05 April 2009

East Timorese civil society calls for criminal justice and rural development

3 April 2009 The Director of the Timor-Leste NGO Forum, Dinorah Granadeiro, today presented the concerns of national and international non-government organizations to the government of Timor-Leste and international donors, as part of the Timor-Leste and Development Partners’ Meeting.

Ms Granadeiro urged the government, its development partners and the entire international community to demonstrate a commitment to criminal justice to end impunity for crimes against humanity dating back to 1975. She said in her speech, 'We call upon the government to hold a full and proper parliamentary debate of the CAVR report and take action on its recommendations. The international community must now implement the UN’s repeated promises by allocating the necessary political, financial and legal resources to end impunity for these crimes against humanity.'

Ms Granadeiro added that currently, people in Timor-Leste, and particularly vulnerable groups, face serious barriers in seeking information about and giving input to government decisions and legal information, and therefore understanding rule of law and accessing rights and justice. She said, 'as we requested a year ago, we continue to call for the government, supported by its development partners, to ensure improved, timely public access to significant government information'.

Another priority, Ms Granadeiro explained, is to ensure that all Timorese citizens, including those in rural areas, can enjoy their basic human rights, such as the rights to education, food and health, and the environment is protected to safeguard the rights of future generations. Development, especially for Timor-Leste’s rural poor, is essential if Timor-Leste is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals as outlined in the National Priorities.

Ms Granadeiro said, 'while the government is taking clear steps towards decentralization, and has made rural development one of its National Priorities, rural areas still lag behind urban areas in terms of access to services. Budget cuts to rural sanitation and water are only one example. We therefore call on government, donors and the UN to commit to prioritising development in rural areas, and donors in particular to commit multi-year funding to rural development. We urge government and development partners to, once again, foster a long term approach through the development of a 5 year plan this year.'

The complete NGO statement to the Timor-Leste and Development Partners' Meeting is available at http://www.laohamutuk.org/econ/09TLDPM/09TLDPMindex.htm.

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