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.
See also UNTAET EXECUTIVE ORDER NO 2000/2 ON THE DECRIMINALISATION OF DEFAMATION