20 August 2015

Commemoration of 40 years of FALINTIL

ETLJB 20/8/2015 Media Release from the VI Constitutional Government Dili, 19 August, 2015 - Celebrations are taking place this week that will culminate in special events on Thursday the 20th of August when the Nation observes FALINTIL Day, this year commemorating 40 years since the formation of the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste’s resistance army fought for 24 years in the difficult struggle for freedom, a small and illequipped army without any external military support, against a giant and its allies. With great courage and against all odds FALINTIL soldiers maintained a persistent guerrilla campaign until the people of Timor-Leste were able to vote in the 1999 referendum on independence.

Reflecting on FALINTIL’s impact, last year former Commander H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao noted “the sun rises every day over a free Timor-Leste because of the sacrifices of the combatants of national liberation and the martyrs that fell to make possible our dream of independence. We must never lose sight of this history and we must continue to honour their sacrifice and achievement.”

In the lead up to Thursday events have included a series of sporting events, memorial walks, night vigils and a ceremony remembering the “Declaration of Armed Insurgency”. This morning a conference on FALINTIL will be held at the Dili Convention Centre and in the afternoon a memorial Mass will be celebrated at 4:00pm at the Dili Cathedral.

The principal ceremony on FALINTIL Day will take place at Tasi Tolu beginning with a military parade at 8:30am. Eminent dignitaries of Timor-Leste will be joined by international guests including Australian veterans and officials along with representatives of veterans from g7+ countries including South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. Australian veterans have been invited in the context of an ongoing relationship of friendship and solidarity that has been examining ways to support veterans and memorialize the struggle and sacrifice of the people.

The President of the Republic, H.E. Taur Matan Ruak will speak at the ceremony in Tasi Tolu where there will be events marking the decoration, promotion and retirement of F-FDTL cadre, the presentation of commemorative plaques and a symbolic presentation of Special Identification Cards to Veterans involved for between 15 and 24 years of the struggle. Former Commander in Chief, H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, will be awarded the highest medal of Timor-Leste, the Order of the Guerrilla.

On Friday morning a final event will occur at the Archive and Museum of the Timorese Resistance when a ground breaking ceremony will be undertaken for the “Eternal Flame”, a memorial being developed as a poignant focal point honoring those lost in the struggle.

Spokesperson for the Sixth Constitutional Government, Minister of State Agio Pereira noted “we are forever grateful for the sacrifices and achievements of those that have gone before us. On FALINTIL day we look back to remember, to honor and to pay our respects. Then we look forward, more inspired to serve our country, to walk with dignity and work toward a peaceful and prosperous Timor-Leste, always conscious of what those who lost their lives for our freedom expect from us.” ENDS

17 August 2015

Members of Village Councils in Oecusse Municipality received training from JSMP on access to justice and women’s rights

ETLJB 17/8/2015 JSMP Press Release Oe-Cusse District 12 August 2015 -  Between 27 July and 07 August 2015 the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) conducted training for 47 participants, comprising 16 women and 31 men. The participants included village chiefs, sub-village chiefs, village elders, women’s representatives and representatives of the village administration support staff from the Sub-Districts of Pante Makassar, Nitibe, Pasabe and Oesilo.

The training in Costa Village started on 27 July 2015, and involved 16 members of village councils from the Villages of Lalisuk, Bobocase, Cunha, Naimeco, Costa, Lifau and Taiboco, comprising 6 women and 10 men. Meanwhile the representatives of Nipani Village were not present because they were attending other activities.

When opening the training the Sub-District Pante Makasar Representative, Gonzalo Eko, stated that this training for members of the village councils is really important because it can raise their awareness about the law. He added that this training can also help the members of the village councils to resolve problems in the community.

The training in Usitako Village, Nitibe Sub-District, started on 31 July 2015 and involved 16 members of village councils from the Villages of Ban-Afi, Lela-Ufe, Bene-Ufe, Suni-Ufe and Usitaco, comprising 3 women and 13 men. In this training the Village Chief organizer Julio Cael who was representing the Nitibe Sub-District Representative, thanked JSMP, Belun and International Counterparts for conducting the training in their village.

The training took place in Bobometo Village, Oesilu Sub-District on 05 August 2015 and also involved members of the village councils from Passabe Sub-District. The participants came from the Villages of Bobometo, Usi-Tasae, Usi-Taqueno and Malelat. Members of the village council from Abani Village did not take part in this training. 13 participants attended the training, comprising 8 males and 7 females.

The Village Chief organiser, who was representing the Oesilu Sub-District Representative, in the opening session of the training thanked JSMP and the other stakeholders who provided support for this program which is aimed at raising the understanding of members of the village councils about the law.

This training discussed human rights and the right to equality. The participants questioned the right to subsidies, slander (accusations about using magic), abandoned wives and children, the responsibility to provide alimony, inheritance, customary practices that benefit sons or the stronger recognition given to the rights of sons in the community.

The village elders admitted that the customs in the Villages of Nipani, Bobocase, Naimeco and Taiboco Pante Makasar Sub-District have always recognized the equal status of sons and daughters in the family. Therefore, even though they marry and move away, their parents still give land to daughters, which acknowledges their rights. The village elders from the Villages of Lalisuk, Cunha, Lifau and Costa testified that their customary marriage traditions pass on land inheritance rights to their daughters.

In addition, the participants also raised the issue of those women who are impregnated and then the fathers refused to acknowledge their children, so they requested for the government to set up a DNA test laboratory to ensure the recognition of children’s rights to alimony.

All of the questions and concerns that were raised in each training session were responded to in accordance with the training modules that had been previously prepared on women’s rights and the applicable law in Timor-Leste.

This training was carried out with the support of the BELUN Coordinators in the Municipalities of Liquica, Ermera and Oecusse. BELUN will continue to assist with the coordination of the next training sessions in Covalima and Baucau.

Previously, similar training was carried out in Liquica and Ermera and training is planned for Suai at the end of August 2015.

14 August 2015

H.E. Antonio da Conceicao sworn in as the Minister of State, Coordinator of Social Affairs and Minister of Education

ETLJB 14/8/2015 From the Government of East Timor Press Release of 10 August 2015 - Dili, Timor-Leste: H.E. Antonio da Conceicao sworn in as the Minister of State, Coordinator of Social
Affairs and Minister of Education.

Today the President of the Republic has sworn in H.E. Antonio da Conceicao to the post of Minister of State, Coordinator of Social Affairs and Minister of Education.

This post was held by national hero, H.E. Fernando La Sama de Araujo at the time of his passing earlier this year on the 2nd of June. His unexpected passing was a great loss for the Timorese people.

H.E. Antonio da Conceicao is an experienced Minister having held the role of Minister of Commerce,
Industry and Environment in the Fifth and Sixth Constitutional Governments beginning in 2012.

The Vice Minister of Commerce, Industry and Environment, H.E. Constancio da Conceicao Pinto has been elevated to the position of Minister and Filipus Nino Pereira has been appointed as Vice Minister of Commerce, Industry and Environment.

All three men were sworn into their roles this morning by the President of the Republic, H.E. Taur Matan Ruak at a ceremony conducted at the Presidential Palace. Last week the President indicated his acceptance of the proposal of Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Rui Maria de Araujo to make these appointments to respond to the vacancy created in the Government structure after the passing of H.E. Fernando La Sama de Araujo. 

Summary of the trial process at the Oecusse District Court May 2015

ETLJB 14/8/2015 JSMP Case Summary Oe-Cusse District Court May 2015 

Introduction

In May 2015 JSMP continued to monitor trials at the Oecusse District Court. This edition summarizes 33 of the 42 cases tried by the Oecusse District Court. JSMP was not able to monitor all of the cases because of other institutional commitments.

These 33 cases comprised 19 cases of simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence, 1 case of aggravated attempted murder characterized as domestic violence, 1 case of sexual abuse of a minor, 1 case of mistreatment of a spouse, 1 case of making threats and simple offences against physical integrity, 4 cases of simple offences against physical integrity, 5 cases of driving without a license and 1 case of property damage.

From these 33 cases, 30 have been resolved and 3 other cases are ongoing.

The information below outlines the cases observed:

1.            Crime of sexual abuse of a minor -  Case No. 16/krime/2015/TDO[1]

Composition of judges         : Panel
Judges                                  : João Ribeiro, Jumiaty Freitas and Fransisca Cabral
Public prosecutor                 : Ambrosio Rangel Freitas
Public Defender                   : Afonso Gomes Fatima
Conclusion                           : Sentenced to 20 years in prison

On 7 May 2015 the Oecusse District Court sentenced the defendant in a case of incest to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of committing the crime against his step-daughter who was aged 13 when the incidents occurred in 2013 and 2014 in Oecusse District.

The court found that the defendant committed sexual abuse against the victim in 2010, 2013 and 2014. These acts caused the victim to become pregnant and she gave birth.

Based on the evidence the court sentenced the defendant to 9 years in prison for the first count and 7 years for the other counts. In the end, the court accumulated the penalty and sentenced the defendant to 20 years in prison.

2.      Crime of mistreatment of a spouse -  Case No. 15/krime/2015/TDO

Composition of judges         : Panel
Judges                                  : João Ribeiro, Jumiaty Freitas and Fransisca Cabral
Public prosecutor                 : Ambrosio Rangel Freitas
Public Defender                   : Calisto Tout
Conclusion                           : Sentenced to 3 years in prison, suspended for 4 years.

On 7 May 2015 the Oecusse District Court conducted a hearing to announce its decision and sentenced the defendant AN  to 3 years in prison, suspended for 4 years after he was found guilty of committing the crime of mistreatment of a spouse. The incidents occurred in 2014 and previous years in Oecusse District.

The court found that on 10 September 2014 the defendant punched the victim three times in the head, dragged her to the ground and slapped the left cheek of the victim.

The court also found that previously, on an unspecified evening in 2012, the defendant slapped the victim once on her left cheek. Then on an unspecified date around 2013 the defendant twice slapped the victim on her left cheek and then in April 2014, the defendant slapped her on the right cheek.

Based on this evidence, the court sentenced the defendant AN to 3 years in prison, suspended for 4 years.

3.Crime of making threats and simple offences against physical integrity – Case No. 46/krime/2015/TDO

12 August 2015

Oe-Cusse District Court imposes an effective sentence of 6 months jail against defendant in case of domestic violence, as the defendant was still serving a suspended sentence

ETLJB 12/8/2015 Press Release Oe-Cusse District Court 5 August 2015 - On 31 July 2015 the Oecusse District Court sentenced the defendant TL to 6 months in prison after he was found guilty of committing maltreatment against his wife on 30 April 2015 in Oecusse District.


The effective jail term was imposed pursuant to Article 73.2 of the Penal Code because the defendant committed the aforementioned crime whilst serving a suspended sentence. In addition, the defendant automatically violated Article 72 of the Penal Code, and has to serve 1 year in prison which was the sentenced previously imposed.

JSMP welcomes this effective penalty of 6 months in prison because the defendant did not show remorse for his actions that had been dealt with previously by the court.

JSMP hopes that this decision can have a deterrent effect against the defendant and others to avoid committing violence against members of their families, because families are supposed to be a safe place for each member of the family.

“This decision is a positive development, as the court has strengthened the application of provisions in the Penal Code and has correctly imposed the sentence that was previously handed down by the court. This is very importante to send a message to the community that any person who does not adhere to the decision of the courts must be held accountable,” said the Acting Executive Director of JSMP, Casimiro dos Santos.

JSMP also believes that this decision can be a reference for other courts and should remove doubt about sentencing defendants when there is a need to impose an effective penalty of imprisonment against a defendant to ensure justice for a victim and to prevent repetition of the crime in the future.

Article 72 of the Penal Code states that:

“If, during the period that the prison sentence is suspended, the convict fails to perform the duties imposed or is tried and convicted of another crime, the court may, taking circumstances into account, amend the initially established suspended execution, alter the duties imposed or solemnly admonish the convict, according to circumstances of the case”.

Furthermore, Article 73 (2) of the Penal Code states that:

“Suspension shall always be revoked if, during its period of duration, the convict commits a crime of intent for which the same is punishable with an effective prison sentence”.

In this case, the public prosecutor alleged that on 30 April 2015 at approximately 08:30am, the defendant choked the victim, slapped her left and right cheeks twice and punched her twice on the shoulder. The victim felt pain so she took a piece of wood and struck the defendant once on the back. However, the defendant responded and kicked the victim on her side.

This case allegedly occurred because the victim wanted to find out if the defendant was planning to marry another woman. However, the defendant did not respond so the victim tore the defendant’s shirt and trousers when the defendant was getting ready to go to work.

The public prosecutor charged the defendant for violating Article 145 of the Penal Code as well as Articles 35 of the Law Against Domestic Violence.

During the trial the defendant admitted all of the facts listed in the indictment of the Public Prosecutor and testified that he regretted his actions. The defendant also testified that they have reconciled and they have 5 children.

In his final recommendations, the public prosecutor requested for the court to impose an effective term of imprisonment against the defendant because the defendant repeated his actions. The public prosecutor believed that an effective term of imprisonment was a way to prevent the defendant and others from committing such acts, and to get them to avoid domestic violence.

The public defender requested for the court to consider that the defendant committed the aforementioned acts because the defendant was acting in legitimate self defence when the victim tore his shirt and trousers. However, if the court had a different opinion, then he requested for the court to administer justice in accordance with the actions of the defendant.

Previously, in April and May 2014, the Oecusse District Court imposed two separate sentences of 6 months in prison and 1 year in prison in two separate cases involving domestic violence. More detailed information about these two cases is available on the JSMP website: www.jsmp.tl in Press Releases from April and May 2014.

The aforementioned hearing was presided over by judge João Ribeiro, the Public Prosecution Service was represented by Ambrosio Rangel Freitas and the defendant was represented by Afonso Fatima Gomes. The case was registered with the court as Case No. 134/krime/2015/TDO.

Suai District Court and Baucau District Court try and sentence defendants in cases of sexual abuse characterised as incest

ETLJB 12/8/2015 JSMP Press Release Suai and Baucau District Courts 5 August 2015 - On 31 July 2015 the Suai District Court sentenced a defendant to 17 years in prison in a case of rape after he was found guilty of raping his step-daughter who was 12 years old. Meanwhile, the Baucau District Court also sentenced a defendant to 18 years in prison after he was found guilty of raping his own daughter who was 18 years old.

“These decisions reflect the seriousness of the crimes committed because any crime involving a family member will have a massive impact on the victim and will often result in extremely serious psychological consequences. Adults are trusted by children, and are their protectors, but in cases like these they are the perpetrators who destroy the future of the victims,” said Casimiro dos Santos, Acting Director of JSMP.

JSMP hopes these decisions will educate the community to reject these crimes. JSMP has observed that crimes of incest are increasing in all locations and everyone should be concerned because every day children are victimised by adults who are supposed to protect them from all forms of violence.

In July 2015 there were at least 8 cases involving the sexual abuse of women and children and two of these cases involved incest. JSMP believes that everyone has to acknowledge this reality as a serious issue in our community.

The Suai District Court sentenced the defendant CdCM to 17 years in prison after the public prosecutor recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison. This case occurred on 13 April 2012 in Same.

The court proved all of the facts presented by the public prosecutor together with witness testimony and a medical report. However , the defendant rejected all of the charges and testified that he did not commit sexual abuse against the victim.

During the trial the victim testified that the defendant committed rape on six occasions; four times at home and twice in a plantation. These acts caused the victim to become pregnant and she gave birth to a baby girl.

The public prosecutor charged the defendant for violating Article 177 (2) of the Penal Code on the sexual abuse of a minor and Article 173 (a) on aggravation, as well as Article 35 (b) of the Law Against Domestic Violence because the victim was the step-daughter of the defendant.

Meanwhile, the Baucau District Court sentenced the defendant JS to 18 years in prison. This case allegedly occurred on 13 May 2014 in Baucau District.

The court proved that on 13 May 2015, at 1am, the defendant went into the victim’s room, and forced the victim to have sexual intercourse.

Then, approximately seven hours after the first incident, at 8am, the defendant again entered the victim’s room, threatened to punch the victim and committed sexual violence against the victim, when the victim was about to go to school.

The public prosecutor charged the defendant with violating Article 172 on rape, Article 173 of the Penal Code on aggravation, and Article 35 of the Law Against Domestic Violence.

During the examination of evidence the court found new evidence that the defendant had started groping the genitals of the victim since she was in grade 4 of primary school. For this reason, the court added Article 182.1 (d) of the Penal Code on aggravation because the victim was related to the defendant.

Based on this evidence, the court sentenced the defendant to 12 years in prison for each incident. The court accumulated the sentence to 18 years in prison.

JSMP has monitored cases of incest since 2012, and launched a report entitled: ‘Incest in Timor-Leste: An Unrecognized Crime.’ The aforementioned report discusses JSMP findings about limitations in the provisions of the Penal Code which do not provide sufficient protection to victims of incest.

JSMP has also produced a range of information on cases tried by the courts and has met with a wide range of authorities in relation to JSMP’s concerns about the increase in incest cases in all locations across Timor-Leste.

In each of these meetings the relevant authorities such as Committee A of the National Parliament, National Parliament’s Women’s Caucus (GMPTL), Coordinating Minister for Social Affairs, Minister of Justice, National Commission on the Rights of the Child, have all reacted positively to consider draft amendments to the Penal Code and the Law Against Domestic Violence to include specific articles on incest. However, until now there have been no positive signs relating to this issue.

In January 2015 JSMP and ALFeLa launched a report entitled: ‘Amending the Penal Code to better protect women and children’. The proposals in this report were submitted to the National Parliament and other relevant institutions.

In its proposal JSMP and ALFeLa recommended for the National Parliament and Minister of Justice to include a specific article in the Penal Code after Article 172 (rape). This article should criminalize all incestual relations without regard to the age and consent of the victim and shall cover relationships between uncles and nieces. This amendment should include proportional penalties for aggravated sexual assault against minors, and should explain that this article shall only be applied to those who exploit a familial relationship, to ensure that only defendants are charged.

07 August 2015

Nominations for Best Legal Blog Contest 2015

ETLJB 7/8/2015 Dear Readers - One of you kind people has nominated this blog, the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin for the Best Legal Blog Contest run by The Expert Institute (visit their site here: https://www.theexpertinstitute.com).

The more nominations a blog receives, the greater the chance of recognition as a good legal blog and even though I have stopped posting a few months ago, ETLJB continues to receive significant numbers of visitors, likes and followers.

If you would like to raise awareness of legal and political issues in East Timor (and possibly prompt me to start work again on ETLJB), may I ask you to consider nominating ETLJB? If you wish to do so, please visit:

https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/blog-contest/

Many thanks and best regards,


Warren L. Wright BA LLB
Publisher of ETLJB



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