17 October 2014

JSMP: Commitment and Productivity of the East Timor National Parliament (TOR)

East Timor National Parliament Chambers
ETLJB 17/10/2014 From JSMP Introduction - JSMP is a non-government organisation established on 28 April 2001 with a vision to build a “Democratic society which guarantees justice and human rights for all”. JSMP’s mission is to reach its vision through “monitoring, legal education and advocacy”. JSMP’s focuses its monitoring on the courts and the National Parliament.

JSMP has monitored the National Parliament, and given training to community leaders and community members regarding democracy and public participation in the law making process from 2010 until today. These activities aim to contribute to increasing the productivity and quality of the work of the National Parliament in making laws, providing oversight and making political decisions. While the objective of training community leaders and community members is to increase community understanding about democracy and the role of sovereign organs, it is also to promote public participation in the law making process.

Since its establishment, JSMP has produced reports containing various substantive and practical recommendations for the National Parliament to increase productivity and the quality of its work.  JSMP has also organised a series of national seminars to invite community leaders and members from villages which have received training from JSMP, together with members of Parliament, to convey their thoughts, concerns, criticisms and complaints regarding what issues they confront and what they need.

JSMP’s observations in 2014 show that the National Parliament’s productivity is down compared with previous legislative years. Productivity is a measure for the effectiveness of the National Parliament’s work, particularly members of parliament and commissions. This productivity can be measured by the quantity and quality of legislative projects which the National Parliament initiates, holds consultations with the public on, debates and approves, as well as its performance of oversight and political decision making. In addition, we can see the number of proposed laws which come from the Government for which the National Parliament conducts consultations with the public, debates and approves in a legislative year.  In 2014, the number of laws which the National Parliament passed was very few. The laws which the National Parliament passed in the legislative year were: Law No. 1/2014 for the first alteration of Law No. 3/2011 which was prepared and proposed from the Cabinet of the President of the Republic; Law No. 2/2014 for the 2014 State Budget; and Law No. 3/2014 for the Special Economic Zone for the autonomous region of Oecusse.



Other information, which JSMP has obtained during training and information dissemination activities regarding democracy and public participation in the law making process in communities in rural areas, shows that there are significant structural impediments to public involvement in these processes.

JSMP has discovered that many communities do not yet know what democracy is, what the roles of each sovereign organ are, particularly the role of the National Parliament, and the  limitations on community participation in the legislative process.

Communities also present their complaints and critical observations regarding the work of sovereign organs to respond to their interests, especially public consultation mechanisms which are not very effective and do not gather people’s opinions.

The commitment to democracy needs involvement from all people in the legislative process and thus requires providing sufficient space for the public to contribute to the political and legislative process which affects the public interest.

Seeing the reality and the facts, JSMP has thought to organise a one day National Seminar on the topic of “Commitment and Productivity of the National Parliament”. This seminar will act as a space for communities to hear directly and understand about the productivity and commitment of members of parliament to the legislative process and how the public can be involved in this process.

Members of parliament who represent the people can listen and take consideration. In addition, the seminar can facilitate direct communication between community representatives and their elected representatives in the National Parliament.

This forum will also enable representatives of the people to present what they have done to respond to the needs of the people during the year. Further, community representatives can take this opportunity to provide their thoughts and present the actual reality which they face to their representatives in the National Parliament.

Similarly, this is also an opportunity for participants to hear directly from Civil Society about observations on the productivity of the National Parliament’s work, perspectives from academics regarding the productivity and quality of the work of the National Parliament, particularly on matters such as the Law on Pensions, how the law impacts on the people’s interests, and also hear about the role of the Ombudsman of Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) in relation to the issue of unconstitutional laws passed by the National Parliament.

Objectives

The principal objectives of this National Seminar are as follows:

I.       General

·         Increase the productivity and commitment of MPs so they create a fixed annual legislative plan to initiate laws, reschedule projects, propose important laws which have expired, or alter laws which do not benefit the people. 

·         Improve and promote transparency, accountability and the quality of work in the National Parliament in the law-making term, oversight and political decision making.

·         Encourage public participation and MP’s commitment to the law making process in the National Parliament to (passing) laws and policies which respond effectively and efficiently to people’s needs.

·         Promote National Parliament’s creativity in establishing a public consultation mechanism which increases participation in order to collect all people’s thoughts, desires and interests in the law-making process.

II.       Specific:

·         To facilitate closer means of communication between the community and their representatives in the National Parliament, especially their knowledge about the National Parliament’s progress during the performance of their roles as MPs in this legislative year, including directly listening to what changes people need. In particular, local leaders and the public in general can together promote interactive dialogue between people and MPs.

·         To facilitate an improvement in the public’s knowledge of challenges in the National Parliament which impact on its productivity in the law making process, oversight and political decision making in the National Parliament which is the principal responsibility of MPs.

Support

This seminar is being held with support from The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

Participants

Participants will include five (5) people from each of the six (6) districts which have received JSMP training and information, including some communities in Dili District. These participants will comprise village chiefs, community members, as well as female and male community leaders/representatives.

Speakers

Speakers in this seminar come from the National Parliament’s leadership, civil society, academia and the Ombudsman of Human Rights and Justice, and include the following:


    Mr Aderito Hugo da Costa (Vice President of the National Parliament)
    Mr Hugo Fernandes (civil society representative)
    Mr Antero Bendito (UNTL-Academic representative),
    Mr Silveiro Pinto Baptista (Deputy Ombudsman of Human Rights and Justice)


Moderator

This seminar wil be moderated directly by JSMP which will be represented by:
Ms Eurosia Maria Almeida de Fatima and Mr Osorio da Conceição.

Time and Place

This National Seminar will be conducted on:
Day                 : 17 October 2014
Place                : Delta Nova, Dili
Time                : 08:30am until close Source: JSMP Press Release 16 October 2014
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