13 April 2009

Defamation - a Crime or Not in Timor-Leste? A Legal Analysis

2009 ETLJ 4 Defamation - a Crime or Not in Timor-Leste? A Legal Analysis by Nomen Nescio

Note: This is an English translation of an article written by an East Timorese lawyer in Tetum. The author did not wish to be identified. The English translation has been edited by the editor of the East Timor Law Journal. Click here to read the original Tetum text.

Defamation was confirmed as a criminal offence in Timor Leste in 2003 in the case of a non-national versus Suara Timor Lorosa'e (a leading daily newspaper) where the court decided in favor of the non national. As a consequence, STL had to pay a lot of money to that person. This issue was also debated when the previous government tried to criminalise defamation through a draft of a new Penal Code that up to this day continues to be a “draft” waiting to be approved in the coming months.

At that time everybody, civil societies, academics, Catholic Church and some international organisations did not agree with the plan of the previous government to criminalize defamation. That is why the President of the Republic (current Prime minister) invited everybody including the Judges of the Court of Appeal to an open discussion or debate on Televizaun Timor Leste (TVTL) and as a result the draft Penal Code is still pending (Thank God!). Read the full article on East Timor Law Journal.

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