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01 July 2009

Rede ba Rai calls for effective public consultation on the draft Land Law

30 Organisations in over 12 countries, support the Land Network’s call for effective public consultation on the draft Land Law

Press Release – 30th June – For Immediate Release Over 30 organisations in 12 Countries have endorsed a set of measures that would ensure a fair and effective public participation on Timor-Leste’s draft Land Law. Today the Timor-Leste Land Network (Rede ba Rai) wrote for a second time to the Minister of Justice, Lucia Lobato, urging her to adopt these measures for the government’s public consultation process.

The new land law will determine who owns land in Timor-Leste. It will have far reaching effects on the nation’s social, cultural, economic and ecological development.

Inês Martins from La’o Hamutuk, a Land Network member said “We are very eager to support the development of a good law. Public consultation is crucial to find the best workable solution on land issues in Timor-Leste. We first gave the Minister our recommended measures on 10th June. We are hoping that she will give more time for consultation so we can effectively work together on the land law.”

“This law will effect every single person in our nation” – Demetrio de Carvalho, Director of Haburas Foundation and Land Network Member.

“The information we have so far is that the process may be extended until mid-September. However two months is less than half the time we need for an adequate consultation.” said Ms. Martins.

“The public consultation meetings are starting before people have had an opportunity read the law. They need time to understand it and discuss it. It’s very complex. A one day meeting in each district is not enough time for people to learn about the law and provide constructive feedback.”

“To the best of our knowledge consultation meetings will start on Monday (6th July) but the timetable’s still not finalized.”

The Land Network’s letter notes it ‘is eager to coordinate extensive public consultation and information sharing’ and today asks the Minister;

· To outline how people at the Sub-District, Suco and Aldeia levels will receive information on this law and participate in the consultation process,

· To extend the consultation process until the end of October in order to facilitate submissions from rural communities

· To explain how public feedback will be recorded, reported to the public and considered for incorporation in the law.

Copies of the letter were also sent to the Prime Minister, President of the Republic, President of the Parliament, President of Commission A, Director of the National Directorate of Land, Property and Cadastral Services and the Director of Citizenship.

Please see below the signatures of relevant organizations and the minimum requirements that were sent to the Minister of Justice on June 10th.

For more information please contact: Meabh Cryan, Secretariat Rede ba Rai, +670 730 7800 meabhcryan@gmail.com or Inês Martins from La’o Hamutuk on +670 725 8724.

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Minimum Requirements for Effective Public Participation on the Draft Transitional Land Law

10 June 2009

Public Information

· A public consultation period of at least 5 months. At least a month is needed to share information and promote public discussion on the draft law before public consultation meetings begin.

· A summary of key elements and concepts of the draft law which people with limited formal education can understand, to be released together with the draft law.

· A timetable of public consultations with dates and place names. This needs to be issued at the start of the process so that communities and civil society are aware of when consultations will occur in their area.

· Distribute the draft law, summary of key points and timetable of public consultations to all Suco councils, district administrators, other local governance organs and DNTPSC and Ita Nia Rai offices before the public consultations start. Post information about the consultation and timetable to all Sede Suco noticeboards.

· Make copies of the draft law, summary and timetable of public consultations available to other agencies, civil society organizations and members of the public. This will help to ensure fair distribution to all members of the community.

Public Meetings

· Ensure Ministry of Justice/Ita Nia Rai facilitated public consultation meetings are held, at a minimum, in all 13 districts with broad public participation.

· Devise a mechanism that reaches people at more local levels. For example, coordinate with civil society groups and district DNTPSC offices, and train Xefe Councils, in order to engage communities at the suco level, or at the very least in all sub-districts.

· Make it clear in all announcements that all community members are invited to attend public meetings and take measures to actively encourage broad participation. We encourage meeting organizers to help facilitate transport for community members.

· Facilitators for public consultations need to provide specific opportunities for women participants to speak (not only by keeping it ‘’generally open” for women to speak). Facilitators should also ensure that people of all ages have an opportunity to speak.

· Public meetings to consult with communities should last at least 2 - 3 days. The first day to provide information, and the following day/s for communities to give their input and ideas.

· Hold public consultations in Tetum, with the flexibility to incorporate ideas and input in community languages (such as through informal translations by community members).

· Monitor public attendance and participation in consultation meetings to track the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as women.

· We encourage incorporating a variety of perspectives in public consultation meetings. This could include inviting speakers from civil society, academia, and customary land authorities to present.

Accountability

· Produce a publicly available and timely report to record input and suggestions from the public consultations. Determine the parameters of this report and who is responsible for it before public consultation begins. This will strengthen accountability for how public suggestions are incorporated into the draft amendments.

· Provide a statement to outline how public input is incorporated into the draft law.

Signatures of supporting Organisations

Rede ba Rai Timor-Leste
Forum ONG Timor-Leste (Fongtil)
Trocaire, Timor-Leste
Concern Worldwide, Timor-Leste
Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Cafod
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
International Organisation of Migration (IOM)
Joel Simo, Land Desk, Vanatuatu Kaljoral Senta (Vanuatu Cultural Centre)
Warren Wright, East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin
Dr. Jennifer Franco, Transnational Institute, Amsterdam
Dr. Tim Anderson, University of Sydney
La’o Hamutuk – The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis
Fundasaun Haburas
HASATIL Network
Luta Hamutuk
KSI – Kdaduluk Sumulituk Institutu
Forum Tau Matan
Permatil
JSMP – Judicial Systems Monitoring Programme
Asian Farmers’ Association – Alliance of regional farmers groups in 8 Asian countries
Aniban ng mga Manggagawan sa Agrikultura (AMA - Union of Agricultural Workers in the Philippines)
Dr. Max Kelly, Deakin University
AIDWATCH
PARAGOS PILIPINAS (National Philippino Peasant Organisation)
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
ATTAC, Japan
Focus on the Global South
Daniel Nazer, Civil Liberties lawyer, San Francisco

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