28 March 2014

Fundasaun Mahein: Reporting Criminal Cases through Correct Legal Channels

ETLJB 28/03/2014 - From Fundasaun Mahein Press Release 24/03/2014 In Timor-Leste, victims often do not present their legal cases in accordance with the code of the penal process as written in article 49. This article establishes that only appointed institutions that have the legal right to receive such cases can do so. These institutions include the public ministry and policing authorities as well as appointed ombudsman, which have been appointed by the the Constitution Democratic of Timor-Leste.

National media reports published that victims always present cases to the National Parliament-NP or the Prime Minister (including the office of the Republic President). One reason why victims present their cases to the National Parliament is because they want to get responses quickly.  They also hope to create public debate surrounding their cases, as many such cases involve PNTL members, and the investigation process moves very slowly.

This practice has become a widespread habit. Fundasaun Mahein’s monitoring has unveiled that sometimes communities present their cases in order to get support from the National Parliament. To do so, they bring their cases to Parliamentary committees and benches of Parliament. The majority of issues presented by communities are criminal cases, often involving security authorities.

On the other hand, many communities are not aware of the procedure for the investigation process involving PNTL members involved in criminal acts. So when members of the PNTL are involved in crime, victims will present their case to organizations such as the National Parliament. In reality, victim should present these cases to the Criminal Investigation Service and Justice Department inside the PNTL.

Ironically, when communities present these cases to Parliament, the National Parliament often becomes the spokesperson for the referred cases. National Parliament should be transferring such cases to the judiciary system according to the law.

FM’s Recommendations:

Recommend to the National Parliament not to be the spokesperson for victims. When victims present their cases to Parliament, they should be referred to the Public Ministry.  In this way, community members will learn the correct process by which to report their cases (which does not involve National Parliament). The National Parliament should focus only on their duty as legislators and should respect the authority of the judiciary organ.

Recommend to the committee A of the National Parliament, Justice Ministry Ombudsman, and PNTL to take steps to educate the public about how to utilize and report cases within the judicial system.

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