Draft TP for Acting Special Representative of Secretary-General for Timor-Leste
Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen
8 January 2008
Conference Room B, 11.00am
Governance Support, Development and Humanitarian Coordination.
I would like to highlight some of the accomplishments in Timor-Leste for 2008, and also emphasize the coming challenges for 2009).
HUMANITARIAN and DEVELOPMENT
• It is first to be noted that in 2008, 54 IDP camps were closed, including 7 camps in Baucau. Another 9 camps are on their way to be closed in the next coming months.
• It is also to be noted that 55,000 people out of 65,000 registered with Minister of Social and Solidarity have been relocated after family members received the government recovery package and so far no major problems have been encountered.
• The Government has embarked on a programme of conditional cash transfers, such as pensions, the “Bolsa Mãe”, payments to the Petitioners and recovery packages to the IDPs, which helped boost the non-oil economy in the short term.
• Mid-December, the Government announced that two of the seven working groups on the national priorities for 2009 would be dedicated specifically to issues affecting 80% of the population who rely on subsistence agriculture. This government effort is to be praised and was also possible thanks to the rise of revenue from off-shore oil/gas exploitation due to higher international prices.
• There are some remaining key critical issues and challenges of food insecurity across Timor-leste with are related to 3 main components of food accessibility, availability and utilization.
• If 2008 has seen some visible improvement in the infrastructures in Dili in addition the inauguration of 5 bridges with the support of the international community, efforts need to be continued to end the general isolation and poor infrastructure affecting the rural community.
• There is a need to spend more on capital development by rebuilding and repairing roads and bridges and also improving water supply and power systems; irrigation canals, etc. in order to lay the foundation for a private sector based economy that can ensure sustained and sustainable growth in the non oil economy. In other words, the challenge is to translate the oil wealth into non-oil growth that will create job and livelihoods for the poor.
• In order to continue to expand the economy in the medium term, the Government will have to rely on public investments for the time being.
• On the electoral side, the Suco and municipal elections are to take place in 2009. STAE, with the support of the UN electoral team ( UNEST), carried out an update of the voter register as well as the exhibition and challenges period in each of the 13 districts. More than half the population ( 579,606) are listed as eligible voters on the list published on 22 December.
• In addition the CNE successfully implemented the Law regarding state financing for political parties which are represented in the Parliament.
• Regarding the justice sector, there was substantial progress in drafting key legislation such as finalizing a draft of a criminal code which is now for review; and a draft civil code, currently under public consultation.
• Following the establishment of a sub-working group between the Office of the Prosecutor’s General and United Nations, major improvements took place to expedite the notification services in criminal cases.
• The legal training center commenced a third post graduate training course for judges, prosecutors and public defenders. A total of 37 people graduated from the center
• In order to facilitate the overall functioning of the prosecution service and a more permanent presence in the districts, prosecution files have been transferred from Dili to their respective jurisdictions in Baucau and Oecussi with Suai to follow shortly
• New building for the District Prosecution Office have been inaugurated in Suai; two more are under constructions in Oecussi and Dili.
• The biggest challenge lies with the Office of the Prosecutor’s General who is committed to reduce by half the ongoing live/pending cases, currently about 5400. This includes progress in the investigation and prosecution of all Commission of Inquiry cases.
• Regarding the prisons, a training program is under development which includes an exchange for Timor-Leste staff to receive mentoring and training while working for six weeks alongside Prison Staff in Australia.
Possible Q and A
1. On New Year’s Eve, the President said that he hopes Timorese judges make all decisions by June this year, and that international judicial actors serve in an advisory capacity. Is this related to dissatisfaction with Judge Ivo Rosa?
Of course, the goal for development of the judiciary is that Timorese themselves to take on leading roles. As progress is made, international partners will and are making adjustments to the assistance that is provided, in consultation with our Timorese counterparts, to ensure the long-term viability of the judiciary. For example, UNDP continues support to the Legal Training Centre, which on 29 July, commenced the third post-graduate training course for judges, prosecutors and public defenders with 18 candidates who will undergo two and a half years of academic and practical training. A total of 37 people have graduated from the centre.
With regards to the status of international judges, this is between the judge and the Superior Council of the Judiciary. The Council has a clear constitutional role, as the managerial and disciplinary body that is charged with appointing, assigning and dismissing judges.
As far as decisions of the Court of Appeal, these are the operations of an organ of sovereignty, and UNMIT has no comments about its decisions or how those decisions are reached. We would encourage that the rule of law be respected.
2. What about the President’s implication that he will replace Judge Claudio Ximenes given his extended absence from the country?
Once again, this issue deals with the workings of organs of sovereignty of Timor-Leste. We would only encourage that the rule of law and the Constitution be respected, and that decisions are made based on the long-term needs to further develop the judiciary.
3.Why is the investigation into 11 February taking so long?
This is a question better suited for the Prosecutor General. However, I can say from my experience in other countries that major criminal investigations can take a long time. The investigations have to be done very carefully to ensure the best case possible when the case goes to court.
4.Does UNMIT have any further comments on the recent articles which appeared in The Australian?
I would only what I said on 24 December: “In UNMIT’s view, we can say clearly that we feel very good about the progress that has been made in Timor in 2008 and the resiliency demonstrated by the Timorese people in a year that started with great challenge. The streets of Dili and the rest of the country are calm and peaceful.”
5.You say the situation in peaceful and calm but what do you think of what happened in Viqueque with …
I congratulate the authorities of Timor-Leste along with MSS and PNTL for their quick and appropriate responses to the situation in Buikarin, Viqueque District. They are taking the situation seriously as indicated by the deployment of an MSS assessment team and a visit by the Secretary of State for Security on 7 January. Also, the Secretary of State for Defense and the Minister for State Administration also went to Viqueque. I'm confident that the Government has the ability and resources necessary to respond to the displacement situation there.
- Police have also taken steps to ensure the safety of people in that area. A Bangladeshi Formed Police Unit has been deployed, as well as a PNTL Rapid Intervention Unit. The police are working in close cooperation with all relevant authorities, and the local communities, in order to address the situation. Hopefully their combined efforts will allow the quick return of the displaced families.
- I would urge all members and leaders of the community in Buikarin to cooperate with authorities in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect in order to allow a normalization of the situation.
- Although the situation is certainly distressing for affected families, it is a localized event that is not related to wider issues at the national or even district level. Timor-Leste generally remains calm and peaceful.