11 April 2010

Revising Timor-Leste's Immigration and Asylum Law


Revising Timor-Leste's Immigration and Asylum Law

During 2003, Timor-Leste enacted Law No. 9/2003 on Immigration and Asylum (also Portuguese). Before it was passed, NGOs and others criticized the proposed law as violating legal and constitutional rights. Although the Court of Appeals ruled that parts of the law were unconstitutional it was enacted anyway The most egregious articles were never enforced. In 2006, discussions began on revising the law.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in conjunction with the Secretary of State for Security, is currently holding a consultation on a draft revision of the Immigration and Asylum Law of Timor-Leste. According to the IOM, "The Immigration and Asylum Law provides the basis for the policies that govern the entry and stay of visitors, students, workers, investors and residents in Timor-Leste. Effective immigration policies and procedures contribute to the social, economic and security objectives of the country. The existing law has been found to be deficient in addressing a number of these areas."

A review process was initiated by the government in 2006, and since 2007 a working group has been developing a draft revision of the law, with recent input from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). It is being circulated for public comment. La'o Hamutuk is posting this web page, with IOM's permission, to enable more people and organizations to review and comment on the draft. This IOM summary document (also Tetum or Portuguese) highlights the policy issues and significant proposed changes. The draft law and summary document are not final documents and do not reflect current government policy, but are intended to encourage discussion before revised drafts are submitted to the Council of Ministers and eventually to Parliament for enactment.

IOM welcomes written comments and submissions, which they hope will focus on policy issues rather than small details. Responses should be provided to diliconsultations@iom.int or delivered to the IOM office in Palapaso, Dili. Please provide your input as early as possible, but no later than Wednesday, 21 April. If your comments are written into the draft law files, please use the "track changes" facility.

La'o Hamutuk has heard that the Asylum section of the draft (chapter IX) is likely to be significantly revised, so that it is not necessary to comment on the details of this part. We also encourage submitters to mention which parts of the draft law they think are good, not only when they think should be changed.

La'o Hamutuk (The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis)
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Telephone: +670-3325013 or +670-734-0965 mobile
email: cscheiner@igc.org website: http://www.laohamutuk.org
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