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31 July 2013

Man convicted of sexual intercourse with underage girl sentenced to 9 years jail

ETLJB 31 July 2013 - The Dili District Court last Thursday (25/7) handed down its verdict in a case of sexual assault of a minor. The court found the accused (known only by the initials MXS) guilty and sentenced him to 9 years in prison for having sexual intercourse with an underage girl.

The panel of judges who heard the case was headed by Judge Jose Maria who stated that the the accusation made by the public prosecutor had been proven to the court based on the testimony of the accused and the victim

The court found that the the accused had had sexual intercourse with the victim (SDC) in Metinaro, a suburb in the eastern part of Capital Dili. Source: Suara Timor Loro Sae English translation from TLMDC Edited by Warren L. Wright

JSMP Report on National Seminar on the Right to a Fair Trial and the Right of Appeal in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 31 July 2013 - The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on a national seminar organised by JSMP on the subjects of the right to a fair trial and the right of appeal in Timor Leste. The text of the translation follows.

On 28 June 2013 JSMP organised a National Seminar on Fair Trial and the Right to Appeal. The seminar was attended by 138 participants including students and representatives of government and non-government organisations.

Summary of Presentations

The morning session included presentations on the current situation and potential challenges to fair trial in Timor-Leste.This session featured:

· Ms Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International who explained the concept of a fair trial and international standards and outlined the importance of ensuring that trials are conducted in accordance with international standards of fairness, independence and impartiality is of fundamental importance to the rule of law with particular reference to the case study of Fiji.

· Dr. Rui Pereira, Deputy Ombudsman of Human Rights and Justice who provided insight into the current situation in Timor-Leste and clarified the role of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice, which is to receive complaints about decisions but not to intervene in judicial decisions and decision-making.

· Sr. Nelinho Vidal, Ministry of Justice who explained the role of the Ministry of Justice in developing the justice sector and supporting the rule of law in Timor-Leste and identified the achievements and future challenges involved in constructing Timor-Leste’s formal justice system.These challenges were identified as the Constitution; lack of coordination within the sector; judicial independence; capacity development; and a lack of community awareness.

· Dr. Cancio Xavier, Public Defender who explained the role of the Public Defender in guaranteeing fair trial and the right to appeal by providing access to justice for the poor.

The afternoon session included presentations on the role of the Appeals Court in guaranteeing a fair trial. This session featured:

· Dr. Cid Geraldo, UNTL who explained the right of appeal in the context of the Constitution and as a component of the fair trial principle.

· Dr. José Ximenes, General Prosecutor who explained the role of the prosecutor in guaranteeing a fair trial as well as the challenges faced by the Prosecutor in fulfilling its institutional functions, in particular constitutional constraints and political interference.

· Sr. Jose Luis de Oliveira, Asian Justice and Rights (AJAR) who discussed problems with political interference in the Appeals Court and identified future challenges including  corruption; protection of witnesses; and the exercise of Presidential and government powers.

 Issues Raised

At the end of each session, participants then had the opportunity to ask a range of question sand raise issues related to the justice sector, to which the presenters responded. Concerns raised by participants included:

· The right of appeal and conduct of the Lucia Lobato trial.
It was generally agreed that all accused persons have the right to appeal and to be treated in a manner that upholds and respects their human rights. It was also agreed that the Lucia Lobato trial highlights the problem of the lack of transparency in the Appeals Court as the decision-making process of the court is confidential and this fuels public dissatisfaction with the judicial system.

· A lack of transparency in the Appeals Court.
It was concluded that the Appeals Court should be more transparent and that the current system of closed hearings is in need of change.As part of ensuring that a fair trial takes place, Judges are required to act in a way that instills public confidence in the process. Hearing appeals behind closed doors restricts the public’s right to information. The only case in which a closed court is acceptable is where there is need for special protection of someone involved in the case.

· Corruption and political intervention in the justice system.
Responses included that to overcome corruption and avoid political interference in judicial decisions, Timor-Leste needs to further develop institutions in line with the doctrine of the separation of powers and there needs to be greater transparency in decision-making.

· A lack of justice for past crimes and human rights abuses.
A variety of related barriers to achieving justice were raised in response including the difficulty of extradition in the absence of an international agreement as well as political considerations such as the desire to preserve Timor-Leste’s relations with Indonesia. Some speakers also suggested that more could be done to seek extradition, in particular when alleged perpetrators are visiting third countries. It was agreed that the best prospect for achieving justice would be through an international court.

· The use of pardons.
The general consensus of presenters that addressed this issue was that pardons need to be granted within a framework that regulates their use in order to ensure that they are not misused by political actors.

· The role of foreign nationals in the justice sector.
Although it was agreed that Timor-Leste’s justice sector has undergone a significant degree of development, it was agreed there remains a continuing need for further assistance to develop local capacity and to ensure the independence and efficacy of the justice sector in the future.

Outcomes

The general consensus emerging from the seminar was that:

· The Appeals Court should operate more transparently and conduct open trials to instill public confidence in the judicial process and ensure that a fair trial has been conducted.

· The composition of the Appeals Court is problematic as appeals are heard and decided by the same pool of judges that hear cases at first instance.  A fair trial is more likely to be assured if the panel presiding over an appeal is comprised of different members than those that have heard the matter previously. The introduction of a separate Constitutional Court could therefore be considered.

· All defendants have the right to a fair trial and to have appeals heard in accordance with their rights under the law.

· Political interference in the administration of justice is an impediment to achieving the rule of law.

· Pardons should only be granted in accordance with a formal and transparent process.

·Timor-Leste should continue to seek justice for past crimes and human rights abuses related to the occupation through an international court.

·The justice sector in Timor-Leste has come a long way since independence but there remains a continuing need for further assistance to develop local capacity and to ensure the independence and efficacy of the justice sector.

· Ongoing community education concerning government and court processes is needed to improve public understanding of democracy and Timor-Leste’s institutions. Source: JSMP Press Release 28 June 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

ETLJB congratulates JSMP for its continuing and outstanding work in the justice sector in East Timor.

Extraordinary Meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers 29 July 2013

ETLJB 31 July 2013 - The V Constitutional Government met extraordinarily on 29 July 2013 in the Council of Ministers Meeting Room at the Government Palace in Díli and approved the following:

1. Renewal of the Contract for Supply of Diesel Power Plants

The Council of Ministers approved the renewal of the contract for the supply of diesel for power plants with the company ETO (Esperança Timor-Oan) until January 2014, and the Ministry of Public Works is responsible for preparing an international tender for the subsequent supply by September 2013.

The Council of Ministers also analysed the following:

1. Presentation of the Project “Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Northern Territory of Australia

Regional Integrated Economic Development”

Recognizing the potentialities of the Regional Integrated Economic Development of Timor-Leste with Indonesia, the former Minister of Economy and Development of the IV Constitutional Government, João Gonçalves, submitted to the Council of Ministers a draft of an initiative that promotes and provides legal and institutional support. Ministers of the Northern Territory of Australia have expressed the will to actively participate in this project.

The project is based mainly on three connectivity types: physical, institutional and people-to-people. Physical connectivity refers to transport, information and communication technologies and energy areas. Institutional connectivity refers to trade, services, and investment liberalization, mutual recognition agreements, regional transport agreements, cross-border procedures and capacity building programs. The education, culture and tourism areas belong to people-to-people connectivity. Source: V Constitutional Government Press Release 29 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

29 July 2013

Police fail in conflict prevention in Timor-Leste as civil society appeals for more effective efforts

ETLJB 29 July 2013 The Timorese National Police (PNTL) Deputy Commander, Afonso de Jesus, has acknowledged that the police force has failed in its conflict prevention plans and this has left the impression that the police just come to the conflict areas to pick up dead bodies and wounded people.

According to a report in Suara Timor Lorosae on 11 July, Deputy Commander Afonso de Jesus told STL reporters on Tuesday at the police headquarters that “We recognize that there has been failure in PNTL operations plan because when PNTL members arrive, the conflict has happened and left the wounded people or even the bodies and sometimes PTNL members do patrols in one place, while the conflict happens in other places.” He added that PNTL as an institution which was responsible for security continued to work together with all PNTL units to control and conduct patrols in potential conflict areas.

In the wake or recent violent conflicts in the country's capital, Dili, the leading security sector monitoring organisation, Fundasaun Mahein, has appealed for more support for conflict prevention efforts and that they be streamlined and more effectively distributed.

In a press release on 26 July, FM noted that  "[t]he recent increase in Martial Arts Gang disturbances has led to a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding gang violence. As it is unclear whether this policy will focus on post-conflict punishment or pre-conflict prevention, this policy has placed a renewed emphasis on the importance of conflict prevention in Timor-Leste. On 30 July 2013, civil society activists – together with the military, police, and State Secretary for Security – will hold a large meeting in the Suku Casa of Ainaro to discuss issues in conflict prevention.

The government’s official conflict prevention efforts have come through two departments. First, via the State Secretary for Security which created the DNPKK (the National Directorate for Community Conflict Prevention). Second, via the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which created the Department Harii Dame. Although these organizations are well funded, they have been unsuccessful in gaining community participation, support, or legitimacy. As a result, the output of the DNPKK’s and Department Harii Dame’s conflict prevention efforts has been largely underwhelming.

Fundasaun Mahein is concerned that these two organizations have been assigned the same (overlapping) jobs in community conflict prevention, but neither have been doing their jobs successfully despite enormous financial support. Unofficial efforts at conflict prevention have come from the KPK (Community Police Councils) organizations. This organization is comprised of various groups and stakeholders including the youth, women, veterans, and Suku (village) counsels within each community.

Utilising a preventative framework, the KPK works with NGO’s and government institutions to share information and examine the root causes of problems so that a solution may be reached. The KPK has been impressively successful in increasing security and peace throughout the 5 districts in which it operates. Yet, the KPK operates without financial or legislative support from the government. Why should multiple organizations (the KPK, KNPKK, and MSS) tasked with achieving similar goals operate when their simultaneous existence is counter-productive and confusing to community members?

Fundasaun Mahein recommends that conflict prevention efforts be streamlined and legitimized through the creation of a single government-backed institution. The KPK has shown itself to be the organization with a proven record of results, making a strong case for increased governmental support in the form of investments and legislative backing. In addition, Fundasaun Mahein supports the model of community meetings like the one to be held at Suku Casa on July 30, where civil society activists will meet with members of the military, police, and State Secretary for Security to discuss conflict prevention issues. It is our view that community conflict prevention efforts in which various community groups are represented is the most successful strategy.

Sources: Suara Timor Lorosae, July 11, 2013 Fundasaun Mahein Press Release 26 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

27 July 2013

Timor-Leste National Database for Humanitarian Projects and Community Development 2013

ETLJB 27 July 2013 Belun and the Database Network (FONGTIL and Fundasaun Alola) provide civil society / organisation project information  to the all beneficiaries or development partners (Government, NGOs, Bilateral and Agencies).

The Database strengthens relations and coordination between donors for community development projects, and assists government institutions and civil society organizations to run programs that complement the National Development Strategic Plan.

The Database also prevents the duplication of project objectives by government or civil society programs.

To access the latest organization and project information for civil society implement  in Timor Leste, click here to download general organization contact information.

Please lets us know if you have any request about data and any questions.

The database may be accessed by clicking on this link https://www.dropbox.com/sh/f7eyx4v83frhc06/hHd14m37l4/Contact_List_Per%20Apr-Jun%202013.xlsx

"Martial arts" gangs continue to wreak havoc in East Timor

ETLJB 27 July 2013 - The so-called "martial arts" groups in East Timor continue to wreak havoc in the community despite purported efforts by the government of Xanana Gusmao to reign in the violence. In the latest move by the government to deal with the long-standing social problem, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has said that the Government had issued a resolution to halt martial arts clubs’ activities in Timor-Leste, following numerous incidents of violence and killings involving the martial arts clubs members.

According to an English translation of a report on TVTL, the prime minister made the comments after handing over project documents to the Anti-Corruption Commission last Friday.

Xanana also warned the country’s security force members, such as the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) and the National Police (PNTL) that they would be sacked from their institution if they were found to have engaged in martial arts activities.

”We issued the resolution to halt their activities as the situation is difficult and it is also because they kill one another. Brother and sisters are divided; we have lost our culture of respecting one another.”

”So, we close them down, we appealed to their leaders. I forgave them when I was still president of the republic,” he told journalists.

Last year the Government issued a resolution to suspend the martial arts clubs’ activities for one year, but there has been no change, conflicts and violence continue happening everywhere in the country.

Meanwhile, Suara Timor Lorosae reported on 8 July that the Timor-Leste National Youth Council (CNJTL) supported the Government’s resolution to permanently close down the martial arts groups in the country.

”I agree with the Government’s decision to close down martial arts groups because it is an order that people should obey,” CNJTL President Leovizildo da Costa Hornai told STL at his office in Farol of Dili on Saturday 6. He called on Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to give instruction to the State Secretariat of Sports and Youths, State Secretariat of Security and the Ministry of State Administration and Territorial Management to conduct public education programs about the issued resolution.

The leader of a martial arts groups has since been reported as agreeing with the Prime Minister's decsion. Timor Post reported on 10 July comments from the one of the groups' leaders, Silvester Xavier Sufa, saying  “We are from Kera Sakti and we agree with the declaration of the prime minister as it is a good decision to prevent conflict in the country,” President for Kera Sakti  said.

Sufa said the decision that Prime Minister Xanana took was positive as it would have a positive impact for the people in the country.

“As citizens, we should bow to the decision that state’s leaders take as this country wants to stay at peace,” he said.

Since the government resolution was passed, extra police have been called in for night patrols to combat martial arts groups activities. According to a report in Independente on 10 July,  a special police task force targeting martial art gang activity will be patrolling the Dili streets 24 hours a day, following a sharp increase in gang related violence recently.

Police will undertake routine inspections during the day and night across Dili paying particular attention to areas that have been identified as gang hot spots such as Comoro and Beto Barat.

“Our members do routine operations at night and day, they conduct operations in the villages that we have identified already as potential violence hotspots,” Operation Commander of National Police, Armando Monteiro told Independente yesterday at his office in Caicoli of Dili. Sources: Televizaun Timor-Leste 08/07/2013 Suara Timor Lorosae 08/07/2013 Independente 10/07/2013 Timor-Post 10 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

One Indonesian killed, two Chinese critically injured in violence in Dili

ETLJB 27 July 2013 - An Indonesian national has been killed and two Chinese citiznes seriously wounded in a violent attack on a shop in front of the Fretilin party's Central Committee office in Komoro on 7 July.

According to a report in Suara Timor Lorosae on 9 July 2013, the Deputy Commander of the East Timor National Police,  Afonso de Jesus, said the police were chasing up an unknown group of people who perpetrated the attack.

”The incident last Sunday night, leaving three foreigners victim; an Indonesian being killed and two Chinese  seriously wounded who are receiving medical treatment in the Guido Valadares National Hospital (HNGV),” Afonso said in his Office on Monday 8 July.

On 10 July, Independente reported that the police had already identified the suspects who killed the Indonesian citizen. Independente reported that the  Timorese National Police (PNTL) hads identified four suspects who were involved in killing an Indonesian citizen and wounding the two Chinese citizens in Merkadu Comoro.

PNTL Operational Commander, Armando Monteiro said that the investigation process was ongoing and that  “sooner or later, we are going to capture the suspects to process them,” he said at PNTL head quarters in Caicoli in the capital, Dili, on 9 July. Source: STL 9 July 2013. Independente 10 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

08 July 2013

Court jails husband for 21 years for murdering wife by strangulation and stabbing

ETLJB 08 July 2013 -  The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on a murder trial in the Dili District Court which arose out of domestic violence. The text of the translation follows.

On 5 July 2013 the Dili District Court read out its decision and handed down a sentence of 21 years imprisonment against the defendant Augostinho Soares Lay who was found guilty of committing aggravated homicide characterized as domestic violence against the deceased RS (his wife) in Tasi Tolu, Dili.

"JSMP welcomes this decision and encourages the court to consider homicide in the domestic sphere as a serious crime that must be punished with a punishment proportionate to the act committed,” said the Executive Director of JSMP,  Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

The court concluded this case based on the confession of the defendant, namely that on 29 January 2013 he killed his wife.The defendant committed the act by strangling the victim and stabbing the victim in the chest causing the victim to die at the scene of the crime.Then the defendant took some black rubber and tied up the body of the victim and placed it in some black plastic and then disposed of the body in Metiaut.

Previously, in his final allegations, the public prosecutor requested for the court to hand down a sentence of 20 years imprisonment against the defendant. However, the court handed down a sentence of 21 years imprisonment.This sentence was one year longer that the allegations of the public prosecutor.

The public defender requested for the court to reduce the sentence recommended by the public prosecutor because he considered that the defendant committed the crime due to provocation from the victim, and also the defendant was suspicious that the victim was having an amorous relationship with another man.

JSMP believes that although the defendant claimed that there was provocation from the victim, these circumstances could not be used as a reason to justify the act, as was intended by the public defender.The Penal Code clearly states that any person who takes the life of another person must be punished severely, including when there is provocation. In addition, the RDTL Constitution states that the State also guarantees and protects the life of every person. Therefore, taking the life of another person is not the way to solve a problem.

JSMP hopes that this decision can be an important lesson for the community to handle every problem/conflict in a peaceful manner to avoid impacting on the life of another. Source: JSMP Press Release 5/07/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright 

Related reports on ETLJB on murders in East Timor
Timor Leste peak justice NGO praises Court's decision on aggravated murder of student by police 
Aggravated murder, manslaughter, sexual abuse of minors, assaults and property damage cases heard in Baucau District Court
Murder, attempted murder, sex crime against a minor, assaults and domestic violence hearings in Dili District Court, November 2012

Murders, Drugs, Assaults, Embezzlement, Corruption & Land Disputes: Summary of Cases Heard by the Dili District Court in May 2011
Murder and witchcraft in Timor-Leste
Suai District Court hands down suspended sentence in domestic violence case
Court must review decision to uphold 15 year prison sentence in aggravated murder case, says JSMP
Timor-Leste Public Prosecutor seeks 17 year sentence for the crime of attempted aggravated murder characterised as domestic violence 

Public servant murdered 
Massacre leaving 5 dead the result of a land dispute

07 July 2013

Communal land in East Timor - A $1.3 billion lesson from Australia

ETLJB 7 July 2013 - Earlier this year, the government of East Timor and the community of Kamanasa Suco on the southern district of Suai "celebrated" an agreement whereby the community would surrender a large tract of 1113 hectares of customary land to the government for a government project; namely, the Suai supply base and industrial park.

The government of East Timor boasted in a press release that the benefits to come [to the community would be] "in the form of jobs for local people during both the construction and operational phases, landowners are to be recompensed through a 10% share of profit from the project."

The government press release also asserted that "[t]his is a far more significant share than has been offered to traditional landowners in other countries including Australia."

I took issue with this situation and the assertions made by the Government of East Timor and wrote in an earlier post that" [c]ommunity land in East Timor has no juridical status and with no law governing the acquisition of such land by the state for public purposes, communities have no bargaining power to have just compensation paid to them by the state for such acquisitions. 

In a subsequent post, I further expressed my opinion that "it is not really apposite to compare the relative positions of traditional land owners in East Timor and Australia. This is because in Australia, the ownership of land and the existence of other rights over land by indigenous Australians such as fishing, hunting and gathering, sacred sites and so forth are actually enshrined in the law. In addition, there are juridically-constituted entities such as indigenous land councils that represent and act on behalf of the indigenous communities when the government wants to acquire traditional lands for public purposes or private enterprise wishes to exploit natural resources on native title lands or undertake pastoral or tourism ventures on native title land. All of this puts the Australian indigenous communities in a much stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis the state or private capital whereas neither of those things exists in East Timor. There is no law that acknowledges community land ownership or that constitutes bodies to represent the communities who have owned the land (in so far as ownership of community land can be approximated to the Western legal notions of property ownership) since time immemorial."

Furthermore, I noted that "In Australia, following the famous Mabo decision of the High Court in 1992 that native title continued to exist on the continent, the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) enable Aboriginal people to lodge claims for native title. Native title is a concept recognised by the common law and legislation which establishes that a particular group holds specific native title rights and interests.

There is no such law or jurisprudence in the legal system of East Timor. Furthermore, if any Australian government acquires the native title land absolutely for a public purpose, then it is liable to pay just compensation to the community - with just compensation being the current market value of the land.  Current market value is the international standard for compulsory acquisition of property and, in the case of the federal Government in Australia, it is constitutionally-bound to pay compensation on just terms. Again, there is no such law or jurisprudence in East Timor.

There is a host of other questions arising from this development. For example, with whom did the Government of East Timor negotiate? Who represented the affected communities and what rights did they have to enter into agreements with the government about the community's lands? Was the community afforded access to legal advice? Was the agreement written in a language that is understood by the community? What exactly are the terms of the agreement and what happens, for instance, if no profits are generated from the project? Ten percent of nothing is nothing.

What are those profits and how are they expected to be generated? How will the 10% be held, managed and distributed for the benefit of the community? Have the community's land rights been extinguished forever or do some rights continue to co-exist with the rights that have been ceded to the government by the agreement?"

It was, and remains my opinion, that it was "disingenuous of the government of East Timor to draw any comparisons to the traditional land ownership in East Timor and that in Australia."

I am reiterating these issues here in this post to point out an unprecedented development in the complex issue of native title in Australia which further demonstrates the vast differences in the ways that laws and policies in Australia and East Timor deal with the issue of the title of indigenous communal land when the traditional owners are facing the state over claims for compensation for the acquisition of their land.

It was reported in the Australian media this week* that, in the state of Western Australia, the West Australian Government has put forward an offer worth $1.3 billion to the Noongar people in a bid to settle native title claims over the state's capital city, Perth and the south west region of the state.

The offer includes the establishment of a perpetual trust into which the government would invest $50 million each year for 12 years and more than 300,000 hectares of Crown land (the equivalent of State land in East Timor) would be held by the trust designed to support social, cultural and economic development of the Noongar population and that if the offer is accepted, it will represent the most comprehensive agreement of its kind in Australian history.

"This is recognition of the unique place the Noongar people occupy in WA's history," he said. It will will put an end to long and expensive disputes.


This case represents a model by which the claims of traditional communities all over the world, including East Timor, should strive to meet.

*  West Australian Government offers Noongar people $1.3 billion native title deal ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-06/noongar-offer/4803700 Accessed 7 July 2013


Author: Warren L. Wright

06 July 2013

No justice for women in traditional justice systems in Timor-Leste

Image: Arte Moris
ETLJB 6 July 2013 - According to a women’s rights advocate, traditional justice carried out in Timor-Leste, especially in the districts, doesn’t benefit women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse because they don’t receive justice in their lives.

The Dili Weekly reported on 5 July 2013, that women’s advocate Filomena Reis, who has analysed and observed traditional justice systems, said even though there are not many cases resolved through traditional justice in Dili, in rural areas its use is increasing because people prioritise family relations over formal justice.

“I can see the traditional process can be good and fast, but there’s no advantage for women who continue to become victims, because when families say they’ve reinstated her good name and paid the fine, this benefits the woman’s family not the woman,” said Reis recently at Garden Beach, Dili.

According to her, traditional justice can only resolve civil cases but for criminal cases against women, including cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual violations, they should use formal justice to resolve the case fairly.

Therefore, she encouraged women who are victims of gender-based violence to address the case through the formal justice sector in a court.

“Don’t be afraid to report it when you encounter such violence and you should know that violence is a crime that should be addressed through the formal justice system,” she said.

On the other hand, the President for Commission A (for the Constitution Affairs, Justice, Public Administration, Local Power and Anti-Corruption), MP Carmelita Caetano Moniz, said the law on domestic violence doesn’t allow traditional justice to judge criminal cases like domestic and sexual violence.

“We consider domestic violence a public crime which cannot be resolved through traditional justice,” said MP Moniz.

She added it is illegal and against the law to use traditional justice to resolve criminal cases like domestic violence and sexual violations.

MP Moniz also called for the government to raise awareness about the contents of the law to guarantee justice for women in the community, especially in rural areas because criminal cases are often resolved through traditional justice. Source: The Dili Weekly 5 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related reports
Suai District Court fails to protect child victim of sexual violence
On the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Dispute Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste

Gangs take control of Dili streets at night

ETLJB 6 July 2013 - Martial arts gang have virtually taken control of the streets during the night in several parts of Dili and District locations, causing havoc and unrest, with police proving a little barrier according to civil rights organizations.

According to a report by Jornal Independente on 5 July 2013, martial arts activity is not new in Timor-Leste, but it is expanding at a rapid pace, as the martial arts leaders remain free to recruit and train their members.

The increase in activity comes as police struggle contain raising tension and violence amongst martial art groups members in Dili and Baucau in relation for the killing student, Fernando de Sousa in Malang recently. It is understood anger about the death has sparked tension between youth in martial arts gangs.

Meanwhile, Suara Timor Lorosae reports that the government is to continue suspending martial arts' activities

In regard to martial arts violence that has again occurred in the community recently, the Timorese National Police (PNTL) Command has ordered each PNTL District Command to monitor martial arts activities.

PNTL National Operational Commander, Armando Monteiro, is reported to have said that the Government had suspended martial arts activities since December, 2012 and the Government continued the suspension this year.

"The Government's resolution suspends martial arts activities, such as training and other movements, therefore, PNTL plays its role to monitor the martial arts activities during the suspension time," Armando told journalists at PNTL Headquarters in Caicoli of Dili on Thursday 4. Sources: Jornal Independente, TLMDC Translation 5 July 2013; Suara Timor Lorosae, July 5, 2013  Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related post
Police slow to act against gang violence in Timor-Leste

Police slow to act against gang violence in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 6 July 2013 - East Timor's peak security sectormonitoring NGO, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), has reported on further recent violence between the so-called "martial arts" gangs in the capital Dili.

According to the FM report, on Monday 1 July 2013 at approximately 9-10 pm in Marconi (the area behind Dili Beach Hotel and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) two opposing martial arts gangs gathered to fight one another. The gathering was reportedly related to events from earlier in the day, when the body of a young Timorese man killed in Indonesia arrived in Timor-Leste.

The police reportedly arrived late to the scene, even though they had been called hours earlier as the teenagers began to gather.

Fundasaun Mahein recommends in its report that the police should be proactive in such situations with potential for conflict. This was clearly a planned incident. Everybody in the community knew this was happening, and it was at the end of an already-eventful day, so why was there no preventative action? It is not good to make community members concerned in the middle of the night.

Additionally, Fundasaun Mahein recommended that local community members that should stay in their houses and call their local police immediately if they should witness this type of negative gathering. The police can be reached at the phone number 7300-0112, and general emergencies should be directed to the phone number 112.

If injuries have already occurred, the phone number for Guido Valaderes National Hospital is 331-1088. Private clinics also exist, and Stamford Medical can be reached at 331-0141 while Aspen Medical can be reached at 331-1517. The phone country code for Timor-Leste is +670.

Fundasaun Mahein also recommended in its report that international residents contact their embassies for a phone number for 24-hour assistance (if available), in case a conflict-related incident should happen after regular business hours. Source: Fundasaun Mahein 3/07/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Timor -Leste Member of Parliament reports another case of police brutality

Police brutality in Timor-Leste
ETLJB 6 July 2013 - Timor Post has reported another alleged incident of police brutality in East Timor. Timor Post reports that a Member of the National Parliament told parliament that he lamented the actions of an individual Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) officer who physically assaulted a youth in Suco Beco, District of Covalima, Sub district of Suai Vila, last Friday 28 June.

"On 28 June last, in Suco Beco, Subdistrict of Suai Vila, District of Covalima at 10:00 hours in the morning, the police officer assaulted a youth who was riding a motorbike without a helmet.  The policeman just launched a physical assault on him without warning or questioning him, kicking him, but falling over himself as he carried out the assault," MP Cristovao Barros told the National Parliament's Plenary on Monday 1 June last.

After having fallen over in plain view of a large number of the witnessing public, and having felt embarrassed, the police officer took his pistol out and fired it, and called the police post for reinforcements, proceeding to assault the youth to the point he needed to be hospitalized at the Covalima Referral Hospital.

FRETILIN MP David Dias Ximenes "Mandati" also expressed his lamentation with the actions of the police assaulting the public, an issue he has raised many times previously but continues to occur unheeded.

"When the police acts they should first engage in dialogue with people and ascertain the facts, but not nowadays, because they have become accustomed to just beating people, so they think beating people up is the way to solve a problem, which is wrong," David lamented.

This type of behavior by police has not just happened in Covalima, but last Thursday (27 June) a civilian guard and patients at the National Hospital had to flee in panic after becoming witnesses some police officers attacking a Hospital security guard on hospital grounds.  Source: Jornal Timor Post 03 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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05 July 2013

Suai District Court hears homicide, rape, manslaughter and property damage cases

Map showing location of Suai
ETLJB 05 July 2013 - The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on observations of proceedings in the Suai District Court during the month of June 2013. The text of the translation follows.

On 26 and 27 June 2013 the Suai District Court conducted a mobile court to hear 8 cases in Bobonaro District.These cases comprised 2 cases of homicide, 3 cases of rape, 2 cases of manslaughter and 1 case of aggravated property damage.

The mobile court is a mechanism that has been developed to bring justice to the people who live a long way from the courts, so that they can have access to the formal justice system.This program is carried out with the financial support of UNDP.

Seven cases have been dealt with final decision and the other case is scheduled to be decided on 13 July 2013. The case of manslaughter resulted in a punishment of  2 years 6 months imprisonment that was suspended for 5 years, and one case resulted in an acquittal because the public prosecutor could not prove the elements of the crime to convict the defendant for the death of the victim.

One case of sexual violence resulted in a punishment of 8 years imprisonment, another case resulted in an acquittal, and one other case was adjourned. In the case of aggravated property damage the convicted person was sentenced to 2 years four months imprisonment that was suspended for three years.

“JSMP acknowledges that the mobile court is a very productive mechanism for members of the community who live in isolated areas, however JSMP encourages the court to ensure that every legal process is carried out in accordance with the correct legal procedure,” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP notes that the mobile court is a progressive step forward and very appropriate in the current Timor-Leste context. However, JSMP is concerned that if the mobile court is not conducted carefully and with sensitivity it could undermine the legal interests of the parties who are directly involved in these cases.

JSMP observed that the court failed to protect victims of sexual violence because trials were open to the public. JSMP believes that the judicial actors are aware that according to the law cases that involve sexual violence and minors are automatically deemed closed to the public to protect the privacy and identity of the victim.

JSMP believes that this situation has occurred becauseof a lack of effective communication between the court and the local police. Therefore, JSMP requests for the court and relevant institutions to provide adequate infrastructure and facilities to assist the mobile court process so that it can be carried out effectively.

The mobile court was conducted by a panel of judges comprising Pedro Raposo de Fiquieredo, Costansio Baros Basmery, and Hugo da Cruz Pui.  The public prosecution service was represented by Benvinda da Costa Rosario and Jacinto Babo Soares.  The defendants were represented by public defender João Henrique de Carvalho.

Related report
Suai District Court fails to protect child victim of sexual violence

Source: JSMP Press Release 03/07/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Suai District Court fails to protect child victim of sexual violence

Image: W. Wright 2006. Arte Moris
ETLJB 5 July 2013 - East Timor's Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on a case of aggravatd sexual violance against a minor. The text of the report follows.

On 26 June 2013 the Suai District Court conducted a mobile hearing in Maliana, Bobonaro District. The hearing was held so the court could read out its decision in a case involving aggravated sexual violence.The defendant in this case CP committed sexual violence against a girl JMF who is a minor.

This case is very serious because the defendant committed sexual violence against the victim by threatening to hurt the victim with a machete if she refused.The defendant also threatened the victim not to tell her parents about the incident.The court sentenced the defendant to 8 years imprisonment and ordered him to pay court costs of $25.

In cases of sexual violence involving a minor the court has the responsibility to conduct hearings that are closed to the public to protect the identity and privacy of the victim as set out in Article 76 (5) of the Criminal Procedure Code. However the court failed to anticipate this situation and everyone there was allowed to freely attend the hearing.

"JSMP is very concerned with this incident because the court has failed to protect the identity and privacy of the victim. This situation will be very detrimental for the victim in the future. Hearings like this will not encourage other child victims to report their cases in the future because they will be worried that others will see them and find out about their case” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP warmly welcomes the initiative of the mobile court which was proposed by the judicial actors in each district court as a way of bringing justice to the people. However JSMP is still concerned with the locations used to conduct the hearings. Although the hearings are conducted in different locations the court still has to ensure that the rights, privacy and security of the parties are protected.

JSMP understands that when matters have reached the final decision the hearing will be open to the public; however JSMP encourages the courts to make exceptions in cases involving sexual violence and minors and to provide adequate protection.

JSMP requests for the judicial authorities to address this situation to provide proper protection to victims and other citizens in Timor-Leste.

This case was registered as Case No.102/PEN/2012. The hearing was presided over by judge PedroRaposoFiguerodo, the public prosecution service was represented by Jacinto Babo Soares and the defendant was represented by public defenderJoão Henrique.The court clerk appointed to handle this process was Vasco Kehi. Source: JSMP Press Release 03 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright 

Related report
Suai District Court hears homicide, rape, manslaughter and property damage cases

Growing numbers of women "throwing away" their babies in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 5 July 2013 - ETLJB has over the last few years published several reports on cases of babies being abandoned by their mothers in East Timor. The latest case was particularly appalling when the remains of a baby were found on a rubbish dump apparently having been partly eaten by dogs.

Now, according to the Secretary of State for the Equality Promotion, there is a growing number of cases of women abandoning their babies in every village in East Timor and has urged women's groups to design programs for women who abandon their babies.

The Dili Weekly reported that the Secretary of state of the Promotion of Equaity asked “Why are women throwing away their babies without good reason? I hope that women are the first influence to building peace within the village and within the nation, and it’s important to resolve these issues because we hear that women throw away their babies in each village and women are the ones who throw away babies not men,” said Idelta Maria Rodrigues, (03/05), in Dili.  

“It happens in every village, you can help to find out why this issue is happening so we can get some data and have information to improve the attitude growing in society,” said Secretary of state Rodrigues.

Meanwhile Martinha dos Santos, as a woman, said she feels sad when she hears about women throwing their babies away, as this often happens to students at junior and senior high school.

Under the doctrines of the Catholic Church that wields significant influence in East Timor, pre-marital sex is forbidden. Furthermore, it condemns the use of condoms as a means of preventing not only unwanted pregnancies but the minimisation of HIV/AIDS in East Timor.

As such, it is the teachings of the Catholic Church that are contributing to the horrifying phenomenon of the abandonment of babies as well as the spread of HIV, the infection of rate of which has also been increasing in recent years. If young adults were educated about pre-marital sex and the use of condoms, the incidence of unwanted pregnancies and the consequential abandonment of babies would be reduced. If proper public education programs about condom use were implemented, this would also be an effective public health policy to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Source: The Dili Weekly, ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

Infancticide and baby abandonment in Timor-Leste difficult to prosecute due to lack of witnesses -
Suspended sentence in infanticide case in East Timor no deterrent
Corpse of discarded baby in Dili partly eaten by dogs
Monsignor Ricardo: Act of throwing away baby against human dignity
Killing babies is a crime, says Bishop Nacimento
Police have identified female suspected of abandoning baby in Ailok Laran
Baby's body brought home by dog
Dili bishop condemns baby killings

Community Policing in Timor-Leste

ETLJB  5 July 2013 - The East Timor police have provided training to village community police in two Districts - Cova Lima and Liquisa - that focused on working with the community to provide security in the villages on those Districts.

According to a report in The Dili Weekly on 4 June 2013, Community Police Commander, Superintendent Boavida Ribeiro, said the objective of the training is to put security volunteers in each village in order to create a sense of security.

“The training is required because we are relocating one police officer to each village and we have 442 villages, so the 442 police will be put in each village,” said Commander Ribeiro, recently in Dili.

“We’ve held it in Liquisa and Suai districts, but the quality in each district is not the same so we look into the number of villages in each district, for example in Liquisa we held training for officials from 23 villages because there are 23 villages,” said Commander Ribeiro. In Covalima district, the training was given to officials from 30 villages while in Dili when they begin the training it will be given to more than 50 people.

“The training is conducted in each district for three days to give information about the function of the police in each village, how to improve their capacity and how to work together with the community to provide security in their village,” explained Commander Ribeiro. Source: The Dili Weekly 4 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Civil society demands investigation into police guns procurement from Indonesia

ETLJB 05 July 2013 - The issue of the procurement of guns for the East Timor police service continues to dog the government with the country's peak security monitoring NGO, Fundasaun Mahein, calling on the National Parliament to demand that the government of independence hero Xanana Gusmao establish an investigation into the procurement process. Earlier, the President of Parliamentary Commission B was reported to have said that the procurement process had not followed the lawful tender process.

The Acting Director of Fundasaun Mahein Joao Almeida Fernandes raised the issue again saying that “The General Commander of the PNTL(East Timor National Police) announced publicly that the PM2-V1 guns are already in Timor-Leste,” before the approval of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) had been obtained.

Mr Fernandes was reported by The Dili Weekly on 25 June that 75 of the PM2-V1 guns with the serial number 0001-00075s were purchased in Indonesia, with the PNTL to be the first in the world to use them.

“The National Parliament needs to demand the government quickly create an investigative commission to look into the guns, which were introduced without a transparent process at the beginning of 2013,” he said.

According to The Dili Weekly report, the police Deputy Commander Alfonso de Jesus refused to comment on the purchase of the guns but the President of Commission B of the National Parliament (National Security, Defence and Foreign Affair) MP Maria Lurdes Bessa confirmed thatthe commission had received a report from Fundasaun Mahein about the issue and they were currently concentrating on the issue.

“We do ask them to make an investigation team and that is underway, and we cannot publicise everything but the process is ongoing,” said the Commission B President.

The commission also has called the PNTL General Commander to go to the plenary to explain the accusations about the guns.

“We ask for an investigation because we have doubts about the process of buying those guns,” said MP Bessa.

Secretary of State for Security Francisco da Costa Guterres said an investigation was underway into the issue. Sources: The Dili Weekly 25/06/2013; ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related ETLJB posts
Police to acquire 72 MB5 guns from Indonesia
No transparency in government purchase of weapons from Indonesia 
Timor-Leste Will Buy More Guns?
Police weapons procurement failed to adhere to tender process as MP warns against purchasing arms from Indonesia
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03 July 2013

Timor-Leste Council of Ministers Meeting 25 June 2013

Timor-Leste flag image
ETLJB 03 July 2013 - The Council of Ministers met this Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in the Council of Ministers meeting room at the Government Palace in Dili and received the United Nations Representative for Guinea-Bissau, and former President of Timor-Leste, HE Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, updating them on the political process in Guinea- Bissau. Timor-Leste has been playing a supportive role in the development of that country, particularly through the establishment of the Agency for Cooperation of Timor-Leste.

At this meeting, the Council of Ministers also received Dr. Hafiz Pasha, former Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Pakistan and, till 2007, United Nations Assistant of the Secretary General and United Nations Development Program Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. Dr. Hafiz Pasha congratulated the Government of Timor-Leste for the Coordination Mechanism which is being developed for the implementation of the Strategic Development Plan (SDP), the Government Programme, and the Annual Action Plans. In July, this distinguished economist will present a report on his evaluation of this process.

At this meeting the Council of Ministers approved:

1. Government Resolution on the appointment of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Communications Authority

Under Decree-Law 15/2012 of 28 March the Council of Ministers appointed Mr. António Correia Brígido as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Communications Authority for a five year term.

The National Communications Authority (NCA) is a public institution to regulate the telecommunications sector.

2. The Demolition of the old Comoro Bridge and Construction of the second phase of the new Comoro Bridge

Road infrastructure is important to ensure the flow of traffic on this key route connecting the Nicolau Lobato International Airport with central Dili. On the verge of Timor-Leste’s Presidency of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) in 2014, it is essential to improve facilities to allow the accommodation of a greater number of daily visitors. Therefore it is vital to undertake this improvement of the capital of the country.

3. Proposal of Law on the Special Regime for Defining Ownership of Real Estate

The Special Regime for the Definition of Ownership of Real Estate creates mechanisms that freely and fairly allow an efficient way to identify rightful owners of Property, to recognize property rights and promote land distribution. This proposal takes into account the history of Timor-Leste and the knowledge accumulated over several years of studies and public consultations to strengthen consensus and balance between the various positions on the issue.

The approval of this legislation by the National Parliament is a key step in a process that as necessary has been lengthy and exhaustive yet critical for the development of the country.

4. Proposal of Law on Real Estate Financial Fund

This legislation creates a financial instrument needed for better implementation of the Special Regime for Defining Ownership of Real Estate. This proposal of law will now be sent to the National Parliament for approval.

5. Considerations on Investment Protection Treaties and Arbitration Regime

Investment Treaties are instruments which protect and promote foreign investment by providing for arbitration by third parties as an alternative to the national justice system and therefore attract more foreign investment. Since this type of arbitration is generally a slower process and not confidential, the Council of Ministers decided to establish a commission to study these considerations in view of national interests.

The Council of Ministers also analysed:

1. 2012 Study on Schooling in Timor-Leste

This study was developed in 2012 by the National Statistics Directorate in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, AusAID, and the World Bank with these three objectives: to take stock of the state of Education in the Country, identify gaps, and inform the development of evidence-based policies to improve schooling in Timor-Leste.

The preliminary results of this study indicate a substantial increase in enrollment in primary through secondary education. In 2002, 242,999 students were enrolled in the system and in 2010 there were 333.00 students. The increase in the number of teachers was also significant during that same period – it more than doubled. In 2002 there was a teacher for every 45 students and by 2010 this ratio improved to a teacher for every 25 students. The construction of new schools has also increased: from about 850 in 2002 to nearly 1,400 in 2012.

2. Project to create Aileu Institute

The Ministry of Education presented the project to create the Aileu Institute (Instituto Superior de Aileu – ISA), a proposed partnership with the International Association for Higher Education and Training (Aifes).

3. Changing the School Calendar

The Ministry of Education analyzed the school organization and administration structure, and noted that the current academic calendar of public education in Timor-Leste raises some administrative obstacles and proposed changes to its planned school calendar.

4. Celebrations of August 20

On August 20, on the occasion of the National Day of the F-FDTL Celebration this year the Betano Electricity Centre will be inaugurated. The Minister of Social Solidarity reviewed the preparations for these festivities which will include within them the second ceremony of the Demobilization of Combatants for National Liberation. Source: Presidency of the East Timor Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government Press Release 25 June 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright
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