13 October 2018

Sexual Assault of Minors, Incest and Infanticide in East Timor

Image: artemoris wlw2006
1. Introduction
The East Timorese law and justice civil society organisation, JSMP has published its Case Summary The Dili District Court July 2018. The report includes observations on the court proceedings in two cases of sexual assault against a minor; and one against a person unable to defend themselves.

Some particulars these three cases are extracted below.

2. Decision in the First Case
The court did not prove that the defendant used force or threats when he had sexual intercourse with the victim. Based on the victim's baptism certificate the court found that the victim was 14 years and 3 months old when the incident occurred. Therefore the court modified the charge from Article 172 and 173 of the Penal Code to sexual acts with an adolescent pursuant to Article 178 of the Penal Code.

The court considered that the defendant took advantage of the victim's inexperience when he had sexual intercourse with the victim. Based on this amended charge and the aforementioned considerations, the court sentenced the defendant to three years in prison, suspended for five years, and ordered the defendant to appear periodically at the court once a month for one year.

3. Decision in the Second Case
The court acquitted the defendant from the charges of the public prosecutor because it was not proven that the defendant had a romantic relationship with the victim and it was not proven that he had sexual intercourse with victim even though the victim was under the defendant's bed.

4. The Third Sexual Offence Abuse of Person Incapable of Resistance
I mention this case again because it is at least analogous to the sexual offences against minors. The court found that the defendant had sexual intercourse with the victim three times, even though the defendant knew that the victim had a physical disability to her hand and foot. In relation to the victim's baby, the court did not find that the baby was the defendant's child. Based on this evidence the court sentenced the defendant to 5 years in prison.

5. Incidence of Sexual Assault of Minors and Incest
JMSP has reported regularly on other such cases of the sexual assault of minors as well as researched the social problem of incest, that most likely involves minors. ETLJB has often sought to draw attention to the problems of infanticide and incest.

6. Reports of the Unlawful Disposal of Baby Corpses
In recent times, there have been two media reports of cases of the corpses of babies being found in garbage disposal areas. English versions of these reports are available at Timor Guide Post.

These cases all demonstrate the existence of a most grave social problem: the violation of the rights of the child at the highest level of opprobrium. Apart from the sexual abuse of minors that is extant across all societies, the incidence of the disposal of the corpses of babies onto garbage piles (and the possibility that there are others that have been consumed by animals or removed by garbage disposal without notice) must compel policy makers and law makers to pay serious attention, and for the whole society to examine its conscience and realise why this is happening, and how to stop it.

7. Brief ROCCIPI Analysis
There are several hypotheses that might be put forward as elucidations of this phenomena such as incest, rape including minors, restrictions by social and religious taboos that regulate both male and female sexuality, religious prohibitions on the use of birth control, the ideology of religious prohibitions on pre-marital sex and homosexuality, the social stigmatisation of a young mother and condemnation by the doctrines of the religious institutions or perhaps just lack of sufficient sex education.

It has to be noted in reference to religious ideology as the cause of problematical behaviour, these acts are in fundamental violation of the religious institutions teachings on the sanctity of life and the protection of children, which also happen to be expressed in the the civil law as well as theology and the catechism but also international conventions of the rights of the child.

8. The Role Occupants
The Role Occupants whose problematical behaviour is the primary cause of these events may be generally categorised as men with a particular sexual aberration and criminal disposition, including fathers and other male relatives, the family unit within which incest is often kept quiet, and the religious institutions. The interests of the victims are paramount. The religious institutions are also a key Role Occupant.

9. Implementing Agencies
The Implementing Agencies are the police, the public prosecutor, the Courts, the defence, and CSO's taking care of women in distress such as Pradet and relevant Ministers and Departments.

10. Short Conclusion
Whatever the cause, it needs to be discovered by research and prioritised by policy makers and the Nation’s Government institutions and Parliament. A thorough analysis using the ROCCIPI methodology would assist the formulation of policy, map the patterns of problematic behaviour and propose solutions.

11. Further resources

See further on East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin

Corpse of discarded baby in Dili partly eaten by dogs
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2013/05/corpse-of-discarded-baby-in-dili-partly.html

Dili District Court hands down a sentence of 20 years imprisonment in a case of incest “Girls live in danger and are unsafe in their own homes”
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2013/10/dili-district-court-hands-down-sentence.html

Police have identified female suspected of abandoning baby in Ailok Laran
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2011/01/police-have-identified-female-suspected.html

Suspended sentence in infanticide case in East Timor no deterrent
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2013/11/suspended-sentence-in-infanticide-case.html

Infanticide and baby abandonment in Timor-Leste difficult to prosecute due to lack of witnesses
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2014/07/infancticide-and-baby-abandonment-in.html

Dili District Court adjourns trial involving infanticide because the judge was dismissed by Parliamentary and Government Resolutions
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2014/12/dili-district-court-adjourns-trial.html

Incestuous paedophile father sentenced to 9.5 yrs. jail
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2012/12/incestuous-pedophile-father-sentenced.html

Dili District Court hears infanticide, assault, theft, property damage and illegal importing cases in May 2014
http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2014/08/dili-district-court-hears-infanticide.html

Julgamentu kazu abuzu seksual hasoru menor iha Tribunál Distritál Suai http://www.easttimorlawandjusticebulletin.com/2018/10/julgamentu-kazu-abuzu-seksual-hasoru.html

JSMP halo audiénsia ho Prezidente Tribunál Rekursu hodi aprezenta deskobrementu sira iha tribunál
https://www.facebook.com/notes/jsmp-timor-leste/jsmp-halo-audi%C3%A9nsia-ho-prezidente-tribun%C3%A1l-rekursu-hodi-aprezenta-deskobrementu-/1480454258764880/

Warren L. Wright

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