01 July 2014
Concerns about access to justice in Timor-Leste and how the justice system treats ordinary citizens and state officials
On 5 February 2014 the Legal Research Unit (LRU) and the Outreach Unit of the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) provided training to residents of Raifun Village, Bobonaro District. The training was attended by members of the village administrative structure such as the Village Chief, Sub-Village Chief, elders and youth representatives. 30 participants attended the training, comprising 14 males and 16 females.
The training encompassed human rights, the role of judges, prosecutors, private lawyers and public defenders, the classification of criminal cases and how criminal cases dealt are dealt with through the formal justice system.
During the training session the participants expressed their serious concerns and confusion about the concept of children's rights which often cause children to misuse their rights and parents have lost their right to control their children. In addition, they also expressed concern about the different way that the law treats ordinary citizens and high ranking officials or rich people, as well as the formal justice process and the work of lawyers and the capacity of citizens to obtain quality lawyers to represent them in court.
“This confusion has arisen because the community does not receive reliable information and does not have the opportunity to access correct information. This requires a combined effort from the relevant government institutions and we hope that this training activity can clarify several issues relating to public doubt and confusion about the functioning of the formal justice system through the community leaders,” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis Oliveira Sampaio.
In his opening speech the Chief of Raifun Sub-Village, Alberto Amaral, expressed his gratitude at the presence of JSMP in his village, and also because this training activity can distribute important information about the legal process to members of his village.
Therefore, he requested and encouraged the participants of this training to pay maximum attention to the materials delivered by the facilitator so that they would not immediately forget the information and so they would be able to pass it on to other members of the community.
The Chief of Raifun Sub-Village, Manuel Lacasari, recommended for JSMP to help pass on the message to the competent institutions to pay attention to children who have been neglected by their parents, so they can establish a shelter for them.
JSMP has a plan to conduct the same training on 13 February 2014 in Ermera District. Source:JSMP Press Release 10/02/2014)