05 August 2009

The Rights of the Child in East Timor

Representing Children Worldwide Yale University Timor-Leste Last edited: December 2005 Summary and Analysis - Timor-Leste does not yet have any legislation in force that addresses child representation in protective proceedings. Timor-Leste became an independent country in May 2002 and is currently in the process of establishing a functioning judicial system and drafting its own legislation. Legislation on the rights of the child is currently in draft form. The draft legislation on domestic violence also applies to children (but makes no special provision for children) and provides for the establishment of hotline, transit homes, and special units for reporting domestic violence within the police force. In addition to the development of legislation protecting children, the Government is currently establishing a National Children's Commission that will coordinate programs and policies affecting children and monitor the implementation of the CRC.[2]

Timor-Leste ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in April 2003 and has not yet submitted its initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Section 9(2) of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste establishes that “rules provided for in international conventions, treaties and agreements shall apply in the internal legal system of Timor-Leste following their approval, ratification or accession by the respective competent organs and after publication in the official gazette.”[3] As a result, the CRC's Article 12 right of the child to be heard in protective proceedings is binding upon Timor-Leste, despite the current lack of a framework for the implementation of this right.

Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

Portuguese Text

International Law

Convenção sobre os Direitos da Criança[4]
Artigo 12

1. Os Estados Partes garantem à criança com capacidade de discernimento o direito de exprimir livremente a sua opinião sobre as questores que lhe respeitem, sendo devidamente tomadas em consideração as opiniões da criança, de acordo com a sua idade e maturidade.

2. Para este fim, eu assegurada à criança a oportunidade de ser ouvida nos processos judiciais e administrativos que lhe respeitem, seja directamente, seja através de representante ou de organismo adequado, segundo as modalidades previstas pelas regras de processo da legislação nacional.


Constituição da República Democrática de Timor-Leste[5]

Artigo 18° (Protecção da criança)

1. A criança tem direito a protecção especial por parte da família, da comunidade e do Estado, particularmente contra todas as formas de abandono, discriminação, violência, opressão, abuso sexual e exploração.

2. A criança goza de todos os direitos que lhe são universalmente reconhecidos, bem como de todos aqueles que estejam consagrados em convenções internacionais regularmente ratificadas ou aprovadas pelo Estado.

3. Todas as crianças, nascidas dentro ou fora do matrimónio, gozam dos mesmos direitos e da mesma protecção social.

English Text

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child[6]

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.


Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste[7]

Section 18 (Child protection)

1. Children shall be entitled to special protection by the family, the community and the State, particularly against all forms of abandonment, discrimination, violence, oppression, sexual abuse and exploitation.

2. Children shall enjoy all rights that are universally recognized, as well as all those that are enshrined in international conventions commonly ratified or approved by the State.

3. Every child born inside or outside wedlock shall enjoy the same rights and social protection.

Additional Resources and Links

UNICEF Dili – Child Protection Unit
UN House
Caicoli Street
Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: (670) 331-3309
Fax: (670) 331-3322
Email: dili@unicef.org


[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

2Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on technical cooperation in the field of human rights in Timor-Leste, U.N. Comm.H.R., 61st Sess., Agenda Item 19, para. 53, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2005/115

[3] Const. Rep. Dem. Timor-Leste art. 9(2) (2002)

[4] Portuguese translation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, available at http://www.unicef.org/brazil/dir_cri.htm. The precedence of international agreements over all domestic rules and norms, including the Constitution, is not specifically stated in the Constitution, but is strongly suggested in Section 9(3), which determines that “all rules that are contrary to the provisions of international conventions, treaties and agreements applied in the internal legal system of East Timor shall be invalid.” Id, at art. 9(3).

[5] Const. Rep. Dem. Timor-Leste art. 18 (2002), available at http://www.moj.gov-rdtl.org/tlaw/RDTL-Law/RDTL-Constitution.pdf.

[6] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[7] Const. Rep. Dem. Timor-Leste art. 18 (2002)


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