1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1802 (2008), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) until 26 February 2009. It covers major developments in Timor-Leste and the implementation of the Mission’s mandate since my report of 29 July 2008 (S/2008/501).
2. As at 20 January 2009, UNMIT consisted of a civilian component comprising 340 international staff (122 women), 874 national staff (158 women), 1,510 police officers (74 women) and 31 military liaison and staff officers (2 women). The United Nations country team consisted of 254 international staff (111 women) and 508 national staff (133 women). My Special Representative, Atul Khare, continued to lead the Mission and to coordinate with United Nations system actors and other stakeholders. He was assisted by the Deputy Special Representative for Governance Support, Development and Humanitarian Coordination, Finn Reske-Nielsen, who also acts as officer-in-charge in the absence of my Special Representative, and by the Deputy Special Representative for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law, Takahisa Kawakami, who took up his functions on 2 November. UNMIT has continued its integrated “one United Nations system” approach and made significant progress in achieving integration across all relevant areas of the mandate. The joint efforts of UNMIT and the United Nations country team have been instrumental in providing coordinated policy, political, technical and financial support to help Timor-Leste accomplish its goals.
II. Political and security developments since July 2008
3. The present reporting period marked an important stage in the recovery from the 2006 crisis and a return to normalcy following the events of 11 February 2008 (see S/2008/501, para. 3). The security situation remained calm and security arrangements generally followed constitutional and legal parameters since the lifting of the states of exception introduced as a result of the attacks in February on the President, José Ramos-Horta, and the Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão (see S/2008/501, paras. 4-6). Gastão Salsinha, an associate of the late former Military Police Commander of the Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), and his group who surrendered to State authorities (see S/2008/501, para. 5) remained in custody while the Prosecutor-General continued criminal investigations. The Government also made remarkable progress in addressing the two major residual consequences of the 2006 crisis — the F-FDTL “petitioners” and the internally displaced persons (see S/2008/501, para. 7) — even though further sustained efforts are needed to ensure durable solutions. After having accepted their first tranche of payments in July, the petitioners who had gathered in the Aitarak Laran camp in Dili had, by 1 August, returned to their homes. In the second half of October, they received their second and final tranche. There were no incidents affecting their reintegration into civilian life. The return of internally displaced persons accelerated dramatically (see para. 45 below), with the result that, as at 20 January, 54 out of the 63 internally displaced persons camps in Dili and Baucau had been closed, without significant incident.
4. On 30 July, the Parliament approved an increase in the budget to $788.3 million for the fiscal year ending on 31 December 2008, to be funded mostly through a withdrawal of $686.8 million from the Petroleum Fund. It included the allocation of $240 million to an economic stabilization fund, one of whose objectives was to ensure the supply of critical commodities at affordable prices, partly in response to the global food crisis. On 13 November, the Court of Appeal, the highest judicial organ in the country in the absence of a Supreme Court, declared the allocation of $240 million to the Fund to be unconstitutional. The Court also ruled that any withdrawal without adequate justification to the Parliament in excess of $396.1 million (representing the 3 per cent estimated sustainable income) from the Petroleum Fund was in violation of the petroleum law. Given that the ruling was not retroactive and came towards the end of the fiscal year, it had limited practical effect; as at 31 December, $396 million had been withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund.
5. The Court decision was a landmark event in Timor-Leste, as the first major ruling against a piece of legislation since the crisis of 2006. Despite initial criticism about the role of international judges who sit on the Court, on 20 November, President Ramos-Horta made an unequivocal public statement that the decision of the Court must be respected. This was an important contribution towards strengthening respect for the Constitution, separation of powers and rule of law. Read the full report...