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28 March 2013

Meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers on March 19, 2013

ETLJB 28 February 2013 - The V Constitutional Government met on Tuesday 19 March 2013 in the meeting room of the Council of Ministers, Government Palace, in Dili, and approved the following:

1. Decree-Law approving the Organic of the Ministry of Education

Pursuant to article 26 of Decree-Law n.° 41/2012 of 7 September, which approves the organic structure of the V Constitutional Government, the Ministry of Education is the government body responsible for the design, execution, coordination and evaluation of the policy defined and approved by the Council of Ministers for the area of education, and it is incumbent upon it to exercise the functions assigned to it in that statute.

The new organisational system continues to pursue the challenges launched by the IV Constitutional Government insofar as the policy of education is concerned, with the Ministry of Education continuing to invest in a functional and dynamic structure, covering more effectively the national territory and with a better definition of its different central, de-concentrated and de-centralized services.

Four General Directorates are retained, grouping the respective National Directorates. The Regional Directorates have been suppressed, while the District Directorates are maintained as units for executing and rendering operational the education measures.

2. Decree-Law approving the Organic of the Ministry of State Administration

Decree-Law n.° 41/2012 of 7 September, which approved the organic of the V Constitutional Government, provides for the existence of the Ministry of State Administration as the “body responsible for the design, execution, coordination and evaluation of the policy defined and approved by the Council of Ministers for the areas of local government, administrative decentralization, local and rural development, organization and execution of electoral processes and referenda, and preservation of official documents”.

In the exercise of his or her functions, the Minister of State Administration, the highest body of the Ministry of State Administration, is assisted by the Secretary of State for Administrative Decentralisation and the Secretary of State for Local Development, both of whom have a set of powers which are operationalized and articulated with the structure of the Ministry of State Administration through this statute.

3. Decree-Law that approves the Organic of the Ministry of Tourism


This statute establishes the Organic of the Ministry of Tourism, in compliance with Decree-Law n.° 41/2012 of 7 September which approved the Organic of the V Constitutional Government, and with the Programme of the V Constitutional Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

The Organic of the Ministry of Tourism updates the structure of its services, providing them with the powers it requires to pursue the policies defined by the Government for these areas, in accordance with the Programme.

4. Decree-Law approving the Organic of the Ministry of Transports and Communications

In accordance with Decree-Law n.° 41/2012 of 7 September, which approves the organic of the V Constitutional Government, the Ministry of Transports and Communications is the Government body responsible for the design, execution, coordination and evaluation of the policy defined and approved by the Council of Ministers for the areas of road, maritime and air transports of a civil nature and ancillary services, communications services, including postal, telegraphic and telephonic services and other communication services, meteorological services and computing.

In terms of transports and communications, the Strategic Development Plan envisages as major objectives the development of regional ports, the expansion of the National Airport, the rehabilitation of district landing runways and the opening of the telecommunications market to other operators.

The proposed organizational model, based on central services and bodies enjoying administrative and financial autonomy, seeks a better and more efficient management of public resources at the service of the population.

5. Mechanisms for Executing the 2013 State Budget

The Council of Ministers approved the mechanisms for the execution of the 2013 State Budget as presented by the Minister of Finance following approval of Law n.° 2/2002 of 1 March on the State Budget for the financial year 2013. Notably, the Council of Ministers approved the general procedure, the procedures on the execution according to each category, the Petty Cash and Advance Payments, public revenues, the 2013 budget execution calendar and the preparation of the 2014 State Budget.

The Council of Ministers also analyzed the following:

1. Presentation of the Operationalization of the Strategic Development Plan

Over the next five years, and with the aim of operationalizing, managing and coordinating the Strategic Development Plan and the Programme of the V Constitutional Government, the need arises to establish the new Mechanism for Coordinating Development Policies.

Based on lessons learnt from the National Priorities Programme (started in 2008 by the IV Constitutional Government), the Mechanism for Coordinating Development Policies should be established and conducted by Timor-Leste, rely on the full participation of, and be in line with, the Government planning and budgeting system.

2. Presentation of the First Appraisal of the Administrative Decentralization and Local
Government Policy


Based on paragraph 1 of article 5 and on paragraph 1 of article 72 of the Constitution of the Republic, which provide for the decentralization of the public administration and the establishment of local government, as well on Law n.° 11/2009 of 7 October, according to which the territory of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is to be divided into 13 municipalities enjoying administrative and financial autonomy and with elected representative bodies, the Minister of State Administration presented the first draft on the Administrative Decentralization and Local Government Policy to the Council of Ministers. Source: Government of East Timor Press Release 19/03/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

27 March 2013

Inappropriate executive intervention interferes with judicial independence in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 27 March 2013 - A contributor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has submitted a comment on the press issued on behalf of the government of East Timor by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and official spokesperson, Mr Agio Perreira, on the ongoing trial regarding tax arrears alleged to be owed to the State by a certain oil and gas operator in East Timor's oil reserves in the Timor Sea.The text of the comment follows.

The trial is not completed and it is completely inappropriate for a formal government statement on the matter until such time as it is completed.  The press release details a series of alleged facts as put forth by the government in the case, facts which are certainly being debated and obviously fundamental to the case.  Representing these alleged facts, which have yet to be accepted or rejected by the courts as evidence, as facts instead of alleged facts represents overt meddling in the independent functioning of the judiciary and a publicity side-show meant to further pressure the company in question.

Government officials as a rule should never comment on ongoing court proceedings in which the government is a party or has a vested interest.  This is a negative step forward in terms of developing a nation based on the rule of law which requires an independent and impartial judiciary (or at least maintaining the illusion thereof!).  If the government does indeed win, the impression of government interference will remain - whether real or not.  This is an extremely unfortunate negative given the potentially positive context, where the government stands to gain significant credibility in the international business and investment world while reaping substantial financial reward in the form of back-taxes should the case be decided in the government's favor.  Agio Perreira is an extremely competent and accomplished individual and definitely ought to have known better.

Regarding the actual progress of the case, if Agio Perreira is so convinced of the government's rightness based on the facts, then why would the government even countenance the premise of out of court settlement which will likely reduce the overall amount awarded via the court?  Millions of dollars have already been spent on lawyers (including an alleged $1million surreptitiously paid to a Timorese lawyer for 10 days of supposed work!), so why would the state reduce the potential windfall through a lower settled amount?  Are they worried about hurting the company's feelings, or are they not as rock-solid in terms of the facts as Agio publicly portrays.

ETLJB respectfully agrees with these observations, regrets the Government's action  and urges the Government of East Timor to adhere striclty at all times to the fundamental democratic principle of judicial independence.

 ETLJB Editor: Warren L. Wright

Related posts
Timor-Leste goes to court to protect tax revenue
East Timor Government corrects inconsistencies in international media on oil and gas and criticises local NGO Lao Hamutuk for misinformation and "leaking" reports

24 March 2013

Civil society continues demands for justice for victims of human rights abuses during Indonesian illegal occupation of Timor-Leste

Arte Moris Painting Santa  Cruz Massacre
ETLJB 24 March 2013 -The Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI) had demanded justice for the victims of the 24-year illegal occupation of East Timor by Indonesia and has appealed to the Timoese state not to ignore the rights of victims.  The text of the joint statement by ANTI follows.

24 March is the International Day for the right to the truth and justice for victims. The decision to allocate this day for the victims of human rights violations was made pursuant to United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution No. A/HRC/Res/14/7 in  2010.

The Human Rights Council decided to make this date an historic occasion to honor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a Bishop from El Salvador, who because of his support, courage and sacrifice fought for and defended victims of human rights violations which eventually resulted in him being murdered. Therefore, the UN decided to choose this day as the international day for the right to the truth and justice for victims.

Timor-Leste is a new member of the international community and the 194th member of the UN, and therefore is a 'guardian’ of this day, especially seeing that Timor-Leste is a ‘victim’ of human rights violations that occurred during the 24 year illegal occupation by the Indonesian Soeharto regime. Therefore, Timor-Leste also has a moral obligation to commemorate this day and continue to push for the promotion of victims’ rights to truth and justice, to also provide a lesson that can be ‘learnt’ by future generations to prevent others from becoming victims of human rights violations.

The demand for victims’ rights to truth and justice is not only aimed at satisfying victims, but also for the current generation and future generations. The truth is a historical treasure of a country that prevents the reoccurrence of such incidents in the future. History does not just concern heroism displayed during a violent struggle, but it should also encompass the suffering of victims, so that we can all understand this human suffering to prevent further suffering.

Prisoner Mausoko allowed to participate in government activities

ETLJB 24 March 2014 - Eight prison guards have escorted a notorious prisoner to take part in some government official's activities in the District of Likisa, according to a report in Independente on 19 March.

Independente reported that the National Director of the Prison Service and Social Reinsertation, Cosme Marcal Belo, as saying that the eight prison guards had escorted the prisoner, which the report identifies as Abilio Mausoko, under a legal mandate from the Court of Appeal.

But the Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo-Soares, was also reported by Independente as saying that if the eight had escorted Mausoko to take part in an official government ceremony, then they would face sanctions.

Background - The Mausoko Case
Abilio Mausoko was a police officer who was put on trial in August 2007, along with four other defendants, for the attack on the residence of the then East Timor Defence Force chief, and now President, Taur Matan Ruak on 24 and 25 May 2006 at the height of the 2006 Crisis.

On 6 August 2007, the Dili District Court announced its final decision in the case. The Public Prosecutor accused Abilio "Mausoko" Mesquita of committing more than one criminal act, including extortion committed against the victim Elizario da Silva (owner of Uanagua shop). Associated entries in the indictment were classified as violations of Article 362 of the Indonesian Penal Code on theft and Article 55 of the Indonesian Penal Code, which proscribes being ‘a principal of a criminal act’. Other acts related to the attack on the residence of Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak were contended to breach UNTAET Regulation No. 5/2001 4.4.7, as the defendant “Mausoko” was carrying a gun, having the effect of causing panic and disturbing public order.

A further entry in the indictment against the first defendant, Abilio Mesquita, was classified under Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code, which deals with acts constituting a ‘crime against life’. The Panel of Judges, led by international judge Dra. Maria das Dores Gomes, acquitted the defendant on this charge on 6 August 2007 when the Court handed down its decsion, as it was not proven that he had committed or attempted murder.

The punishment handed down against this defendant was a conjunction of sentences for violating Article 362 of the Indonesian Penal Code on theft and UNTAET Regulation No 5/2001 4.4.7, resulting in a total accumulated sentence of four years imprisonment.

The sentence passed by the Panel of Judges appears to reflect a belief that the release of the defendant Mausoko would not be in accordance with the respect for life and dignity enshrined in the law. Mausoko was a police officer, and was supposed to provide a good example to the community – conversely, he caused disorder through the abuse of his authority. Additionally, the Panel felt that the defendant had not shown any regret for his actions.

The then Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak had submitted a letter requesting that all the defendants be released and granted clemency. The Panel of Judges, however, did not accept the request, noting it had no legal validity. The court ultimately decided to return this letter to its author.   Sources: Independente 19/032013. JSMP Press Release Abilio Mausoko Sentenced to Four Years Jail, Co-Defendants Sentenced to 1 Year 6 Months Jail JSMP Press release 13 August 2007 Edited by Warren L. Wright

23 March 2013

Timor-Leste's Opposition leader criticises draft media law

Mari Alkatiri
Mari Alkatiri Image: Blogue da AICL
ETLJB 23 March 2013 - The leader of the Fretilin opposition, Mr Mari Alkatiri, has criticised the government's draft media law. Jornal Nacional Diario reported on 22/3 that Mr Alkatiri was of the opinion that the draft media law under public consultation and discussed at an international seminar at Hotel Timor in Dili, treats Timorese as if they were children.

"I don't know where this draft law came from. I know that it officially came from the Secretary of State for the Media, in very good Portuguese language. I don't know who wrote this law or which adviser wrote it, I don't know who they listened to because this law treats us like we are children, and that should not be done." Mr. Alkatiri who was a panellist on the 2nd day of the international seminar "Regulating the media, Building a Culture of Responsibility" held on Wednesday 21 March 2013.

Some articles of this draft media law prohibits political parties from having their own means of communication. Because of this Mari Alkatiri says that the constitution of the RDTL is very clear that political parties are the foundation of Timor-Leste's democracy, the organisation which is the democratic base of the country and therefore are entitled to have their own information organisations.

"We can establish communication media but we have to define their rules to limit publication, not just say it is not allowed, that is wrong," Mari Alkatiri affirmed.

Mari Alkatiri encouraged journalists not to fear politicians attempting to suppress the freedom of the press.

"There is no desire to limit freedom, but they must be responsibility," Alkatiri added.

The former Prime Minister and Secretary General of FRETILIN asked journalists to continue to learn so that they can publish information that is of quality and balanced.

Mari Alkatiri added that people become journalists because they are brave, they have strength, and strength must also be contained because they cannot abuse of that power.

"It is a form of corruption to abuse the power that we have," affirmed Mari Alkatiri.

Regarding the law on slanderous denunciation, Dr. Mari Alkatiri said that it was not done with the object of persecuting, but to educate.

"This law on slanderous denunciation was drafted by me not with the objective of persecuting anyone but to educate, because when the media has power they cannot abuse that power, because when it conflicts with the rights of others, then your rights are also diminished. Previously there was an article on defamation, but it is no longer a crime to deal with these things," explained Dr. Mari Alkatiri.

According to Mari Alkatiri, a press that does not exercise responsibility is destructive and is no longer a constructive force, a media that is constructive in denouncing corruption, exercises social control, educates and informs, a fundamental responsibility which is not a crime, and if not done is tantamount to complicity. Source: Jornal Nacional Diario 22/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright


Related stories

Amnesty International says journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruption
Penal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste 2009 ETLJ 4 Defamation - a Crime or Not in Timor-Leste? A Legal Analysis on the East Timor Law Journal
Lao Hamutuk Statement on the Defamation Case against East Timor's Media
East Timor Press Freedom and Defamation in relation to the Applicable Law
Criminal Defamation in East Timor - A Miscarriage of Justice
Short Analysis of UNTAET Executive Order No 2 of 2002 on the Decriminalisation of Defamation
UNTAET Executive Order decriminalising defamation
Press freedom under attack again as two journalists under house arrestAmnesty International says journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruptionPenal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste
Two journalists fined $150 for "slanderous denunciation" 

Land and Housing Rights in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 23 March 2013 Guest Poster: Pamela Sexton. Over the past month, massive rains have flooded the Aitarak Laran community, a stone's throw from Trocaire's office where I work. The flooding and major damage to many make-shift houses along the canal has been blamed on the slow and misguided work of a company hired by the government last year to build a new bridge in this area. Local members of Rede ba Rai (the Land Network), partners of Trocaire, have been working for years now to assist the hundreds of families squatting on public land in Aitarak Laran and other parts of Dili. Less than a week ago, they negotiated with the company responsible for the flooding a US$20,000 settlement for 182 families whose housing was damaged.

Successes like this strengthen the movement for land justice in Timor-Leste, and show the current strength that exists. Over the past few months, I worked with the Land Network assisting with their submission of a 3-year grant proposal to the European Union. In the process, I learned a great deal about their work and key issues around land and housing that Timor now faces. Below are a few examples of major cases the Land Network members have worked on (photos from Rede ba Rai).

After the extreme violence of 1999, close to 200 families found shelter in the former Brimob (Indonesian riot police) headquarters. In January 2011, 175 families were forcibly evicted and many moved to a site in Aitarak Laran. Families are not asking for claim to the land, but with nowhere to go, they are asking the government for a process that recognizes their humanity, and the provision of alternative housing or monetary assistance to secure other housing. Local non-profits (members of Rede ba Rai) are helping families find ways forward on a case-by-case basis.

Another major land case in Dili relates to the land on which Timor Plaza, Timor's first mall, was built in late 2011. There were 192 families compensated by the company. The original list contained 182 but then 10 other families were added. While many families took monetary settlements from the company, a few individual land-owners chose to take the case to court. The company was found guilty of illegal expropriation of land, but the case remains in an appeals process.

Outside of Dili, communities are working to strengthen communal land systems and protect communal rights which were largely denied under the Portuguese and Indonesians, but which date back to pre-Portuguese times. Communities are also facing growing threats of government-led expropriation of land for mega-development projects including an oil refinery, electrical generation facilities and a southern corridor highway.

First Oil and Petroleum Tax Case delivers positive result, says Timor-Leste Government

ETLJB 23 March 2013 - The Government of East Timor has issued a press release on what it says are positive developments in legal proceedings in the Dili District Court concerning tax revenues alleged to have been improperly held by a major oil company exploiting East Timor's oil reserves in the Timor Sea. The text of the press release follows.

The first court case relating to the tax assessments issued to oil and gas contractors concluded on March 19, 2013. The tax assessments were issued to recoup tax revenue that the tax authorities believed had been improperly withheld from Timor-Leste on the basis of the contractors’ failure to supply documentation supporting their tax reporting. After two days of trial in the Díli District Court, the contractor agreed to provide the documentation initially requested by the State.

The case was based on one assessment among many in which contactors have consistently refused to
substantiate millions of dollars of tax deductions as required by law.

When the justification of tax deductions was not forthcoming, the State issued a tax assessment with penalties. This is the first tax assessment to land in the Díli District Court for trial. After closing arguments, the contractor informed the court that it had decided to provide the state with the requested documents. The contractor told the court that they had requested informal conversations with the State to see if a settlement could be reached while the three Judges are deliberating.

To give time to the State and the contractor to reach a settlement after review of the documents, the Judges are delaying issuing their factual findings until May 6. The State is pleased to engage in settlement negotiations in which the contractor has decided to participate in good faith, which indicates a change in the way the contractor will continue to do business with the State.

Should the State and contractor not reach a settlement, the Judges will issue their factual findings on May 6 at which time both parties will have 10 days to provide legal arguments in support of their position. However, the State is optimistic that an agreement will be reached given the contractors willingness to provide the documentation and to reach a fair and equitable outcome to compensate the State.

Spokesperson for the Fifth Constitutional Government, Minister Ágio Pereira, noted “Timor-Leste should be proud that international proceedings have been held in a competent, fair and equitable judicial environment; trusted by both the defendants and the plaintiffs. It is an even more positive outcome that the contractors are wanting to begin a real dialogue with the State. This can only strengthen our partnerships and ensure mutua understanding now and in the future.” ENDS Source: Government of East Timor Press Release 21 March 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related stories
Timor-Leste goes to court to protect tax revenue
East Timor Government corrects inconsistencies in international media on oil and gas and criticises local NGO Lao Hamutuk for misinformation and "leaking" reports

Court hands down a fine against the defendant in case of domestic violence

ETLJB 23 March 2013 - The Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its monitoring report on a domestic violence proceeding in the Dili District Court. The text of the translation follows

On 20 March 2013 the Dili District Court handed down a fine of US$ 180 against the defendant for committing domestic violence against his wife.

The public prosecutor alleged that on 3 October 2010 the defendant punched and pulled the hair of the victim causing her to fall to the ground. In November 2010 the defendant again committed violence against the victim which included striking the victim many times with an electric cord on her back causing her to suffer injuries.

The public prosecutor charged the defendant with Article 145 of the Penal Code regarding a simple offence against physical integrity and Article 35 of the Law against Domestic Violence.

“JSMP believes that this crime should have been treated as serious maltreatment of a spouse in accordance with 154 of the Penal Code, because there were indications that the defendant had repeatedly committed acts of domestic violence against his wife,” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

In his final recommendations the public prosecutor stated that this case could be considered as serious maltreatment of a spouse, however the defendant was only charged with a simple offence against physical integrity because there were no serious consequences. The public prosecutor requested for the court to sentence the defendant to 1 years imprisonment to be suspended for 2 years.

The public defender stated that the defendant had admitted his actions, the matter had been resolved amongst the family and the defendant has five children, therefore he requested for the court to only punish the defendant with a fine.

“JSMP does not agree that this crime is not serious. Domestic violence also has a massive impact on victims, their children and the community.”

The court decided to hand down a fine of US$180 to be paid at the rate of US$1 per day for 180 days. If the defendant does not pay this fine, he will be imprisoned for 120 days and ordered to pay court costs of $10.

This case was registered with the court as Case No. 0246/2012/PDDIL. The trial was presided over by judge Julio Gantes (international judge), Vicente Brites represented the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the defendant was represented by his lawyer Manuel Exposto from the Office of the Public Defender. Source: JSMP Press Release 21 March 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright  

21 March 2013

East Timor Government corrects inconsistencies in international media on oil and gas and criticises local NGO Lao Hamutuk for misinformation and "leaking" reports

ETLJB 21 March 2013 - The oil and gas industry is a global sector that is difficult to navigate especially with billions of dollars at stake. Building a petroleum sector in a new country is equally complex; especially in a country like Timor-Leste which was virtually destroyed at the end of the twentieth century. Timor-Leste and its petroleum sector thus far has been hailed a global success story, as has the Government’s expansionary social and fiscal policies implemented since 2007 designed to peacebuild and statebuild with accelerated economic growth at the forefront.

The Government agenda has worked. In January the esteemed publication the Economist predicted that in 2013 Timor-Leste would be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In it’s top ten Timor-Leste was ranked 6th behind China in 4th position. This is greatly due to Government plans to frontload necessary infrastructure over the next decade in electricity, roads, water, ports, and airports to lay the economic foundations for private sector growth. Frontloading means: pay now so the benefits begin to flow and the economy balances with private sector investment at which time State expenditure can decline. Supported by some of the most respected firms and economists world-wide, Timor-Leste has taken the necessary steps to rebuild the nation with manageable withdrawals from the Petroleum Fund approved by National Parliament and with it, has taken ownership of their resources for this and future generations. Not everyone will agree, especially those with opposing political ideology.

“The Petroleum Economist” recently published an article mostly based on information provided by the locally run NGO La'o Hamutuk. La'o Hamutuk proudly advertises its part in this article in its Mid -Year report.

Unfortunately, the article utilised outdated statistics, misinformation on budget projections and spending, and questionable sources including an unpublished World Bank report - unpublished simply because it was incomplete in calculations due to lack of current data; a common problem in developing nations which is being addressed in coordination with Government statistics and other institutions. This is not the first draft report “leaked” by La'o Hamutuk, others included by example; the first draft of the Strategic Development Plan and the first draft of the 2012 UN Human Development Report - both of which were changed significantly as updated information was developed by authors. [Emphasis added]

La'o Hamutuk has often been criticised for this and similar questionable conduct; providing commentary rather than balanced analysis, often biased in presentation and exempt of integral facts needed to adequately inform the people of Timor-Leste. By example, in the January –June mid-year 2012 La'o Hamutuk report it states “Our analysis of the non-sustainability of Timor-Leste’s current macroeconomy – rapidly growing state budget, soaring population, increasing debt and limited petroleum reserves – was widely accepted and is beginning to influence policy-makers.” Nothing further could be less accurate. [Emphasis added]

In fact the current macroeconomic framework has been endorsed by the IMF, World Bank and three
international financial firms that have done over eighty macro-economic frameworks on financial projections for the Strategic Development Plan. The State budget is aligned to the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI)and is less than one third of the first world budget of Timor-Leste’s closest neighbor in Australia, the Northern Territory, which has a quarter of the population of Timor-Leste. Additionally, the actual population of Timor-Leste is not soaring but moderating with fertility rates dropping from 7.8 to 5.6 over the period 2003 to 2010. Debt has been designed to sustain, not deplete, the capital of the Petroleum Fund over a longer trajectory, aligned to best practice sustainability of fiscal management and the “limited” petroleum reserves are actually only in initial phases of being exploited.

This is how information provided from NGO’s like La'o Hamutuk can be misconstrued to “influence” rather than inform. Luckily, the nation is getting smarter through experience and growth and while policy makers may read the oversimplified and sensationalist analysis of La'o Hamutuk, they now do so with qualified reservations having the experience of peacebuilding and statebuilding. It’s advisable that reputable media such as "Petroleum Economist" follow suit and perform extensive due diligence on La’o Hamutuk's commentary and other information prior to publication.

Critical information also exempt included that to date, Timor-Leste has only explored and exploited 50% of offshore resources with 100% on shore safely awaiting exploration. Comparably, Timor-Leste’s intangible capital, non-mineral, mineral and energy wealth per capita is estimated to be US$55,660. This is US$42,310 more than Indonesia, US$334 more than Malaysia, and US$39,420 in excess of the average for the East Asia and Pacific Region.1 The estimates for the yearly Estimated Sustainable Income for the State Budget is derived from oil operators unaudited predictions; none of which have ever equated to the actual incoming revenue. In 2007 oil wealth fiscal assets were $1.7 billion, in 2013 the wealth hit over $12 billion. These figures over a five-year period did not coincide with the original predictions provided by operators.

Furthermore, estimations provided in the article were based on two running fields and no other potential revenue, outside Greater Sunrise, was mentioned. Spokesperson for the Fifth Constitutional Government Agio Pereira noted “While the State appreciates all interest from international media and NGO’s, both domestic and international, it is important to ensure the quality of information is the most up to date, robust in presentation and analysis provided is non-biased in format. We should be proud of our oil and gas sector amongst others. Timor-Leste has made giant strides in the international arena due to best practice governance and our accountable and transparent systems. We urge all media to practice due diligence in their journalism when reporting on Timor-Leste otherwise it could be misconstrued as a trend to promote one agenda over another which is a scenario no one wants especially from such an esteemed publication.”[Emphasis added] ENDS

Footnote 1: World Bank , Timor-Leste Country Environmental Analysis, July 2009

Source: Government of East Timor Press Release 21 March 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright 

Related Post
Timor-Leste goes to court to protect tax revenue

Timor-Leste goes to court to protect tax revenue

ETLJB 21 March 2013 - This week is a milestone for Timor-Leste. The Díli District Court will be the scene for a legal case which will mark the first time in history Timor-Leste has defended its sovereign rights in the court to protect taxes collected from oil and gas contractors.

Over the last five years, the Minister of Finance, Her Excellency Emília Pires, has established a comprehensive team of Timorese, Internationals, legal and audit firms to begin tax audits on oil contractors. The purpose of the audits is to ensure that the People of Timor-Leste have received their fair share of tax revenue from oil and gas profits in Timor-Leste and that the contractors are diligent in following the applicable laws of Timor-Leste. The Ministry of Finance has exercised scrupulous diligence on a case-by-case basis in applying the existing laws of Timor-Leste. This diligence has resulted in the discovery of many tax return inconsistencies which will now be presented in the courts of Timor-Leste.

The spokesperson for the V Constitutional Government, Agio Pereira, noted “This is not only about recovering funds but changing the way oil contractors do business in our State, in all developing States. We are only doing what any other developed Nation does or should do in reviewing and auditing companies that do business in their territory, to ensure they are complying with the existing laws and paying what is due. This is best practice and an integral part of Statebuilding. Today Timorese everywhere should feel great pride and our international partners should feel a renewed sense of confidence in the State as these actions demonstrate good governance, accountability and transparency.”

Timor-Leste remains strongly pro-investment with the Government having established tax benefits and other incentives to encourage participation. Investors are greatly appreciated but along with everyone must abide by the law.

The first case is simple. The Timor-Leste Revenue Services (TLRS) who manages petroleum taxes requested the substantiation of information that is required by law to support tax deductions by the contractor. To date the company has refused to provide this information. When the company refused to provide the information, the TLRS issued an assessment plus penalties according to the law, a total of $5,090,681 USD.

The more tax deductions claimed by a company, the lower their taxable income and the less tax revenue the Timor-Leste Government receives. The TLRS merely requested the justification, such as receipts, to ensure the expenditure the company claimed on its return were, in fact, paid for and that such expenses were spent exclusively on activities related to its interest in JDPA 03-13 and was not spent on any other thing.

While the company in question claims the money was spent on Head Office expenditures solely to manage its interest in the JDPA 03-13; without providing proof to justify the expenses, there is simply no way to know. The Timor-Leste Revenue Service cannot turn a blind eye to its duty to the people of Timor-Leste to properly enforce the tax law and therefore, had no choice but to impose the appropriate taxes and applicable penalties.

All contractors should be familiar with the laws of Timor-Leste as they have been in operation for some time, some as far back as UNTAET, and the law applicable to these contractors has not been changed since they came into force. The primary law at issue in this case is LAW No. 3/2003 of 1 July ON THE TAXATION OF BAYU-UNDAN CONTRACTORS (TOBUCA)

“The Timor Sea Treaty authorizes, with certain restrictions, each of the Governments to apply its tax regime to petroleum activities in the Joint Petroleum Development Area. In accordance with the Treaty, Timor-Leste may apply its tax regime to 90% of the petroleum activities; Australia may apply its own tax regime to 10% of those activities.

The present Law establishes the tax regime for the development of the Bayu-Undan field. The objective of this act is to encourage the Bayu-Undan Contractors to carry on the gas phase of the project, in addition to its liquid phase. The development of the project in its gas phase shall enable Timor-Leste to increase its overall revenues deriving from the Bayu-Undan field.”  ENDS Source: East Timor Government Press Release 19 March 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Government Resolution of 25 February 2013 on CPD-RDTL

ETLJB 21/03/2013 There follows the text of the resolution of the Government of East Timor regarding the dissident political group, CPD-RDTL. It was resolved at an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on 25 Febraury 2013.

The V Constitutional Government met extraordinarily on Monday 25 February 2013 at the meeting room of the Council of Ministers, Government Palace, Dili, having approved the following Government Resolution on CPD-RDTL:

Since late last year, public order and security, including the well-being and property of the local
population, have been negatively affected in certain areas of Manufahi district, more precisely in
Welaluhu.

At stake are unlawful actions carried out by CPD-RDTL group. Such actions include the occupation of private, public, as well as community land. Complaints were also received regarding commitment of crimes (such as theft, extortion and violations) in clear disrespect for human rights and for the laws in force in the country. His Excellency the President of the Republic already requested the Government to pay a special attention to this issue.

To this effect, the Council of Ministers, upon consulting the Secretary of State for Security and the PNTL General Commander, and following a thorough analysis of the situation and its implications, decided to instruct the Ministry of Defense and Security to, through PNTL, (in compliance with the relevant legislation, notably the law that regulates the use of force): adopt every measure considered to be adequate for the reestablishment of social peace and for protecting the local population, their property and means of survival; prevent the likely worsening of the security situation caused by the unlawful occupation of lands by the CPD-RDTL group; and take the necessary measures aimed at preventing the occurrence of such situations in other parts of the country.

The Government respects all the Veterans who fought for the liberation of Timor-Leste, but demands that there be respect for the History of Liberation and for the laws of the country, which cannot be overstepped by anybody, not even by those who consider themselves, or are considered, to be national heroes.

Thus, in accordance with the Constitution, which grants the Government the competence to ensure
internal security, the Executive has the duty to ensure that the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL), under its mandate, take the measures deemed necessary to reestablish constitutional normalcy and public order. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government Press Release 25 February 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related posts
Police continue forced returns of CPD-RDTL members
Tension between military and dissident political group CPD-RDTL grows 
Violations of the law by both the State and CPD-RDTL dissidents in Manufahi
CPD-RDTL continues to be a thorn in the side of the Timor-Leste Government
CPD-RDTL using land for communal cultivation, President calls on security forces to control CPD-RDTL
CPD-RDTL using residents' land, MP calls for action against CPD-RDTL's wearing of military uniforms
CPD-RDTL accused of slaughtering the people's livestock in Fatuberliu, Defence Force Chief warns against protests against the State
CPD-RDTL members continue wearing military uniforms and carrying machetes intimidating local residents
CPD Asks PM Xanana to Keep his Promise: “CPD-RDTL Demands a Veteran Replaces Longuinhos”
Timor Police say a new coup plot from CPD-RDTL & Bua-Malus
CPD-RDTL accuses PNTL of human rights violations
RDTL Constitution does not ban dissident group
Dissident political parties accused of involvement in ninja crime in Timor-Leste
Political Killings in Timor-Leste? Fretilin alleges East Timor Democratic Party follows involved in murder of resistance organisation member's daughter 

Police continue forced returns of CPD-RDTL members

ETLJB 21 March 2013 - The East Timor police have continued their operations against the dissident political group, CPD-RDTL, which has illegally occupied land to undertake cooperative cultivation activities and whose members have continued to wear military-style uniforms and to bear arms in the southern region of the country. There have been more than 800 of CPD-RDTL members based in Welaluhu for about four months causing distress to local communities and defying the State's attempts to have them voluntarily move out of the area.

According to an English translation of a report on Radio Televizaun Timor-Leste on 19 March 2013, Tetun, some of CPD-RDTL members refused to return, but the police approached them to leave and were provided with humanitarian aid and medical assistance.

Police Commander Afonso dos Santos was reported by RTT as saying that the police action to return members of CPD-RDTL to their respective districts was based on a resolution of the Government and had to be undertaken without violence.

But according to another report in leading newspaper, Suara Timor Lorosae on the same day, the Coordinator of CPD-RDTL, Mario dos Reis, said that the organisation would continue doing their cooperative activities in Welaluhu despite facing unfair treatment from the Timorese National Police (PNTL).

"We have a commission to monitor PNTL's activities. They did not state Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's direction not to use violence or destroy CPD-RDTL's activities but in fact they destroyed 18 hectares of their rice field," he said. But the RTT report stated that the rice and corn fields had been handed over to local authorities to take care of them.

Reis said they would not leave Welaluhu because some members of CPD-RDTL were being detained in the Covalima Police station.

Meanwhile, Diario Nacional reported on 20 March 2013 that a spokesperson for CPD-RDTL, Gil Fernandes, had publicly expressed concerns about the Timorese National Police (PNTL) intervention as the PNTL members intervention was tainted with brutality.

“We are calling on President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to jail police officers who act with brutality against CPD-RDTL members,” he said. Fernandes was also reported to have said that CPD-RDTL continues to reject the resolution of the Government to return its members from Welaluhu as their activity aim to increase economic growth in Timor-Leste. Sources: RTTL 19/03/2013, Suara Timor Lorosae 19/03/2013, Diario Nacional 20/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related reports
Tension between military and dissident political group CPD-RDTL grows 
Violations of the law by both the State and CPD-RDTL dissidents in Manufahi
CPD-RDTL continues to be a thorn in the side of the Timor-Leste Government
CPD-RDTL using land for communal cultivation, President calls on security forces to control CPD-RDTL
CPD-RDTL using residents' land, MP calls for action against CPD-RDTL's wearing of military uniforms
CPD-RDTL accused of slaughtering the people's livestock in Fatuberliu, Defence Force Chief warns against protests against the State
CPD-RDTL members continue wearing military uniforms and carrying machetes intimidating local residents
CPD Asks PM Xanana to Keep his Promise: “CPD-RDTL Demands a Veteran Replaces Longuinhos”
Timor Police say a new coup plot from CPD-RDTL & Bua-Malus
CPD-RDTL accuses PNTL of human rights violations
RDTL Constitution does not ban dissident group
Dissident political parties accused of involvement in ninja crime in Timor-Leste
Political Killings in Timor-Leste? Fretilin alleges East Timor Democratic Party follows involved in murder of resistance organisation member's daughter 

19 March 2013

President commends work by the Prosecutor-General

ETLJB 19 March 2013 Dili, 15 March 2013: H.E. the President of the Republic today inaugurated the new premises of the Public Prosecutor of the Republlic in Dili. President Taur Matan Ruak said in his remarks that “it is with satisfaction that I preside in the inauguration of this new facility of the Dili District Prosecution Office.” The Head of State added that the better working conditions it offers “should contribute to a better organisation and greater productivity in the work developed by the District Prosecution Office and by the Public Prosecution Service as a whole.”

H.E. the President also praised the services that the Public Prosecutor in Dili has been developing in recent years: “ Steps towards the Timorisation of the staff. Today, the Public Prosecution Service has 17 Timorese prosecutors from a total of 21 prosecutors with direct responsibility over investigations.”

The Head of State highlighted the importance of transparency in the functioning of public services and used this occasion to praise the action of the Prosecutor General of the Republic, Dr. Ana Pessoa, who is ending her mandate now, and thanked her for the work done during the past four years.

“I take this opportunity to thank her for her commitment and dedication to the development of the work of the Office of the Prosecutor General over the last 4 years. The Prosecutor -General recently produced and submitted a detailed activity report. “

Referring to who will replace Dr. Ana Pessoa, the President stressed in his speech that currently there are preparations to appoint a next Prosecutor ]General.

“This process is about choosing just one from all the prosecutors and requires thought and serenity. It is not an easy task since we fortunately have several prosecuters with the required profile. I will give it my full consideration and choose the best to head the Public Prosecution Service to manage the Prosecution Office, taking into account solely the interest of the institutions and of the country.”

H.E. the President also highlighted in his speech the importance of the Judiciary to the economic development of Timor -Leste “Entrepreneurs and investors, whether national or international, need a system that is respected, efficient and credible in order to strengthen confidence to develop economic projects, create jobs and attain improvement of the wellbeing and quality of life of our society. “

Presidente Matan Ruak closed is remarks saying that: “It is in our hands – and in your hands – to work together, to strengthen the Office of the Prosecutor, the judiciary system, and to build a better and more secure country.” Source: Office of the President of the Republic Press Release 15/03/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Government launches Emergency Call Number 115

ETLJB 19 March 2013 - The Secretariat of State for Security, through the National Directorate of Civil Protection (DNPC), took advantage of the International Civil Protection Day, which was commemorated on 1 March at the National Operational Coordination Centre in Caicoli, to launch the Emergency Call Number 115.

As clarified by Domingos Pinto, the Director of DNPC, “the Emergency Call Number 115, officially launched to the public today, may be of help to the community because it allows anyone to contact the civil protection services on a 24-hour basis should there be an incident in their residences or in other places.”

The Director called upon the community to use this emergency call number in a responsible manner, for those resorting to it are in need of assistance for certain situations they may find themselves in, such as fire, fall of trees, inundations and other accidents. Government of East Timor Press Release 04/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright


17 March 2013

More executive evictions as civil society appeals to Parliament to discuss land law in Timor-Leste

ETLJB  17/03/2013 - The police and Dili District security officers have forcibly evicted a family from land in respect of which the State has asserted ownership. The land is located in Delta, Comoro in the country's capital city which the State has leased to the Timor Plaza investor. The eviction was executed on Wednesday, 13 March.

According to an English translation of a report published in Suara Timor Lorosae on 14 March, the family had been ordered to move from the land three times but had refused to leave and the occupation of the land was impeding the construction of a building in front of Timor Plaza.

Meanwhile, the director of the human rights civil society organisation, HAK, has appealed to the National Parilament to discuss the land law that was drafted during the term of office of the now-convicted former Justice Minister Lucaia Lobato and which the then-President, Ramos Horta vetoed on the grounds that it was not a fair and just law.


 Radio Timor Leste broadcast a report on 13 March citing HAK's director, Rogerio Viegas, as saying that the National Parliament had power to hold a meeting with civil society organisations to discuss the land law before being approved by the Parliament.

“Land dispute issues always happen in our country; therefore the Parliament should commit to discuss the land law shortly,” Viegas said. Sources: Radio Timor-Leste 13/03/2013;Suara Timor Lorosae 14/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related posts
Land disputes a continuing cause of violence in Timor-Leste
Murder in East Timor the result of land dispute
Violence flares as police beat protestors over land dispute
Land dispute triggers more violence in Timor-Leste 
Massacre leaving 5 dead the result of a land dispute   Still no land title certainty a decade after independence Timor Leste Land Network asks Hilary Clinton ‘not to abandon the people’s land rights’ and criticises USAID-funded land program The East Timor Land Law Program: Four Years On - Still No Land Law 


16 March 2013

Public Prosecutor lays charges against police officer

ETLJB 16/03/2013 - East Timor's Public Prosecutor has brought charges against a police officer suspected of blackmailing a person accused of the theft of computers from the National University.

It is alleged that the police officer, who has been identified as Valente Henrique da Concecao and who was assigned to the Dili police station, sought money from the person suspected of stealing the computers if the suspect wanted the investigation stopped.

The person who was under investigation for the theft, in response to the police officer's proposal, allegedly went to the police officer's house with US$450 and one of the stolen computers to hand over to the police officer. Source: Timor Post 15/03/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright


More reports on police misconduct and violence in Timor-Leste
Complaints of police and military brutality in two districts
Police officer assaults a young man
Police and military commit serious human rights violations in Timor-Leste
Violence flares as police beat protesters over land dispute
Police investigate officers suspected of beating woman in Baukau
Timor President silent after witnessing police bashing during international fishing competition
Dili Police Commander receives no information about assault on journalist by police
Police officer assaults teacher suspected of witchcraft
Two police officers held in Dili jail after fatal shooting
Fretilin and CNRT condemn police officers who assaulted a journalist
Baukau clash caused by misunderstanding: Baukau police commander

Complaints of police and military brutality in two districts

East Timor Police coat of arms image
ETLJB 16 March 2013 - Reports of police brutality have been made to the National Parliament by the victims.  On 14 March, three men appeared in Parliament to say that they had been beaten by police officers in Viqueque.

The President of Parliamentary Committee B on Defence and Security (which heard the complants), Maria Lourdes Bessa, and undertook to request the responsible agencies to investigate. Speaking to journalists afterwards, Mrs Bessa further explained that members of both the police force and the military went to the vicitm's residence and assaulted them.

Meanwhile, in another case, two young people from Suai Loro in Covalima allege that they were beaten by police officers and appealed to the competent institutions to commence the necessary legal process against the police officers involved.

Martinho Bere Nahak, the a father of the victims, said the actions of the police were not professional when responding to any problems within the community.

“As victims’ father I urge PNTL commander to look at this case as it will impact PNTL in the future,” he said. 

More posts on police and military brutality in Timor-Leste
Police officer assaults a young man
Police and military commit serious human rights violations in Timor-Leste
Violence flares as police beat protesters over land dispute
Police investigate officers suspected of beating woman in Baukau
Timor President silent after witnessing police bashing during international fishing competition
Dili Police Commander receives no information about assault on journalist by police
Police officer assaults teacher suspected of witchcraft
Two police officers held in Dili jail after fatal shooting
Fretilin and CNRT condemn police officers who assaulted a journalist
Baukau clash caused by misunderstanding: Baukau police commander

Sources: Televizaun Timor-Leste 15/03/2013; Timor Post 14/03/2013; ETLJB. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Two journalists fined $150 for "slanderous denunciation"

ETLJB 16 March 201 - The two East Timorese journalists who were charged under country's penal code for slanderous denunciation (defamation) of a public prosecutor have been found not guilty of the charges but have each fined US150 by the Dili District Court on Thursday, 14 March 2013 as civil compensation for the public prosecutor in question.

The journalists had faced up to three years in jail after the publications they worked for (Independente and Suara Timor Lorosae) published reports in December 2011 and January 2012 about a traffic accident case in the District of Oecusse that alleged that the public prosecutor dealing with the case had accepted a bribe in the course of his duties relating to the investigation and prosecution of the driver of the motor vehicle which left  dead after a collision.
 
The judge said prosecutors failed to prove that the news published by two journalists had harmed the prosecutor materially. "Oscar Maria Salsinha and Raimundos Oki are sentenced to pay a fine of $ 150 each," said the judge, in a room full of Timorese journalists who stood and applauded the judge's decision regarding their colleagues who avoided a prison sentence. In the same judgment, the individual who passed the information about the alleged bribe received by the prosecutor, the news source for journalists, was sentenced to a suspended sentence of one year and ordered to pay a fine of $150.

"I am pleased with the court's decision. But I'm sad because of compensation because we were just reporting the news," said Lusa Raimundos Oki, a journalist from the Independente newspaper.

Oscar Maria Salsinha, from the Suara Timor Lorosae just said he was "happy" with the judge's decision. The representative of the Association of Journalists of Timor-Leste, Tito Filipe, said the judge's decision was fair and asked the parliament and the Timorese judicial system to "eliminate slanderous denunciation from the criminal code as it applies to journalists."

According to the East Timorese Penal Code, the crime of  "slanderous denunciation" is applied to "those who, by any means, before an authority or public, aware of the falsity of the imputation, cast upon a particular person suspicion of a crime, with the intention that he/she be prosecuted. " The code also states that if the person was not "aware of the falsity of the accusation" then the aggrieved can seek compensation under civil liability.


The prosecution said it would appeal the decision. Sources: LUSA, JSMP Press Release 15/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright


Related posts
Amnesty International says journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruption
Penal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste 2009 ETLJ 4 Defamation - a Crime or Not in Timor-Leste? A Legal Analysis on the East Timor Law Journal
Lao Hamutuk Statement on the Defamation Case against East Timor's Media
East Timor Press Freedom and Defamation in relation to the Applicable Law
Criminal Defamation in East Timor - A Miscarriage of Justice
Short Analysis of UNTAET Executive Order No 2 of 2002 on the Decriminalisation of Defamation 

UNTAET Executive Order decriminalising defamation


15 March 2013

Public Prosecutor files proceedings against Secretary of State Francisco Borlaco alleging abuse of power

ETLJB 15/03/2013 - In another stunning development in the crusade against corruption in East Timor, the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) has filed formal allegations of  the crimes of abuse of power by another high public official, Francisco da Costa Soares (Borlaco), allegedly committed when he was the Director General of the Ministry of Finance during the fourth Constitutional Government led by Xanana Gusmao.

Borlaco is the present secretary of State for Institutional Strengthening. His is a member of the Democratic Party and was appointed by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to the Fifth Constitutional Government as Secretary of State for Institutional Strengthening.

The charge documents have been filed in the Dili District Court awaiting the trial process to commence.

Jornal Nacional Diario newspaper, which published a report on the case yesterday, reported that it had received formal information from the Dili District Court on Wednesday 13 March 2013 that the OPP's accusations against Francisco Borlaco were lodged in the Dili District Court on 24 January 2013, file number NUC2488/11PDD.

A number of officials in Xanana Gusmao's CNRT-PD alliance government have been convicted of corruption including former Minister for Justice Lucia Lobato who is serving a 5-year jail term. Source: Jornal Nacional Diario 14/03/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Meeting of the Council of Ministers of 5 March 2013

ETLJB 15 March 2013 - The V Constitutional Government met on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in the meeting room of the Council of Ministers, in the Government Palace in Díli, and approved the following:

1. Draft Law approving the Organic of the Presidency of the Republic

The objective of this statute is to harmonize the Organic Law of the Presidency of the Republic with the Constitution of the Republic insofar as the line of conduct, autonomy and independence of this sovereign body is concerned. Some services at the Presidency of the Republic, such as the Medical Support Service, the Communications Centre, and the Office for Spouse Support Services have also been reformulated.

The statute will soon be submitted to National Parliament as a draft law, pursuant to the Constitution of the Republic.

2. Draft Law on the Parliamentary Authorization to legislate on Execution of Sentences and on Custodial and Non-Custodial Measures

The objective of this statute is to improve the criminal justice administration system and to establish in Timor-Leste a system of execution of sentences and custodial and non-custodial measures that is humane, fair and reliable, geared towards the social reinsertion of convicts. Also, an important lacunae is filled insofar as criminal justice administration is concerned. Since its creation, the criminal justice administration system has been evolving without a legal and normative framework, having relied hitherto on UNTAET Regulation n.° 2001/23 of 28 August on the “Establishment of a Prison Service in Timor-Leste”, as well as on some dispersed norms of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.

3. Government Resolution on the need to ensure the supply of fuel and on the establishment of a Strategic Fuel Reserve

The Government, committed as it is in ensuring the distribution of fuel throughout the country, is confronted with the existence of a much reduced number of fuel suppliers, which is an obstacle to the distribution of electricity and to the full utilization of the infrastructures available at the Hera Power Station.

Thus, the Council of Ministers analyzed the supply of High Speed Diesel to EDTL, E.P., having mandated the Minister of Public Works to discuss the subject matter with TIMOR GAP, E.P., which was established through Decree-Law n.° 31/2011 of 27 July. This company possesses the material means as well as the necessary skills to ensure the regular supply of fuel to EDTL, E.P. and the establishment of a Strategic Fuel Reserve that would allow the maintenance of fuel supply in the country at security levels and concomitantly create an instrument of control in case of price fluctuations.

4. Government Resolution extending the mandate of the Commission managing SAMES, E.P.

The Board of Administration of SAMES, E.P. (Medicines and Health Equipment Authority), a State-owned company, was dissolved through Government Resolution n.° 22/2012 of 31 October. A Commission with the objective of ensuring the management and functioning of SAMES, E.P on a temporary basis was established.

Since the said Commission has a temporary mission of 120 days, which ended last February, the Council of Ministers decided to extend the Commission’s mandate for another 120 days.

The Council of Ministers also analyzed the following:

1. Decree-Law approving the Organic of the Ministry of Tourism


This statute establishes the organic of the Ministry of Tourism, thereby complying with Decree-Law n.° 41/2012 of 7 September, which approved the Organic of the V Constitutional Government as well as the Programme of the V Constitutional Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Source: Government of East TImor. Edited by Warren L. Wright

14 March 2013

Amnesty International says journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruption

ETLJB 14 March 2013 Amnesty International issued a press release on 13 March 2013 saying that 2 journalists in East Timor are at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruption.

According to AI, all charges must be dropped against two Timorese journalists facing prison sentences for exposing alleged corruption in their country’s judicial system.

A court in Timor-Leste’s capital Dili is set to deliver its verdict against Oscar Maria Salsinha of the Suara Timor Lorosa’e newspaper and Raimundo Oki of the Independente newspaper today, 14 March. The two reporters are accused of “slanderous denunciations”, which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment or a fine.

The charges stem from separate articles Salsinha and Oki wrote on 31 December 2011 and 2 January 2012, both on the suspected involvement of a District Prosecutor in receiving a bribe in a traffic accident case which occurred on 18 October 2011.

“These two journalists have done nothing but their job and exercised their right to freedom of expression by reporting on possible corruption in the judicial system,” Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director said.

“If they are convicted, it could set a dangerous precedent for journalists and human rights defenders in Timor-Leste, where the legal system could be used to silence critical voices. It would also send a chilling signal on wider issues of freedom of expression and the media in the country.

“While everyone has the right to protection against unlawful attacks on their reputation, this should be a matter for civil litigation, not criminal law.

“If the two men are convicted and imprisoned tomorrow, Amnesty International would call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

Background

The two journalists have been charged with violating Article 285 of the Timor-Leste Penal Code criminalizing “slanderous denunciations”.

Such legal provisions are incompatible with full respect for and proper protection of freedom of expression as provided for in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Timor-Leste ratified in 2003, as well as the Timor-Leste Constitution.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has criticized the use of criminal defamation charges as a means of repressing freedom of expression and has explained that charges related to defamation, libel and slander should be dealt with by the authorities under civil, not criminal, law and that there should not be prison sentences for such charges.

The UN Human Rights Committee has also stressed that imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty in such cases.  

ETLJB Editor's Note: Informal information suggests that the case against the journalists has been dismissed by the Court.

Related posts
Penal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste2009 ETLJ 4 Defamation - a Crime or Not in Timor-Leste? A Legal Analysis on the East Timor Law Journal
Lao Hamutuk Statement on the Defamation Case against East Timor's Media
East Timor Press Freedom and Defamation in relation to the Applicable Law
Criminal Defamation in East Timor - A Miscarriage of Justice
Short Analysis of UNTAET Executive Order No 2 of 2002 on the Decriminalisation of Defamation 

UNTAET Executive Order decriminalising defamation 

Source: AI Press Release 13 March 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

CPD-RDTL members suspected of committing sexual abuse

ETLJB 14 March 2013 - Some members of the dissident political group, CPD-RDTL, are suspected of committing sexual abuse of a woman in Welaluhu, Fatuberlio according to a FRETILIN member of the national Parliament, Eladio Faculto. The MP told a plenary session of the parliament on 13 March 2013 that a video had been discovered which shows a group of men having sexual intercourse with a woman.

Timor Post reported the MP's comments in the National Parliament on 12 March 2013 adding that "I know that CPD-RDTL members have no intention to do such an act, but individuals who commit this should be processed according to the existing law," Eladio made the comments during plenary session at the House of the Parliament yesterday.

Meanwhile, according to the State Secretary for Promotion and Gender Equality, Idelta Maria Rodrigues, while  gender development in Timor-Leste has been improving, the domestic violence statistics showed that 38% of women are suffering from domestic violence and are physically maltreated by their spouses and partners. 

Ms. Idelta called on the State of Timor-Leste support and guarantee laws which combat domestic violence in the country.


Related posts
Government finally acts against dissident CPD-RDTL's illegal occupation of land and orders police arrests and forced returns
Violations of the law by both the State and CPD-RDTL dissidents in Manufahi
Tension between military and dissident political group CPD-RDTL grows
CPD-RDTL continues to be a thorn in the side of the Timor-Leste Government
CPD-RDTL and its actions are illegal but state fails to act
CPD-RDTL using land for communal cultivation, President calls on security forces to control CPD-RDTL
CPD-RDTL using residents' land, MP calls for action against CPD-RDTL's wearing of military uniforms
CPD-RDTL accused of slaughtering the people's livestock in Fatuberliu, Defence Force Chief warns against protests against the State
CPD-RDTL members continue wearing military uniforms and carrying machetes intimidating local residents
CPD Asks PM Xanana to Keep his Promise: “CPD-RDTL Demands a Veteran Replaces Longuinhos”
Timor Police say a new coup plot from CPD-RDTL & Bua-Malus
CPD-RDTL accuses PNTL of human rights violations
RDTL Constitution does not ban dissident group
Dissident political parties accused of involvement in ninja crime in Timor-Leste
Political Killings in Timor-Leste? Fretilin alleges East Timor Democratic Party follows involved in murder of resistance organisation member's daughter

JSMP disseminates information and knowledge on the Law Against Domestic Violence
Oecusse District Court tries domestic violence cases for three consecutive days
Only two cases of domestic violence heard at Dili District Court
Murder, attempted murder, sex crime against a minor, assaults and domestic violence hearings in Dili District Court, November 2012
Case Summary from the Oecusse District Court for the fourth week of November 2012
Domestic Violence Cases in the Dili District Court November 2012


Sources: Timor Post 12/03/2013 and Diario Nacional 12/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Teacher stabs student in head with pencil

ETLJB 14 March 2013 - An East Timorese teacher has been charged after allegedly stabbing a student in the head with a pencil.

Diario Nacional reported on 12 March 2013 that the teacher, who has been named as Armindo da Costa and who is currently teaching at Hera Public School is suspected of stabbing his student named Walter Agostinho Boavida Freitas with a pencil causing the student's head to bleed.

It is alleged that the teacher stabbed the student because the student did not write his full name during a lesson.

This case has been reported to the police and has been filed by the Public Prosecutor for legal proceedings.
On Monday (11/3) the case was tried in the Dili District Court. Source: Diario Nacional. Edited by Warren L. Wright

12 March 2013

Indonesian police arrest 2 suspected drug couriers operating on border with Timor-Leste

Image of map of Nusa Tenggara Timor
Nusa Tenggara Timur Province bordering Timor-Leste
ETLJB 12/03/2013 Indonesian police have arrested two people suspected of being drug couriers operating along the Indonesian-Timor-Leste border.

Tempo Interactive reported last Friday, 08 March, 2013 that the suspects were arrested at two different locations in the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur. According to the Belu Precinct Anti-Drug Task Force Chief First Inspector Marten Pelokila, the first, whose initials are A. N., was arrested at a housing complex behind the Sesekoe fuel station in Belu District on 6 March at about midday. The police seized evidence that included one gram of methamphetamine.


In the second arrest, on 7 March at about 1.30pm local time, a man identified with the initial N. was arrested at his house in the Tulamale area where police found 3 packages of methamphetamine, bongs and a pipe. Source: Tempo Interaktif 8/2/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright 

Related posts
Three arrests on suspicion of drug smuggling to Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste becoming transit zone for international drug smuggling
Two Indonesians arrested for drug smuggling in detention in Timor-Leste
East Timorese and Indonesian police cooperate to tackle drug trafficking
Five kilograms of cocaine smuggled by Indonesians into Timor-Leste
Five more drug-related arrests in Timor-Leste


11 March 2013

Three years prison for husband in domestic violence proceedings in Dili District Court

Dili District Court Coat of Arms
ETLJB 05 March 2013 -The Dili District Court has handed down a sentence of 3 years imprisonment in a case involving the maltreatment of a spouse.

On 4 March 2013 the Dili District Court conducted a hearing to read out its decision in a case of domestic violence. The court sentenced the defendant to 3 years imprisonment. However the sentence was suspended for 4 years. The crime of serious maltreatment against a spouse was committed by the defendant Nelson da Crus Marques against his wife Natersia Olandina  Fernandes. This incident occurred on 28 November 2011, in the Suburb of Delta, Comoro in the captial city, Dili.

“The serious maltreatment of a spouse is a serious crime, as provided for in the Timor-Leste Penal Code, therefore JSMP encourages the court to hand down a punishment in proportion with the nature and severity of the crime committed, otherwise it will be difficult for us to differentiate between ordinary maltreatment and serious maltreatment in the Timor-Leste Penal Code”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

The public prosecutor alleged that the defendant struck the victim several times on the head and hit the victim in the head with his helmet and smashing his helmet on her head. The defendant also pushed the victim into the gutter and then stomped on the victim. The victim fell unconscious. The aforementioned actions caused the victim to suffer swelling and bleeding from her nose. The public prosecutor also alleged that prior to this incident the defendant had often maltreated the victim.

Based on evidence revealed during the trial, the court concluded that the actions of the defendant fulfilled the elements of the crime as set out in Article 154 of the Penal Code regarding serious the serious maltreatment of a spouse as well as Articles 3 (a) and 35 (a) of the Law Against Domestic Violence.

Therefore, the court sentenced the defendant to 3 years imprisonment; however the sentence was suspended for 4 years. In addition the court also ordered the defendant to pay compensation to the victim totaling US$ 200.

The case was registered with the court as Case No. 430/C.Ord/2012/TDDIL. This hearing to announce the court’s decision was presided over by judge Antonio Gonsalves. The Public Prosecution Service was represented by Hipolitu Santa and the defendant was represented by public defender Marcia Sarmento. Source: Judicial System Monitoring Program Press Release 5/3/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright BA LLB

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Timor-Leste clarifies international tax and customs obligations

East Timor Government Official Coat of Arms
ETLJB 11 March 2013 - Given the successful international workshop conducted last week including one on private investment, it is important to clarify some confusion articulated in the local press regarding international companies and tax obligations.

There is no legal requirement for a company to be registered in Timor-Leste if they are simply supplying goods to the intended owner in Timor-Leste. If an international company is a supplier of goods to a local person, company, Government agency or Institution in Timor-Leste, the supplier is not required to be a registered company and is not required to have a Tax Identification Number (TIN). There is no legal requirement for a company to be registered in Timor-Leste to apply for an international tender and there is no legal requirement for a company to be registered in Timor-Leste to be awarded a tender.

All individuals, companies or Government agencies importing goods into Timor-Leste are required to pay customs and taxes to the State when the goods arrive. The party deemed responsible for these duties and taxes is identified by having their name on both the Bill of Lading and on the Customs Declaration.

National Parliament, in its infinite wisdom, ensured Government agencies procuring goods would pay taxes to create a level market playing field to the private sector. Many times it is a Government agency or institution in Timor-Leste which is procuring the goods and is therefor responsible for the taxes on receipt of goods. It can be the Education, Electricity, Health or any other Ministry or Institution procuring goods who have named themselves as the owner or receiver of the goods.

Individuals and companies registered overseas who supply goods and services are responsible for paying taxes either overseas or in Timor-Leste depending on the contract itself. However, taxes payable in Australia are 30%-40% as opposed to Timor-Leste’s very competitive 10% tax rate. Timor-Leste has created one of the simplest, most effective and efficient tax systems in the world. Many doing business with Timor-Leste still must continue to pay large taxes in their country of origin unless they move the business to the shores of Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste encourages and hopes many more companies will look to doing so in the future.

The domestic tax system in Timor-Leste was established to provide one of the most conducive environments for investment in the world, especially for a fragile nation to accelerate economic growth. Agio Pereira noted “While our system has been greatly simplified, it is still important for us all including media, civil society and the public to understand the legislation so that we can promote and socialize the correct messages to promote investment and trade.” Source:
Minister of State and of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and Official Spokesperson for the Government of Timor-Leste Díli, March 5, 2013
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