30 September 2008

East Timor Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice September 2008 Activity Update

Activity Update Association HAK (Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice) 30/09/2008 (Extract) - HAK hopes to increase information exchange about the current situation in Timor-Leste, especially regarding human rights and our work.

We are pleased to share news of our latest publications, and some our activities related to the National Parliament and in the security sector reform. We welcome your comments and look forward to future collaboration to increase respect for human rights in Timor-Leste.

Demonstration against National Parliament plan to buy luxury cars On 11 and 12 June 2008, university students (Timor-Leste University Front, FUTL) assembled 1500 to 2000 people for a peaceful demonstration in front of the National Parliament to protest the planned purchase of 65 luxury cars for members of parliament.

According to the students the actual situation the average person faces includes an inability to cope with rising prices; as representatives of the people, the members of parliament deny this reality and push to buy luxury cars for themselves.

From a moral perspective, they are insensitive to the people’s suffering. From a legal perspective, the budget existed to purchase 26 cars, one for each commission, at a total cost of $910,000; not to purchase 65 cars­one for each member of parliament for a total of two million dollars.

This meant an additional $1,090,000 in the mid-year budget ratification to secure sufficient funds. From an economic perspective, why not allocate the funds to meet people’s basic needs, especially in the current situation. From a social perspective, the deputies are creating a gap between themselves and the population, and developing a bad social culture for the future. They are creating the idea that becoming a Member of Parliament means getting a car. Because of all this the students demonstrated to stop them from buying these luxury cars.

Assocaition HAK was involved in the organization of the demonstration with both moral and material support, along with other national NGOs such as Fokupers, Haburas and the National Youth Commission of Timor-Leste (CNJTL).

FUTL planned a second, five-day demonstration from 7 to 11 July 2008 at the main National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) campus in Dili, as a continuation of the 11-12 June protests. However when FUTL and another student group, FOKUTIL, submitted a letter to the Dili District Police requesting authorization for the demonstration, they were denied use of the main UNTL campus citing Law No. 01/2006.

The law prohibits demonstrations less than one hundred metres from public buildings. Consequently, the Timor-Leste National Police and UN Police (UNPOL) authorized the demonstrators to use the Democracy Field. The organizers did not accept the change in venue, and taking advantage of the campus’ autonomy, demonstrated from the main UNTL campus again expressing their demands that parliament cancel its plans to buy an additional 39 luxury cars to have one to distribute to each Member of Parliament.

The demonstration, a peaceful, silent action with mouths taped closed and fasting could not be realized due to police intervention during which 51 students were detained when they taped their mouths closed and stood silently with a banner on the balcony of the national university’s main campus, only about 25 metres from the national parliament building. During the activity University property was damaged­glass from windows and doors broken. According to HAK, some of the damage was done by the university students themselves and some glass was broken when the police shot tear gas at the students.

The 51 arrested university students were investigated, while in police detension for seventy two hours, and then had a preliminary hearing at the Dili District Court. All the students were represented by attorneys during this process, Natercia de Deus Bárbosa from HAK Association and Wilson Cabral acting in his professional capacity. The final result of the hearing was that the Dili District Court released all 51 on their own recognizance (identities and residence­TIR).

Reform of Timor-Leste National Police

Since January 2008 HAK Association has represented Timor-Leste’s civil society and national NGOs, as a nomine of the Prime Minister, on the panel evaluating the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL).

Aniceto Guro Berteni Neves is HAK’s representative; his role member-observer. From January until June the panel, established by government resolution 22/2008, evaluated and made recommendations regarding 1430 police.

They recommended 1196 PNTL members for re-training and recertification. 234 PNTL members were given pending status due to allegations of involvement in criminal activity against them. Some of the allegations stem from early in their police careers and some relate to their involvement in the 2006 crisis.

The allegations are based on data from PNTL, UNPOL, the Provedor for Human Rights (PDHJ), Prosecutor-General, United Nations Human Rights Unit and the Transitional Justice Office of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). There are also complaints and reports from civil society organizations, including HAK itself, and from the general public. The national evaluation panel is composed of representatives chosen by the President of Timor-Leste, Prosecutor-General, UNMIT Human Rights Unit, UNMIT Transitional Justice Office, the Catholic Church, and UNPOL itself.

For more information please contact: Antonio Maria Soares at direito@yayasanhak.minihub.org
Jill SternbergAssociation HAK (Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice)Rua Governador Serpa Rosa T-091, Farol, Dili, Timor-LesteTel. +670-331-3323 or +670-740-2774 mobileEmail: jillberg@igc.org skype: jillberg

29 September 2008

East Timor: Land and Biofuel

Timor, Land, and Biofuel - Tim Anderson Tim Anderson, lecturer in Political Economy at Sydney University has researched land tenure and ownership in the South Pacific, Latin America, and more recently, East Timor.

He recently published a report about the implications of an Indonesian Biofuel project the AMP government signed onto recently.

He cites pressures on the government of East Timor recently, to change the Constitution allowing foreigners to buy and sell land in East Timor.

Some of Timor's political leaders appear to be wavering in their original intent to keep Timorese soil in Timorese hands.

And is it just coincidence that USAID and AUSAID have recently launched a US$500,000 project to establish who owns what land in East Timor?

Traditional communal ownership of land could suffer in the growing push for privatisation.

See further: Community Rights to Customary Land in East Timor post on ETLJB which includes links to other posts about the land issue in East Timor.

East Timor - Justice For All?

Written by Jesse Wright The National Monday 29 September 2008 - As parliament debates its first penal code, one East Timorese official is pushing for village justice Since the dawn of time justice in East Timor has been measured in water buffalo. Generally a goat theft costs one buffalo and a rape is worth two, although it varies from town to town.

Though traditional justice was never institutionalized, it has remained an underpinning of village life here. Before Indonesia’s 1975 invasion Timor was a Portuguese colony and for 400 years whatever went on outside the capital Dili was ignored. During the occupation courts were notorious for their corrupt judges whose decisions were not respected. When the Indonesians were ousted in late 1999 there was a lot of hope for improvement.

But though independence came in 2002—following two years of United Nations interim rule—East Timor is still struggling to create a set of comprehensive laws. Talk to any legal aid group in this tiny Asian nation and they’ll tell you the best hope is a judicial system including formal justice with trained judges and lawyers. According to the constitution, everyone has the right to a fair trial and an attorney and innocence is presumed until proven otherwise. There’s no mention of water buffalo.

But even as the legislature moves to finalize the nation’s first penal code this month, a minor government official is on a crusade to formalize terra bandu. Usually terra bandu is traditional law used to protect natural resources, but the state secretary for the environment says it can do more.

State Secretary Abilio Lima has already convinced about one third of the nation’s one million people that everything from cattle rustling to rape are crimes best resolved outside courtrooms by water buffalo justice.

To those who know him Lima is an odd character to push for justice. In 1999, the year of Timor’s bloody break from Indonesia, Lima stood firmly with Indonesia as a member of the FPDK, an Indonesian umbrella group which gave money and support to some of the most notorious and bloodthirsty pro-Indonesian gangs. The FPDK is responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Timorese.

Now as state secretary of the environment he believes he has been tasked to look after the natural environment as well as the home environment of his countrymen.

“I think the environment has a relationship with sexuality,” he said. “When you talk about environment, you talk about human environment, about the social environment. I focus on the total comprehensive environment.”

In the last year Lima says his office has approved a terra bandu system in about half the districts in East Timor. Last week he was in Tulatakeo, a village a few hours south of Dili. He was the government representative in a ceremony which marked the acceptance of traditional justice. Now the village chief can treat serious crimes according to local whim.

“The advantage of terra bandu is that it comes from the community,” Lima said. “Because it comes from the community, they have a responsibility to it.”

According to Lima, the problem is the penal code. Six years of independence and East Timor is still without its own set of laws, relying instead on Indonesian laws last updated in 1999.
“People who don't like Indonesia don't respect the laws,” Lima said. “So we will use traditional law until we can agree on a national law.”

Judicial authorities here are shocked.

“If the secretary of state for the environment is doing this, he is very wrong,” said Fernanda Borges, a member of parliament who sits on the judicial oversight committee. “He’s very wrong because he is operating outside the constitution and outside the judicial system.” Borges has said she will launch a parliamentary enquiry into the matter.

But officials in the justice ministry say they are not concerned with Lima. Although no one in the ministry of justice had heard about Lima’s push for terra bandu, the permanent secretary for the minister said he supported parts of the plan.

“Rape is a crime you can’t resolve through terra bandu,” Crisagno Neto said. “You have to take that to court.” But he added that smaller crimes like minor domestic violence could be resolved using traditional justice. This directly contradicts the Indonesian penal code—which Timor follows.

“Domestic violence is a crime at whatever level,” said Mitch Dufrense, head of the United Nations Justice Support Unit in Timor. “The severity of the specified level is something for the court to decide.”

But women’s rights groups here say community police often tell victims to take their problems to the village elders. According to a lawyer at a local NGO, the police usually won’t get involved in domestic violence or rape cases unless the village chief cannot resolve the problem.

Besides, the permanent secretary for the justice ministry says the courts in Timor are not for everyone.

“Terra bandu is easier and faster [than court trials] in rural areas for people who have no money,” Neto said. “But in cities and in areas where people have money, they can’t use terra bandu. They need to go to court.”

But East Timor is one of the most impoverished nations in Asia where unemployment is around 60 per cent and the average income is about a dollar a day. Most Timorese don’t live in cities and spend their days farming or hunting for food. Under Neto’s criteria almost no one should go to court.

And as it stands today virtually no one does.

In a country where it is estimated that about half of all women will suffer gender based crimes this year, officially closing the door on formal justice has serious consequences. According to the local United Nations office, only 132 women have come forward so far this year to report gender based violence to the police—a far cry from the estimated 250,000 victims.

Instead of a courtroom, many of these women are being dealt with in mean thatched huts. Instead of judges, these women will visit elderly village leaders like Florindo Mesquita Lorego.
Lorego is a balding, snowy bearded village chief in a hamlet hours away from the capitol. He, along with a dozen other village leaders, decides terra bandu cases.

“[Terra bandu] applies to people who are thieves, horse thieves, cattle rustlers, and rapists,” Lorego explained. “People who go into someone's garden without permission from the owner, that's a crime.”

He said rape is not a big problem in his community, but it happens.

“Rape is resolved with two cows and you close the woman's wound,” Lorego said. In Timor when you close the wound you make the problem better—and the problem with rape is the family name. The two cows (as well as the occasional goat or pig) are given to the victim’s family. Often one of the animals is killed, cooked and then the rapist and the men from the victim’s family eat and drink palm wine together. The woman is not involved in the resolution. For her part, all the victim is expected to do is tell Lorego what happened.

Lorego has lived all his life according to these values and now that he has government approval to dole out village justice, he is happy to oblige.

East Timor Graduate Summer School Australian National University

Asia Pacific Week 2009 and East Timor Graduate Summer School


Asia Pacific Week

Asia-Pacific Week is a conference and summer school that brings together hundreds of PhD candidates from Australia and overseas to workshop projects, benefit from master classes and form networks committed to understanding the world's most dynamic region.Since its inception in 2004, Asia-Pacific Week has become a signature event for postgraduates in Australia and for scholars of the region. In 2008, 200 doctoral candidates took part, along with three dozen senior scholars.Asia Pacific Week is a container for a number of “Graduate Summer Schools” focusing on different areas of the Asia-Pacific region (the Pacific Islands, China, Japan, Indonesia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia and East Timor).

During a week of activities, graduate students have a chance to present their research interests, meet other students and academics, participate in a wide range of training activities, be introduced to the rich holdings on Asia and the Pacific at the ANU Library and the National Library of Australia and participate in a stimulating program of events including cross-area workshops, keynote speeches, seminars and master classes, film screenings, cultural performances and social events.

More information at http://rspas.anu.edu.au/asiapacificweek/index.php

East Timor Graduate Summer School

The East Timor Studies Graduate Summer School and conference is a week of workshops and research activities designed to bring together young scholars who are working on East Timor. The Summer School is held at the campus of The Australian National University in Canberra, and is open to participants from within and outside Australia.

The program is still provisional at this stage. If you wish to take part you should let the program convenor know as soon as possible. The program will showcase the work of young East Timor scholars in a formal setting and will include seminars, roundtable discussions, guest lectures as well as library visits and cultural events. The program also aims to provide students with an opportunity to use the rich resources held at the ANU library and the National Library of Australia. The East Timor Studies Graduate Summer School is open to postgraduate students currently enrolled in any tertiary institution inside or outside Australia who have not already attended a previous Asia Pacific Week. Recently completed post-doctoral students and Honours students may also be considered. Several provisional themes for guest lectures have been proposed, and participants will be expected to make presentations on their own research interests.

Provisional discussion topics for guest lectures are:

agricultural development
justice / legal system
oil and gas reserves
cultural heritage

Roundtable discussions on the following topics may be held: Future directions for East Timor research Challenges for fieldwork in East Timor

ANU Asia Pacific Week
The Summer School will take place as part of the University's Asia Pacific Week. This is designed to provide a forum for building networks among postgraduate scholars through exchange of knowledge and experiences around the study of the Asia Pacific region.

The 2008 East Timor Summer School is to be held in conjunction with summer schools in China Studies, Indonesian Studies, Japan Studies, and South Asia Studies. The Asia-Pacific week will feature special events such as keynote speeches, films, performances and exhibitions. Participants in the East Timor sessions will interact with participants from other summer schools in combined social functions and there will also be an opportunity for discipline-based groups from across the range of Asian Studies to meet.

The cost of accommodation (single room plus three meals per day) is provided for participants. Participants in Asia-Pacific Week 2009 will be accommodated at John XXIII on the ANU campus.

Participants are strongly encouraged to seek funding for travel expenses from their own institutions. There may be some contribution towards domestic travel costs for participants presenting their research.

Applicants are required to complete the online application form. Applications close on 3 October 2008. Applicants will be advised about the success of their applications in early November.

Contact details
For further information contact the East Timor program convenor: Dr Andrew McWilliam Department of Anthropology Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies The Australian National University Canberra ACT 0200 AUSTRALIA Email: andrew.mcwilliam@anu.edu.au

East Timor signs Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

26 September 2008 Final day of UN event sparks endorsement of 11 treaties – On the final day of the United Nations treaty event to promote universal participation and implementation of multilateral pacts, six Member States undertook nine treaty actions by signing or ratifying separate conventions, agreements, treaties and optional protocols.

Following Uganda’s lead from yesterday, Austria ratified both the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet personally ratified a second optional protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at eliminating the death penalty.

Timor-Leste’s President, José Ramos-Horta, similarly took part in the event, signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The Bahamas actively endorsed four treaties, ratifying the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and three additional protocols concerning human trafficking and the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.Small island nation Kiribati followed Burundi’s example and ratified the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

In total 30 States took 57 actions during this year’s treaty event, the tenth in the series held on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s General Debate at UN Headquarters.As 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year’s event – which began on 23 September – centred on the theme “Universal Participation and Implementation – Dignity and Justice for All of Us.”

28 September 2008

UNHCR East Timor Human Rights Training Expert Position

Training Expert United Nations

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Closing date: 05 Oct 2008

Location: Timor-Leste - Dili

In April 2006, soldiers from the Timorese army, known as the F-FDTL, protested against alleged discrimination against members of the armed forces originating from the west. This served as a starting point for a violent crisis that highlighted an east-west divide in Timorese society. However, what happened was also about how an ex-guerrilla force undergoes a transformation from war to peace and how the PNTL, Timor Leste’s young police force, can be built from scratch.

Accountable security forces founded on international human rights standards is a key requirement for the development of Timor Leste into a prosperous and democratic state. Within the framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) signed with the Government of Timor Leste in 2007 OHCHR/UNMIT Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section (HRTJS) is in the process of recruiting a consultant to support training programme efforts aiming to build the capacity of the security forces to respect and protect human rights.

The ideal candidate should have extensive experience in the design and implementation of human rights training programmes for police and/or armed forces, preferably in a post-conflict/UN peace-keeping context.

She/he should have excellent research and drafting skills in English, as well as knowledge and previous experience of the Timor-Leste situation. Knowledge of Portuguese, Bahasa or Tetun would be valuable.

The candidate should be prepared to spend 25 working days plus weekends inside Timor Leste to conduct research and write a report containing her/his findings and recommendations with regard to human rights training programmes for PNTL and F-FDTL.

BackgroundBeginning in April 2006, Timor Leste experienced a serious crisis after soldiers in the Timor Leste Defence Force, F-FDTL (Falantil- Forcas de Defesa de Timor Leste), protested against alleged discrimination against members of the armed forces originating from the west. The allegations were not new but were made in an atmosphere poisoned by political manipulation that caused the Timor Leste National Police, PNTL (Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste) and F-FDTL to be divided internally and against each other.

The east-west divide were transferred to the streets of Dili where wide-scale violence erupted. F-FDTL and PNTL were at the centre of the complex crisis which was also about how F-FDTL is undergoing a difficult transformation from a guerrilla movement to a modern defence force, and how PNTL is being built from scratch.

Accountable security forces founded on international human rights standards is a key requirement for the development of Timor Leste into a prosperous and democratic state. On 11 February 2008 the stability of the state was again threatened when an armed group led by fugitive Alfredo Reinado, a former F-FDTL member carried out attacks against the President and the Prime Minister resulting in the nearly fatal injury of the President and the death of Reinado. Fortunately, the Government and other actors took its responsibility and were able to avoid a breakdown in law and order.

However, following the attacks there was a significant increase in the number of allegations of human rights violations by members of PNTL and F-FDTL. This negative trend further demonstrated the importance of building a culture of human rights and respect for the rule of law within the police and the army. Both PNTL and F-FDTL are new institutions that began to be formed during the mandate of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) from 1999 to 2002. In the area of human rights, PNTL has benefited from a number of human rights initiatives implemented by the different UN missions as well as bilateral actors. F-FDTL, on the other hand, have been exposed to human rights training only recently with a first course organised by UNMIT HRTJS in July 2007.

The top leadership of the country has on numerous occasions expressed their commitment to improving the human rights record of PNTL and F-FDTL and to ensure accountability for misconduct. Recently, the Government has called for a more structured approach to the human rights training provided to the security forces. In view of this, it is essential to undertake a stock-tacking of the wide range of human rights training activities undertaken until date for the police and the army. In particular with regard to PNTL a comprehensive overview of relevant initiatives is needed.

The same is true in relation to F-FDTL albeit to a lesser extent.

A better understanding of the past experiences can form the basis for recommendations for more effective human rights training programmes for the security forces. The training consultant will play a key role in this important exercise.

Duties and responsibilities- Undertake a research study to map and analyse human rights training initiatives undertaken by different actors for PNTL and F-FDTL from 1999-2008.

Produce a report based on the study outlining findings and concrete recommendations to relevant stakeholders on how to enhance the effectiveness of the human rights training efforts for PNTL and F-FDTL. The report should outline a suggested plan for PNTL and F-FDTL training programmes for the period 2009-2010.

Provide advice as appropriate to UNMIT HRTJS in relation to its training activities for the security sector in Timor Leste.

Qualifications, Experience and Skills Required:-

Advanced university degree, preferably in law, political science, international relations or other discipline related to human rights.
- Extensive experience in the design of training programmes, preferably on human rights, for security forces in an international setting.
- Excellent research and drafting skills.
- Ability to work in a consultative and collaborative manner.
- Demonstrated ability to communicate complex ideas and concept in a simple manner.
- Necessary personal qualities: flexibility, patience, and excellent listening skills.
- Fluency in English.


Experience from or knowledge of Timor Leste.

- UN work experience, preferably in the area of human rights.
- Tetun, Portuguese or Indonesian language skills.

Conditions of service and remunerationThe consultant will be based in Dili (Timor Leste) in the premises of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) for a maximum period of 25 working days.

At the end of this period, she/he must have produced a report with findings and recommendations. Travel expenses plus a generous remuneration package will be provided. How to applyShould you be interested please forward your CV, preferably by a UN personal history form (P-11, available e.g. on http://www.ohchr.org/) and brief cover letter to the attention of Ms. Teri Ann Bryans (bryans@un.org) copied to Mr. Joacim Carlson (carlsonj@un.org) before 5 October 2008.Please indicate in the subject of your e-mail the reference: “TCP-funded Training

ExpertReference Code: RW_7JT56R-87

Simu Malu: Finding Peace in East Timor

ETLJB Editor Note: This item is being posted notwithstanding that it dates back to 2007 (apparently) to promote the work of CRS in peace building in East Timor and also because it includes a report on traditional law - tara bandu - which has been the subject of recent press reports and posts on ETLJB.

Water buffalo justice reigns in East Timor
Custom and conflict:The uses and limitations of traditional systems in addressing rural land disputes in East Timor
East Timor mulls traditional justice
Community Rights to Customary Land in East Timor

From Catholic Relief Services - A market that used to sell rice and tropical fruit is now a beaten expanse of dirt and burnt remains. The road that children used to walk to church and school is now the setting for battles between youth. A city that used to be populated with just "other Timorese" now consists of West Timorese and East Timorese.

Sebastiao Ximenes, the village leader of Moris Foun, works to create a peaceful community where his neighbors can feel safe.

And Sebastiao Ximenes, who used to be leader of a whole community, now struggles to bring families home to Moris Foun again.

Moris Foun is one neighborhood in Dili, the capital city of East Timor, where civil unrest has driven thousands of the 167,000 residents to seek safety in makeshift camps in schools, parks, convents and empty buildings. Churches are again a place of sanctuary. It has been over a year since accusations of discrimination in the military set off a wave of violence in East Timor, and Dili still doesn't know when the arson, looting and violent clashes between gangs of youth will end.

In a place where chaos can descend at any moment, Sebastiao and CRS are trying to bring simu malu — that is, mutual understanding — and with it, peace.

A Vision of Peace

As a first step, CRS' Simu Malu project team carried out a Vision of Peace workshop where Sebastiao and other determined community members imagined what peace would look like in Moris Foun. Then, they put their plans into action — with events like a CRS-sponsored soccer tournament.

In preparation for the tournament, youth from conflicting communities came together to paint peace-themed murals on the walls around town. These new friends were joined on the day of the opening game by government officials, leaders from other nearby neighborhoods, CRS East Timor's country director Jason Belanger, and at least 200 local citizens.

Among them was a village elder, who, with his son, had left a camp for people displaced by violence for the first time in five months. The elder was warmly welcomed and hugged, and spoke to the crowd before the first game of the monthlong event began.

From Trauma to Healing

"Those who did not leave were attacked," remembers Judit, a Moris Foun resident who now works for CRS. "Given the circumstances, I felt I must leave." So she packed her things and sought safety in a camp. CRS runs five camps in Dili for as many as 8,000 displaced people and provides support for several more camps.

Back in February, many people were fleeing Moris Foun and the nearby neighborhood known as 30th of August because of confrontations between local youth and residents from other villages, says Judit.

Renewed violence swelled the population of the closest camp from 775 people to over 1,700. CRS provided tarpaulins and bamboo to build temporary shelters and contributed critical funding for food. Until it was safe outside the camp, a CRS health promotion team kept conditions safe inside the camp with activities for children that focused on improving hygiene and hand-washing.

Despite the Pacific blue of the waters that edge the city, most citizens are too familiar with fear and violence. They have already lived through the abuses of an Indonesian occupation and the war that won their independence.

But Sebastiao says that the activities first imagined at the Vision of Peace workshop have managed to bring a sense of trust and security to Moris Foun, and that hundreds of families have begun to return. "CRS has provided support which has allowed the community to heal from the trauma of the recent crisis," he says.

Bringing Them Home

In fact, just a month after the surge in violence, over 600 people felt safe enough to leave the overpopulated camp because Sebastiao and the community leader of 30th of August — named for the date in 1999 that East Timorese voted for independence from neighboring Indonesia — had taken a vow of peace.

The vow was made with CRS support in a public ceremony known as the Tara Bandu. Residents gathered at the sacred house to hear an elder read the terms of the agreement — no more blades used in fighting, no more destruction of property, no more killing. The elder slaughtered a cow as a sacrifice. Then Sebastiao and 30th of August's leader shook hands and signed an accord.

The law of the Tara Bandu is not lightly broken. Anyone who breaks the Tara Bandu must pay the sacred house an amount equal to the value of the sacrifice. If the guilty do not pay, they either enter the judicial system or are punished by the sacred house.

"With the Tara Bandu … people finally felt free to return home, children were able to resume school and small businesses reopened," says Judit.

Despite this progress, simu malu still has further to spread. Citizens fear that when they go back to Moris Foun they may just have to leave again. Until everyone returns, Sebastiao says, "I will go back to my people and try to figure out how to bring them home."

Our Work in East Timor

CRS East Timor started as a division of CRS Indonesia in 1979. It became an independent country program in June 2000 to better respond to the devastation of East Timor's struggle for independence from Indonesia. In addition to food and agricultural assistance, CRS East Timor runs microfinance, peace and reconciliation, and civil-society programs. CRS East Timor works closely with local nonprofits and promotes active participation of Timorese citizens to address injustices in their lives.

Water buffalo justice reigns in East Timor

Earth Times Online 28/09/2008 Dili - Justice in East Timor has traditionally been measured out in water buffaloes. A goat theft costs one buffalo and a rape of a woman is worth two, although it varies from village to village. While it has never been institutionalized, the traditional way of meting out justice has remained an underpinning of village life on the impoverished half-island, even under 400 years of Portuguese rule.

After Indonesia's 1975 invasion, courts were established but not respected because of a corrupt system and judges. Since 2002 and following two years of United Nations interim rule, East Timor has been independent and eager to abandon the Indonesian system and adopt its own judicial system.

Legal aid groups said the best hope for East Timor is a formal judicial system with trained judges and lawyers. According to the country's constitution, everyone has the right to a fair trial and an attorney, and innocence is presumed until proven otherwise. There is no mention of water buffalo in the constitution.

But even as the National Parliament moves to finalize the nation's first penal code this month, a minor government official is on a crusade to formalize tara bandu - traditional law Timorese have used to preserve natural resources and regulate other matters of daily life.

Secretary of State for the Environment Abilio Lima has already persuaded about a third of the nation's 1 million people that everything from cattle rustling to rape are crimes best resolved outside courtrooms by water buffalo justice.

Last week, Lima was in Tulatakeo, a village a few hours south of the capital, Dili, as the government representative in a ceremony to mark the acceptance of traditional justice. Now, the village chief has the authority to treat serious crimes according to local whim.

"The advantage of tara bandu is that it comes from the community," Lima said. "Because it comes from the community, they have a responsibility to it."

According to Lima, the problem with East Timor's penal code is that it relies on Indonesian laws and was last updated in 1999, three years before the country gained independence.

"People who don't like Indonesia don't respect the laws," Lima said, "so we will use traditional law until we can agree on a national law."

Many judicial authorities in Dili said they were shocked at the moves by Lima, who has no legal authority to impose tara bandu or any system of justice.

"He's very wrong because he is operating outside the constitution and outside the judicial system," said Fernanda Borges, a member of Parliament who sits on its judicial oversight committee.

Borges said she would launch a parliamentary inquiry into the matter. However, some officials in the Justice Ministry seemed unconcerned with Lima's actions.

Although not informed about the environmental secretary's push for terra bandu, the permanent secretary for the minister of justice said he supported parts of the plan.

"Rape is a crime you can't resolve through tara bandu," Crisagno Neto said. "You have to take that to court."

However, Neto said smaller crimes like minor domestic violence could be resolved using traditional justice, a statement that contradicts East Timor's penal code.

"Domestic violence is a crime at whatever level," said Mitch Dufrense, head of the UN Justice Support Unit in East Timor. "The severity of the specified level is something for the court to decide."

Yet Neto said the courts in East Timor are not for everyone.

"Tara bandu is easier and faster in rural areas for people who have no money," Neto said, "but in cities and in areas where people have money, they can't use tara bandu. They need to go to court."

In East Timor, where unemployment hangs around 60 per cent and the average income is about a dollar a day, the majority of the population lives where they can farm and hunt for food. Under Neto's criteria, almost no one should go to court, and, as it stands today, virtually no one does.

The United Nations estimated that about half of all women in East Timor would be the victims this year of gender-based crimes, yet according to the local UN office, 132 of the estimated 250,000 victims have come forward to report such offenses to police. Instead of a courtroom and a judge, these women could visit the thatched hut of a village elder.

One such elder is Florindo Mesquita Lorego, a balding, snowy-bearded village chief in a hamlet hours away from Dili who, along with a dozen other village leaders, decides tara bandu cases.

"(Tara bandu) applies to people who are thieves, horse thieves, cattle rustlers and rapists," Lorego explained. "People who go into someone's garden without permission from the owner, that's a crime."

He said rape is not a big problem in his community, but it happens. "Rape is resolved with two cows, and you close the woman's wound," Lorego said.

Closing the wound means the perpetrator makes the problem better, and the problem with rape is damage to the family name. The two cows, as well as the occasional goat or pig, are given to the victim's family. Often one of the animals is killed, cooked and then the rapist and the men from the victim's family eat and drink palm wine together.

The woman is not involved, except to report what happened. The secretary of state for the environment has put his stamp of approval on such a system for about half the districts in East Timor and said he sees his portfolio as reaching far beyond ecology.

"I think the environment has a relationship with sexuality," Lima said. "When you talk about environment, you talk about the human environment, about the social environment. I focus on the total comprehensive environment."

27 September 2008

Custom and conflict:The uses and limitations of traditional systems in addressing rural land disputes in East Timor

A discussion paper prepared for a regional workshop on “Land Policy and Administration for Pro-Poor Rural Growth” Dili December 2003

By Laura S. Meitzner Yoder Ph D

With research assistance from Calisto Colo, Zacarias F. da Costa, and Francisco Soares

Published on East Timor Law Journal on 27 September 2008


A dynamic background of customary land ownership and recent migrations, overlaid with successive political transitions, are behind many land conflicts in the new nation of East Timor. Some of the forms of land claims and authorities in regions which have experienced migration or formal land schemes replicate customary patterns.

Almost all rural land disputes in East Timor are taken first to traditional leaders and village-level government, and handled by outside authorities only when these mechanisms do not reach settlement. Rural people have a clear preference to settle land cases at the lowest level possible, due to proximity to physical evidence and local expertise in circumstances surrounding the case.

Disputants take their cases to traditional authorities, who hear testimony from disputants and witnesses, consider evidence, observe the disputed land, facilitate and legitimize decisions, and oversee a reconciliation ceremony if the case is resolved. Methods of settlement range from arbitration to mediation.

Cases involving parties from different villages, conflicting customary claims, political differences, and the private sector are frequently deferred or taken to outside authorities, including the Directorate of Land and Property or courts.

Even in conflicts surrounding titled land, abandoned properties, migration, state claims, and government administrative boundaries that require state involvement, traditional and village leaders often participate at all levels of settlement as witnesses and counselors.

Many traditional authorities and government officials are expectant that future land laws will clarify decision-making authority in intractable land disputes and will assist them in settling rural land disputes.

Click on the following link to read this article.

Custom and conflict: The uses and limitations of traditional systems in addressing rural land disputes in East Timor

Image: East Timorese men in traditional attire (tais mane).

Land Rights in East Timor - Policy Analysis and Draft Law

ETLJ 27/09/2008 - The following reports are the legislative drafting for democratic social transformation analyses of the social problem of land rights in East Timor together with draft legislation produced by Civil Society Working Group A (Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Guarantees and Liberties) in the University of San Francisco School of Law Legislative Drafting Initiative in East Timor conducted in Dili during 2003-2004.

These reports and draft legislation are published on the East Timor Law Journal (ETLJ) in English, Indonesian and Portuguese (except a Portuguese translation of the draft land rights law) and may be read by clicking on the following links that will open word documents from ETLJ.

Analysis of the Social Problem of Land Rights Draft Land Rights Act

Analisis tentang Hak Atas Tanah Rancangan Undang Undang ttg Hak Atas Tanah

Direitos a Terra

Legal Reports Summaries National Media 26 September 2008

East Timor approves UN Convention against corruption - Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 September 2008
East Timor's Council of Ministers approved the United Nations Conventions Against Corruption Wednesday (24/9), paving the way for the establishment of an anti-corruption commission.

Parliament holds public audience on law for witness protection - Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 September 2008
Parliamentary Committee A for Constitutions, Justice and Public Administration yesterday held a public audience with civil society, Timorese Legal Advisor Association and Public Prosecution analyzing about law for the protection of witness in the court trial.

Public Prosecution to submit report on police missing money - Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 September 2008
Prosecutor General, Longinhos Monteiro, said the Public Prosecution would submit report on Timorese National Police's money went missing during the Joint Operation for manhunt for the rebels was held.

Government extends mandate of task force for TT Company Radio - Televisaun Timor Leste , 26 September 2008
The Government has made decision to extend mandate of Task Force team to another six months for negotiating Timor Telecom Company (TT) allowing other companies to invest in the country.

Around 50.000 followers to take part in FRETILIN's Peace March - Suara Timor Loro Sae 26 September 2008
Secretary General of the FRETILIN party Mari Alkatiri said Thursday (25/9) that the party would mobilize more than 50.000 people for its peace march to show the world that FRETILIN did not recognize the legitimacy of the AMP.

NGO takes on women's rights

DILI, 26 September 2008 (IRIN) - As a girl, Laura Pina was not expected to slave in the kitchen simply by virtue of her gender. Then she got married.

Pina was shocked when she went to visit her in-laws for the first time. "They thought women had to serve the husband's family," she said.

"They thought I had to stay and cook in the kitchen for all the ceremonies. They expected me to stay in the kitchen all day and then eat last because that was their custom - even if we sometimes ate in the middle of the night."

Pina could not agree to such traditional behaviour. Her parents were teachers and they had always encouraged her to get an education and be independent.
When she saw how Timorese women were treated as second-class citizens, she decided to do something about it. She started by arguing with her mother-in-law. Read more...

East Timor Women - Raising awareness of the plight of women in East Timor

26 September 2008

East Timor Parliament Extraordinary Plenary Meeting 25 September 2008

Automated translation. Not an official translation. Original Portuguese text follows.

Office of Public Relations
Agenda No. 132/II

Extraordinary Plenary Meeting ofThursday, 25 September 2008

As part of today's morning was not the Extraordinary Plenary Session of Thursday, 25 September 2008 by reason of a lack of a quorum. A public hearing was held by Deputies of the Commission and the institutions of JSMP, ATTL, Advocate Sans Frontieres, Post CAVR, UNMIT Human Rights, with the theme of witness protection.

In this matter the PDHJ only sent its report of opinion and PGR did not participate. The Commission B also held a public hearing with the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RDTL, National Directorate of Trade and Industry on the treaty "approving the International Coffee Agreement."

In the afternoon there was also cancellation of today's meeting because of lack of a quorum. The second Vice-President of the National Parliament, Sra. Deputada Maria Paixao apologized to Mr. Freitas Cancio Minister of Education, Mr. Deputy Minister of Education Paulo Assis adviser and as drafters of the bill in 8/II (Law of Basic Education).

Finally Sra. Deputada Maria Paixao Chairman of the Board informed that tomorrow September 26, 2008, at 09:00 there will be meeting the leaders of the benches and at 10:00 there Extraordinary Plenary Meeting on the Convention "approving the International Coffee Agreement" as the public hearing B made by the Commission and Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RDTL, National Directorate of Trade and Industry this morning in the National Parliament of Timor-Leste.

Gabinete de Relações
PúblicasAgenda No. 132/II

Reunião Plenária Extraordinária deQuinta-Feira, de 25 de Setembro de 2008

Na parte de manhã de hoje não foi realizada a Sessão Plenária Extraordinária de Quinta-Feira, de 25 de Setembro de 2008 por motivo do quórum e da audiência pública feita pelos Senhores Deputados da Comissão A e as instituições de JSMP, ATTL, Advocat Sains Border, Post CAVR, UNMIT Human Rights, com o tema Protecção de Testemunha. Neste assunto o PDHJ só enviou o seu Relatório de Parecer e PGR não participou.

A Comissão B também realizou audiência pública com o Representante do Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros da RDTL, Direção Nacional do Comércio e Indústria sobre o tratado “Que Aprova o Acordo Internacional do Café”.

Na parte da tarde de hoje também não houve reunião por motivo do quórum. A II Vice-Presidente do Parlamento Nacional, Sra. Deputada Maria Paixão pediu desculpa ao Sr. Ministro da Educação Câncio Freitas, Sr. Vice-Ministro da Educação Paulo Assis e Assessor como redactores da Proposta de Lei No 8/II, (Lei de Bases da Educacao).

Finalmente a Sra. Deputada Maria Paixão Presidente da Mesa informou que amanhã 26 de Setembro de 2008, às 09h00 haverá reunião dos Líderes das Bancadas e às 10h00 haverá Reunião Plenária Extraordinária sobre a Convenção “Que Aprova o Acordo Internacional do Café” conforme a audiência pública feita pela Comissão B e Representante do Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros da RDTL, Direção Nacional do Comércio e Indústria hoje de manhã no Parlamento Nacional de Timor-Leste.


East Timor Parliament Plenary Session 24 September 2008

Automated translation. Not an official translation. Original Portuguese test follows.

National Parliament
Secretariat Office of Public Relations

Agenda No. 131/II Extraordinary Plenary Meeting of Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The plenary session today was presided over by Vice-President II of the National Parliament, Sra. Deputada Maria Paixao, assisted by Secretary of the Bureau, Sra. Deputada Maria Terezinha Viegas and II Deputy Secretary, Sra. Deputada Maria Teresa de Carvalho.

Was present the Minister of Education Mr. Freitas Cancio and Deputy Minister of Education Paulo Assis as drafters of the Bill 8/II.

The agenda of today did not address any subject in the period before the Order of the Day.

During the period of the Agenda was the only scheduled topic:

Discussion and vote in the general and specific proposal of the Law no. 8/II (Law on Education).

Chairman of the Board gave time to minister of Education to explain the Proposed Law referred to above. After the explanation, Sra. Deputada Maria Paixao, President of the Bureau, gave time for the President of the Standing Committee F Mr Virgil Dias Marcal and Draftsman Mr Mateus de Jesus to submit the report of opinion. The gentlemen made comments and corrections to the Proposed Law no. 8/II (Law on Education).

After dinner, the Plenary Session continued with the same chair and the same subject. After the intervention of the gentlemen the minister gave explanations and answers.

Therefore, before the vote on the Proposed Law. 8/II (Law on Education) Sra. Deputada Maria Paixao Chairman of the Board gave notice that she had received an urgent request from the government. It was about the coffee organisation treaty and there will be a meeting of leaders of party benches tomorrow.

The vote was 29 votes to 0 against and 5 abstentions.

Explanations of votes and protests on the request of urgency regarding the aforementioned treaty.

The Treaty of coffee was referred to the Commission C. Finally President Sra. Maria Paixão of the Bureau closed the plenary session and thanked the Minister and Deputy Minister of Education. End.
Gabinete de Relações Públicas

Agenda No. 131/IIReunião Plenária Extraordinária de Quarta-Feira, de 24 de Setembro de 2008

A Sessão Plenária de hoje foi presidida pela II Vice-Presidente do Parlamento Nacional, Sra. Deputada Maria Paixão, coadjuvada pela Secretária da Mesa, Sra. Deputada Maria Terezinha Viegas e II Vice-Secretária, Sra. Deputada Teresa Maria de Carvalho.Esteviram presentes nesta o Sr. Ministro da Educação Câncio Freitas e o Sr. Vice-Ministro da Educação Paulo Assis como redactores da Proposta de Lei No 8/II.

A agenda de hoje não abordou qualquer assunto no período de Antes da Ordem do Dia.No período da Ordem do Dia foi agendado o único assunto: “Discussão e votação na generalidade e na especialidade da Proposta de Lei no. 8/II, (“Lei de Bases da Educação”).

A Sra. Presidente da Mesa deu tempo ao Sr. Ministro da Educação para explicar sobre a Proposta de Lei acima citada. Após a explicação, a Sra. Deputada Maria Paixão, Presidente da Mesa, deu tempo ao Presidente da Comissão Especializada Permanente F Sr. Deputado Virgílio Dias Marçal e ao Relator Sr. Deputado Mateus de Jesus para apresentarem o Relatório de Parecer. Os Senhores Deputados fizeram apreciações e correcções à Proposta de Lei no. 8/II, (“Lei de Bases da Educação”). Depois do jantar, a Sessão Plenária continuou com a mesma presidência e o mesmo assunto. Depois das intervenções dos Senhores Deputados o Sr. Ministro deu explicações e respostas.

Consequentemente, antes da votação da Proposta de Lei no. 8/II, (“Lei de Bases da Educação”) a Sra. Deputada Maria Paixão Presidente da Mesa informou que tinha recebido um pedido de urgência do Governo. Era um tratado da organização do café e vai haver uma reunião dos Líderes das Bancadas amanhã. O resultado da votação foi 29 votos a favor, 0 contra e 5 abstenções. Declarações de votos e protestos sobre o pedido de urgência respeitante ao tratado acima mencionado.

O tratado do café foi baixado à Comissão C. Finalmente a Sra. Deputada Maria Paixão Presidente da Mesa encerrou a reunião plenária e agradeceu ao Sr. Ministro e Vice-Ministro da Educação. Fim.

UN presses on with East Timor violence probes

Source: Reuters - DILI, 26 Sept 2008 - The United Nations aims to complete investigating nearly 400 cases related to the bloodshed surrounding East Timor's 1999 independence vote from Indonesia, the chief U.N. investigator said on Friday. Leaders in East Timor and Indonesia said in July that the issue was closed after expressing regret at the findings of a joint truth commission that blamed Indonesian security and civilian forces for 'gross human rights violations'.

But the United Nations, which boycotted the truth commission, has said it will continue to back prosecutions through the Serious Crime Unit, which it set up to assist East Timor's prosecutors' office in probing the violence in which the United Nations says about 1,000 East Timorese died.

Several Indonesian military officials were tried in Indonesian human rights courts following the 1999 violence, but none were convicted.

'Bringing them back from Indonesia depends on bilateral agreements on extraditions. It depends also on the will of Indonesian authorities,' Marek Michon, chief investigator of the U.N. body, told reporters.

Michon said it had submitted 20 cases to East Timor's prosecutors' office, while it could take three years to conclude all 396 cases.

(Reporting by Tito Belo; Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Ed Davies and Jerry Norton)
ETLJB Editorial Note: For accounts of human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor by Indonesian state agencies and their proxies in 1999, visit 1999 East Timor Crimes Against Humanity.

East Timor entering period of peace, its leader tells high-level UN meeting

25 September 2008 – East Timor has entered a new phase of peace, economic growth and reduced crime since the unsuccessful assassination attempts against the leaders of the small South-East Asian nation in February, the country's President told the United Nations today.

Addressing the General Assembly's annual high-level segment, Jose Ramos-Horta, said the attacks against him and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao shocked the nation and served to unite the people in opposing violence.

The period following the attacks 'has been the most peaceful in many years without any politically motivated violence registered so far and even common criminality has been significantly reduced,' he said.

Mr. Ramos-Horta praised Mr. Gusmao and the Government for the positive steps made in consolidating stability and delivering services to the population.

'The progress is visible,' the President said, noting that a growing number of people displaced during the violent 2006 clashes - attributed to differences between the eastern and western regions - are returning to their homes.

East Timor can also take pride in its economic growth, with real GDP rising 7 per cent this year, with that figure being revised upwards to 19 per cent when oil and gas revenues are taken into account.

'However, we would not have succeeded in pulling back from the brink without the prompt and steadfast support from the international community,' Mr. Ramos-Horta, co-laureate of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, said, highlighting the assistance received from the UN and countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

In August, the Security Council commended East Timor's Government and public institutions for the 'rapid, firm and responsible manner' in which they responded after the attempts on the lives of the President and Prime Minister. ENDS
For an analysis of the constitutionality of the F-FDTL-PNTL joint command during the state of seige declared after the 11 February shootings referred to in the final paragraph of the above item, please click the following link to read Joint Command for PNTL and F-FDTL Undermines Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform in Timor-Leste by Bu V. E. Wilson B Sc Env Sci (Hons) LLM 19 February 2008 on East Timor Law Journal Article Citation: 2008 ETLJ 2

There have been 43 cases filed with the ombudamn of alleged human rights violations by the security forces during the emergency that followed the 11 February shootings.

East Timor mulls traditional justice for serious crimes

ABC Radio Australia 26/09/2008 - For many in East Timor, access to the justice system is almost impossible. Institutions are weak and the remoteness of many villages means it can take days to reach the nearest police station. Now, one government official is travelling around East Timor promoting the use of traditional justice for all crimes, including rape.

Presenter: Stephanie March Speakers: East Timor MP Fernanda Borges; Albilio de Jesus, Remexio sub-district police commander; Tulatakeu village chief Florindo Mesquita Lorego; State Secretary for the Environment Albilio De Jesus Lima; Chief of the United Nations Administration of Justice Support Unit in East Timor, Mitch Dufrense

Listen: Windows Media

MARCH: Tulatakeu village, is 14km from the nearest police station. It takes an hour and a half to walk there, and the road's in poor condition, and is cut off for several months of the year during the wet season. Albilio de Jesus is the Remexio sub-district police commander. He has 11 staff, and one motorbike, to police a population of 10,000.

DEJESUS: According to us, that's not enough. But while United Nations police are here we coordinate with them when we go on patrol. We got to maybe one town or two towns a day. Then we will go to more towns the next day.

MARCH: For many people in East Timor, access to formal justice is almost impossible. Institutions are weak, and it can take hours to reach the nearest police station and days to the nearest courthouse. For centuries, communities have relied on local mechanisms to resolve problems. Community leaders, from Tulatakeu including village chief Florindo Mesquita Lorego recently signed a document formalizing a committee to dish out traditional justice.

LOREGO: It applies to people who are thieves, horse thieves, cattle rustlers, rapists. People who go into someone's garden without permission from the owner, that's also a crime.

MARCH: I asked him what the penalty would be for someone found guilty of rape.

LOREGO: That will depend on what the council demands, they could demand two cows, maybe three, and they have to restore the reputation of the woman's community to other communities.

MARCH: And one East Timorese government official is traveling around the countryside, promoting the type of traditional justice adopted in Tulatakeu. State Secretary for the Environment Albilio De Jesus Lima recently visited the village to congratulate them for adopting traditional justice to include crimes like theft and rape.

East Timor is governed by the Indonesian penal code, and other laws developed during the period of United Nations administration following independence. Mr Lima says people don't trust those laws, so while the government works to establish an organic law, it's best to rely on traditional mechanisms.

LIMA: I think the environment portfolio includes sexuality, you talk about environment, you talk about human environment, about social environment, I focus on a total comprehensive environment. I am a public servant, aren't I?

MARCH: The inclusion of rape in the informal justice system is alarming for human rights advocates. Traditional law known as terra (tara ed.) bandu is mainly used to resolve community disputes about land and resource management, not crimes against the person. Traditionally in East Timor, often the crime of rape is not considered a crime against the person, but against her family. The belief is that if a woman becomes a victim of sexual assault, the community will believe her family can't take care of her.

Chief of the United Nations Administration of Justice Support Unit in East Timor, Mitch Dufrense says the biggest concern with traditional justice is whether or not the process and outcomes meet basic human rights standards.

DUFRENSE: The Minister of Justice has already stated that gender-based violence linked crimes are to be dealt with in the formal justice system. Those cases have traditionally been very challenging in the traditional mechanisms and have been examples of types of cases that fall below international standards.

MARCH: MP Fernanda Borges says traditional justice in East Timor is not set up to support victims of gender based violence.

BORGES: Usually it is the men that are the nucleus of power in the local community, and women are underneath that system. It works for other things, but I think definitely for domestic violence it is not an appropriate form to engage.

MARCH: State Secretary for the Environment Albilio de Jesus Lima says he has visited six districts that are using traditional law, which means up to one third of East Timor's population could be using this form of justice.

But MP Fernanda Borges says what he is promoting goes against many of the international human rights conventions signed by East Timor

BORGES: If the secretary of state is doing that he is very wrong, because he is operating completely outside of the constitution and the judical processes that are established in the country.

Post sponsored by East Timor Women - Raising awareness of the plight of women in Timor-Leste.

Mirko Daniel Fernandez, Canada, Forensic Anthropologist, UNMIT

03 June 2008 Dili, Timor-Leste: I am tasked with forensically examining individuals allegedly killed during Timor-Leste's bloody Popular Consultation period (1999).

This is both for legal identification and to examine the physical evidence in collaboration with the forensic pathologist, crime scene officer and regional investigation teams.

In short, I put names to the dead and help see that justice is done.

The role involves the search for and exhumation of human remains; assisting in the creation of a DNA identification programme; and developing, implementing and revising policies and procedures relating to the forensic laboratory, including coordination with human rights groups and family associations.My job is important for the maintenance of the rule of law in the country as it upholds the UN’s stance against an amnesty for the crimes against humanity that occurred in 1999.

The policy contains essential components of good governance and universal human rights, which the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) is mandated to promote.

At present, a typical day includes revision of our medical-legal documents with the Serious Crimes Investigation Team (SCIT) legal coordinators; liaising with NGOs on past forensic cases; preparation of lecturing material for the national police (PNTL) and coordinating on behalf of the SCIT with the Office of the Prosecutor General on DNA testing matters.

One way I think I’m currently making a difference actually began during an administrative delay. There was a hold-up in attaining a Memorandum of Understanding between the SCIT and the Prosecutor General’s office, but I was able to use the period constructively by helping build the local SCIT forensic officer’s capacity in best practices.This included mentoring the officer in international forensic standards; improving their awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) in homicide investigations; and networking with NGOs representing victims to improve the exchange of identification information.

Once trained, the forensic crime scene officer and I jointly provided more training to the national police Vulnerable Persons Unit (VPU). For example, we showed them how to conduct effective forensic investigations of missing persons in GBV homicide situations according to international standards of human rights and jurisprudence.

I believe that as a result of my mentorship, the SCIT forensic officer I helped will become one of the country’s most knowledgeable forensic experts within the context of human rights and GBV. The mentorship programme will continue throughout my contract.

I have worked for seven years in numerous countries recovering and examining the remains of people allegedly killed in conflicts. My experience includes time with the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in Bosnia (2000) and again in 2005-06 with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).My other work experience includes assisting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Vancouver, Canada; in Guatemala with the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG); and in Colombia as a consultant to the International Bar Association.

This is my second spell as a UNV volunteer in Timor-Leste: I was the UNV Forensic Anthropologist for the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMISET, the mission prior to UNMIT) Serious Crimes Unit in 2003-2004. Back then I chose to become a UNV volunteer as a means to contribute my professional skills in the arena of justice, human rights and identification of missing persons.

This time I chose to become a UNV volunteer again since I knew that in Timor-Leste I could make more of a difference in capacity building. I knew I would be able to apply my recent academic training in international human rights law within the medico-legal setting. I would have not had the same opportunities at time of recruitment with another organisation.

From UNV

Mirko Daniel Fernandez from Canada, graduated from the University of Essex in July 20007 with an LLM in International Human Rights Law.

ETLJB salutes Mirko Daniel Fernandez.

President Ramos-Horta statement to the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Extract from the Statement by H. E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta
President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Noble Peace Prize Laureate 1996

to the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

NEW YORK, 25 SEPTEMBER 2008 Mr. President, Majesties,Heads of States and Government, Ministers, Excellencies, First, it is my duty to congratulate you Mr. President for your well deserved election to preside over the 63rd session of the General Assembly.

I now turn to the situation in my own country.

On 11th February I was almost fatally shot. I escaped by an act of God and thanks to the professionalism and dedication of doctors and nurses at the Australian army medical centre in Dili and the doctors and nurses in the Darwin Royal Hospital.

To them and to all who have prayed for my life and recovery. I reiterate my eternal gratitude. I stood at the frontier between Life and Death, saw darkness of death and the beauty of life that I almost left behind.

The attack on me and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao shocked the nation and my near death served to unite the people in opposing violence. Since then the situation in Timor-Leste has been the most peaceful in many years without any politically motivated violence registered so far and even common criminality has been significantly reduced.

The Government led by Mr. Xanana Gusmao, a resistance hero, has made enormous efforts in stabilizing the country and in delivering services to the people. The progress is visible. A growing number of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) caused by the 2006 crisis is returning home. Most camps that existed for two years are now empty.

More than 700 former soldiers who were at the origin of the 2006 mutiny have accepted a Government financial package and returned home.

On the economic front, our real GDP will register 7% growth by the end of this year. However, if we factor in oil and gas revenues. our economic growth will be around 19%. While our real annual per capita GOP is less than US$400, this figure jumps to over US$4,000 if we factor in oil and gas revenues.

However, we would not have succeeded in pulling back from the brink without the prompt and steadfast support from the international community. I thank the Secretary-General and through him the entire UN family and in particular those serving in my country in different capacities for their selfless contribution to preserving peace in Timor-Leste.

I also thank Australia and New Zealand for maintaining a robust and credible security force in my country in assistance to, and close coordination with, our government and UNMIT under the leadership of Dr. Atul Khare, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who is a most compassionate human being, and a dedicated and tireless professional.

The professionalism of the International Security Forces is visible to all and the behaviour of the soldiers is irreproachable. The same can be said of the UN police force in my country comprising police from 40 countries with particular reference to Formed Police Units from Portugal. Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

We are blessed by The Almighty with non-negligible resources and can count on the generosity of our development partners but challenges remain complex and multifaceted. However, with a shared vision and commitment to serve the poorest of our people, I'm confident we will meet the Millennium Development Goals. We cannot fail. We shall not fail.

May God the Almighty and the Merciful bless us All. END

Australian police urged to arrest East Timor collaborator

Connie Levett Immigration Reporter SMH 26/09/2008 - GUY CAMPOS, the East Timorese man accused of high-level collaboration with the Indonesian military involving kidnapping and torture of East Timorese citizens during Indonesia's occupation, was convicted of "torture leading to death" of an 11-year-old boy, Francisco Ximenes, in 1979, according to newly uncovered East Timorese court documents.

The conviction was overturned within months in the Superior Court, in Kupang, across the border in West Timor.

Members of Australia's East Timorese community are campaigning to have Mr Campos, at present in Australia on a World Youth Day visa, arrested and tried for war crimes here. They say he will escape justice if he is allowed to return to East Timor.

Clinton Fernandes, principal analyst, East Timor, for Australia's intelligence corps in 1998-99, who saw the court documents in Dili last week, said the conviction was contained in a large court file on the death of the boy. The file is in the archives of East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

Dr Fernandes said Mr Campos's role as a collaborator was to identify East Timorese for interrogation and torture by the Indonesian military, and that he participated in their "disappearances".

"The Australian embassy in Dili was presented with the [commission's] report in February 2006," Dr Fernandes said, "but, more than 2 ½ years later, they have never followed up by visiting the [commission] and asking for more information about war criminals."

He said the Immigration Department had a representative in the embassy, so it could have discovered details of Mr Campos's activities any time after February 2006.

Joanna Ximenes, the sister of the boy who died, said that on July 20 she alerted the Immigration Minister, the Attorney-General, Paul Lynch, the MP for Liverpool, the Prime Minister and the Department of Immigration Dob-In Line that Mr Campos had entered Australia.

On August 8 she gave a detailed statement to the federal police about Mr Campos' alleged role in her brother's death but has heard nothing since.

Dr Fernandes has also told the federal police of the role played by Mr Campos, who belonged to Satuan Tugas Intelijen - the intelligence taskforce/implementing body - in the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

An Immigration Department spokesman said Mr Campos had not been convicted of any war crime and did not appear on a watch list, and that having referred the matter to the federal police, it could do nothing more. The existence of the court documents was first reported on Channel Seven's Today Tonight.

Mr Campos could not be reached for a response.

25 September 2008

East Timor Government to decriminalise defamation

Diario Nacional 24 September 2008 - East Timor's Justice Minister Lucia Lobato said the government will decriminalise defamation in the proposedl penal codes presented the National Parliament Tuesday (23/9) if the Parliament authorizes the government to do so.

'If the National Parliament authorised (the government), when the new penal codes are presented in May, defamation would not be a crime,' said Lobato.

Lobato explained that if anyone felt defamed then the person could file civil process against the person.

Domingos Sarmento, a FRETILIN's MP in the Parliament disagrees with the proposal of decriminalising defamation in the future penal codes, arguing that those who are poor may not be able to pay for compensation.

Meanwhile, MP Vital dos Santos from Democratic Party (PD) said that he entirely agreed with the proposal. However, he suggested the government create special conditions if defamation is to be decriminalised.
Timor Leste government vows to decriminalize defamation25 September 2008
Source: Timor Lorosae Journalists Association - The government of Timor Leste announced on September 24 its decision to decriminalize the country's Defamation Law, a move that was welcomed by the Timor Lorosa'e Journalists Association (TLJA).

Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato announced to members of the press gathered at the national parliament that the government will remove the Defamation Law from the country's Penal Code and will treat violations thereof as a civil case.

She added that the government will sign into law a revised penal code as soon as the national parliament passes the bill.

TLJA, a SEAPA partner based in Dili, Timor Leste, said it welcomes this decision of the government and considers it as a crucial step towards the promotion of freedom of expression in Timor Leste.

East Timor National Parliament to initiate anti corruption law

Suara Timor Lorosae 24 September 2008 - The second Vice President of the National Parliament Maria Paixao said Monday (22) that in order to fight and eradicate corruption in the country the parliament would urgently initiate a draft law on anti corruption.

'The National Parliament also sees that it is extremely urgent to initiate a draft of anti corruption law and to be urgently approved by the same parliament enabling the judiciary system to start prosecuting those involved in corruption,' Paixao said.

She also encouraged the office of Prosecutor General to courageously do their functions in eradicating corruption in the country regardless of mounting threats against the office.

She stressed that she is in favor of the establishment of the new anti corruption commission by the government and urged the office of Ombudsman to specifically focus on the issue of human rights.

Meanwhile, Estanislau Aleixo da Silva, an MP from FRETILIN, said that the office of Prosecutor General should take necessary legal measures against those who threaten the office via telephone because the law permits the office to have access to the telecommunication system.

Prosecutor names Lere Annan Timur and Falur as suspect in 2006 crisis

Suara Timor Lorosae 24 September 2008 - Dili District Prosecution has named Timor-Leste Defense Force Chief of Staffs, Lere Annan Timur and Falur Rate Laek as suspects in the country's recent crises of 2006.

The prosecution's decision was made through notification to summon Lere Annan Timur and Falur Rate Laek to be questioned in the upcoming 29 September.

Lere Annan and Falur said they recognised the notification from the Prosecution Office, yet they were still yet to know about the reason why the Court had named them as suspects.

Lere Annan said he respected the notification and that he would cooperate with the Court and would respond it.

“I think justice is for all, we all are under the law and the Court has its power to ask whoever to respond it,” Lere Annan said.

ETLJB Editorial Notes:

Extract from the Report of the United Nations Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste (The 2006 Crisis) Prosecution Recommendations page 51:

The evidence relating to the unlawful movement, possession and use of F-FDTL weapons is described in paragraphs 95 and 96 and demonstrates that those weapons were distributed by and/or with the knowledge and approval of the following persons:

Roque Rodrigues
Taur Matan Ruak
Tito da Costa Cristovao, aka Lere Anan Timor
Manuel Freitas aka Mau Buti
Domingos Raul aka Rate Laek Falur.

The Commission recommends that these persons be prosecuted for illegal weapons transfer.
BBC Historic Day for East Timor 30 August 1999

'Historic' agreement

Commanders from the pro-independence rebel movement Falantil and leaders of militias opposed to cutting ties with Indonesia met on Sunday at the UN's headquarters in Dili to announce their accord.

At a press conference attended by Indonesian police and military, they pledged to keep their forces in designated areas and to accept the results of the ballot.

Eurico Guterres, commander of one of the pro-Indonesian militias, Aitarak, described the agreement as "historic", while Falantil leader Falur Rate Laek said it paved the way for a peaceful vote.

"We wanted this agreement so that the people in the mountains can come down and vote tomorrow," he said.

Rival militia leaders: All smiles on the eve of the poll.
Falur Rate Laek (left) with Eurico Guterres in 1999 at
the time of the autonomy referendum.

East Timor Procurement Director tells MP's to shut-up

Suara Timor Lorosae 24 September 2008 - The National Director of the Procurement Services Francisco Soares Borulako said Tuesday (23/9) those who do not know the working procurement systems should stop questioning the procurement services.

'We have a lot of criterion about bidding systems which we often give out to our contractors and if they are eligible then we give them the tender' Borulako said.

He therefore urged the members of the Parliament who know nothing about the procurement systems to shut up.

Borulako explained that the single source mechanism which became a common polemic is also regulated in the law to be applied during emergency situation such as the purchase of weapons.

Recently, an AMP MP, Aderito Hugo of CNRT, accused the procurement services for what he called as conspiracy with contractors in implementing certain government projects.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Human Rights and Justice Ombudsman Sebastiao Dias Ximenes said that in most cases the bidding systems and procedures are only to fulfill formality by the procurement already identified or even chose the winners of the biddings.

Public Prosecution to summon Lere and Falur for inquiry

Televizaun Timor-Leste 24 September 2008 - Prosecutor General Longuinhos Monteiro said Wednesday (24/9) that the office of Public Prosecution had summoned Colonel Lere Anan Timor and Lieutenant Colonel Falur Rate Laek to face inquiry in relation to the 2006 crises.

Monteiro said that the two F-FDTL officers were summoned to simply give their testimonies but not as suspects. Lere and Falur are scheduled to give their statement to the public prosecution on 29 September and 1 October 2008.

Meanwhile, Monteiro also advised that in the near future, two F-FDTL and an UNPOL officer would be called to give their statements in relation to 11 February, as he was also on board PM Xanana Gusmao's convoy.

Longuinhos explained that after the hearing, the office of Prosecutor General would issue indictments which is likely to be happen in December 2008 or January 2009.

Thus far, the office of Prosecutor General had identified 23 suspects; all of them were followers of the former rebel leader Alfredo Reinado Alves.

Image: Colonel Lere Anan Timor

Applicable Indonesian land law of East Timor

Further to the recent posts on East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin on the issue of land and land law reform in East Timor (see, for example, Community Rights to Customary Land in East Timor), the following links are provided for those wishing to learn more about 2 of the the principle applicable Indonesian laws, in English; namely:

East Timor Directory - Discover enigmatic East Timor online!