31 August 2011

More violence in Covalima district, two weeks after a PNTL member was killed and 70 houses were burned down in the sub-district of Zumalai

Independente 29 August 2011 - On Saturday, a police officer and four civilians were injured when an unidentified civilian group attacked a district police team at a wedding party in the sub-district of Kamanasa, Covalima District Police Commander Inacio Saldanha said.

Mr Saldanha said the victims were yesterday receiving medical treatment at the Suai hospital.

Police brought the situation under control and were still investigating the motive behind the conflict, he said.

“Who did it and does it have any relation to the case of Zumalai or not? We will see after the investigation process,” he told INDEPENDENTE last night.

A Kamanasa resident said the civilian group started the conflict by attacking the police officer who was injured.

Meanwhile, 14 men accused of involvement in the violence in Zumalai sub-district, Covalima, are in Dili’s Becora jail awaiting court, head of PNTL’s Criminal Investigation Service Calisto Gonzaga said.

A PNTL member was killed early this month after attempting to stop the fighting between two youth groups in Zumalai.

On the night of the late-afternoon conflict, unknown offenders burned down people’s houses.

“At the moment (the 14 men) are in Becora prison. We are still looking for complete evidence (to bring them to court),” Mr Gonzaga told INDEPENDENTE last week.

Police were also waiting for formal orders from court to arrest others suspected of involvement in the violence, he said.

Meanwhile, there were reports of recent violence between two groups in Baucau but Mr Gonzaga said his department had not received a formal report from the district.

A woman suffered head injuries when police intervened in a conflict between two groups from Lamagua and Centra sub-villages in the village of Bahu, Baucau district, on Saturday, August 20.

The victim, Odete Varelha, handed a letter of complaint against the police to the national parliament last Thursday.

Ms Varelha said, after the conflict between the two groups, the Baucau District Police commander asked residents not to walk on or sit down near the street from 5pm until the morning.

But she said she was not aware of the curfew announcement and police bashed her after she sat down in front of her house.

“We did not know (where) the curfew state (announcement came from),” Ms Varelha told journalists at the parliament building.

She said she had to report the incident to the parliament because police bashed many innocent people, including other women and elderly men.

Ms Varelha’s husband, police officer Nuno dos Reis, accompanied his wife to the parliament.

Mr Reis said he wanted to see justice.

(Original published in English in Jornal Independente)

Deceased police officer's family calls for responsibility

East Timor Legal News 29/08/2011 Source Timor Post language source: Tetun - The family of the deceased police officer Alfredo da Costa has called for Parliamentary President Fernando Lasama de Araujo to be responsible for the widow and children whom da Costa left.

"We are calling on the Parliament, especially the president of the Parliament to pay attention to the widow and her children by providing them with scholarships so that they can continue their study," a family member Guilherme said.

Lasama should take responsibility because Alfredo had escorted him as personal security, he said.

Guilherme also called on the country's state bodies not to repeat such training in the future. Da Costa died in Jakarta after relieving an intensive medical treatment in Jakarta [Indonesia].

The electric current which was used to hit da Costa has been the cause of his death.

Portuguese GNR training results in another police officer death

East Timor Legal News 29/08/2011 Source: Independente - A Close Personal Security officer (CSP), Chief Agent Alfredo da Costa, who was hit with electric current by the Portuguese GNR Police during last month's training has died.

Da Costa was receiving an intensive medical treatment at Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta for about one month, but then he passed away last Thursday (25/8).

After the training, da Costa was taken to the National Hospital of Guido Valadares for medical treatment and he had to be taken Jakarta as he was seriously injured.

During the GNR training two CSP officers have died because of the training methods.

President calls for police to use force

President Jose Ramos Horta
East Timor Legal News 29 /08/2010 Source: Televizaun Timor-Leste - President Jose Ramos Horta has called on the Timorese National Police (PNTL) to use force when responding to any act of violence in the country.

The president made the comments regarding several outbreaks of violence which have recently happened in the territory of Timor-Leste.

Horta said the police should use force to respond to the situation if certain groups continue creating instability in the country. "If any certain groups breach the law and public order, the police will get instruction to use force.

If martial art clubs create problems, it is the responsibility of the police to use force which is based on the law to resolve such situation," he said.

ETLJB Editor's Note: Words unbecoming of a Nobel peace prize recipient. Rather, the President should be calling on the government to initiate a dialogue with the affected communities through mediation, consultation and peaceful processes and to participatively develop policies aimed at resolving the social problems that cause this violence.

The President himself should be visiting those communities and convening meetings with the customary leaders and the youth who participate in the violence; to hear the grievances and woes that underlie the instability.

The police should be deployed to only to maintain order during these phases; not to unleash deadly force only after the conflicts that have erupted into death and destruction have been long neglected by the government.

Violence begets violence; just as the violence deployed by the Indonesian imperialists in East Timor begot the violent independence struggle.

Giving a Presidential nod to the use of violence by the police against citizens could dangerously incite police officers to resort to violent responses and, given the history of human rights violations by the East Timor police, none of this bodes well for the civil peace.

Women and Land in Timor-Leste Issues in Gender and Development

Abstract: Gender and development being fundamental issues, it is important to emphasise the role of women in rural development, gender–specific approaches to development and women’s status in the national and international legal systems. The main aim of this article is to analyse the position of women in Timor-Leste by examining social aspects, with an emphasis on gender roles, the family and the community, access to natural resources and women’s status within the legal system and traditional legal structures, with special attention to land and women’s land rights. This study is based on documentary sources and studies made by the authors about Timor-Leste. The contribution of the women of Timor-Leste to development is heavily constrained by the degree of gender inequality present in traditional/customary law and social practices, and in-equality of access to natural resources, especially land. In overall terms, we would argue that the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) is one of the best approaches to guarantee gender equality, and that this approach should be considered in the formulation of rural policies and the creation and implementation of rural development programmes and projects in Timor-Leste. 

Potent mix for Timor-Leste

30 August 2011 DILI – Land, corruption and poverty are all on the table as Timor-Leste gets into political mode ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2012, with one controversial figure already throwing his hat into the ring.

Convicted of arming gunmen during Timor-Leste’s 2006 crisis, which threatened to destabilize the then four-year-old state, Rogerio Lobato told Asia Times Online that he will run for president, contesting a largely-ceremonial position now held by a fellow former Timorese exile activist, Jose Ramos-Horta. Read the full article on Asia Times.

29 August 2011

Weaving the Country Together: Identities and Traditions in East Timor

ETLJB 29/08/2011 Weaving the Country Together: Identities and Traditions in East Timor - This 2002 honours thesis by Natalie Pride was first published on the East Timor Law Journal some years ago. ETLJB recommends this thesis, and Ms. Pride for her insightful writing. As she notes, "[e]mploying a methodology of setting textile development comprehensively within an historical context and placing the material heritage of East Timor within the foreground ...represents an opportunity for innovative and relevant research, in which the standard view of Timor as an island dominated by violence can be rethought and even challenged." (emphasis added)

Here is an extract from the Introduction. 

The rich cultural heritage of East Timor provides the historian with an ideal balance to prevailing historical approaches, which place conflict and violence at the forefront. Academic literature and the international media have focused on experiences of war in East Timor, and therefore engaged with just one aspect of the historic dialogue. This new nation in fact has much more to offer the historian than gendered political, colonial and military discourses. Throughout the region, war is associated with images of masculinity, coolness and hardness; essential to these regional worldviews is the existence of a complementary opposite – thus war is balanced by warmth, femininity, and textiles. This paper will place textiles, rather than conflict, at the forefront in an attempt to address the textual imbalances of current historical accounts.

East Timor Law Journal - Towards the rule of law in Timor-Leste

TEMPO SEMANAL: FALINTIL-FDTL Sacks Soldiers and Sets Example for the Country

TEMPO SEMANAL: FALINTIL-FDTL Sacks Soldiers and Sets Example for the Country

28 August 2011

USGov: Security Missteps Damage Dili's Recent Performance (2-28-2008) via wikileaks

08DILI65 2008-02-28 09:52 2011-08-26 00:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Dili

O R 280952Z FEB 08




E.O. 12958: N/A





¶1.  (SBU)  Serious missteps by the Timorese security forces, both  the national police and the military, have dented the government's performance in recent days.  UNMIT has reported several credible reports of human rights violations of varying severity by the police since February 11, including the unprovoked beating of a journalist.  The surrenders of two alleged participants in the February 11 attacks on the President and Prime Minister have been handled very badly, including in one case the drawing of weapons by the Timorese military on UNPOL personnel.  Three other alleged perpetrators have been among more than 400 "petitioners" that have gathered in Dili; only late on February 28 were the five presented to a court. More than twenty other attackers remain at large, although reports suggest they are increasing desperate and preparing for surrender.  Six did so today.  Dili and the rest of  Timor-Leste remain calm.  The ever-growing crowd of petitioners in Dili gives the government a big opportunity to resolve one of the nation's priorities.  End

¶2.  (SBU)  In reftel, we had a relatively positive assessment of the government of Timor-Leste's (GOTL) performance since the attacks on the president and prime minister on February 11, ¶2008.  While we saw several potential vulnerabilities and the possibility of renewed instability due to government inaction or maladministration, we judged performance overall as reassuringly good.  In brief, the GOTL since 2/11 implemented emergency and other measures in accordance with the constitution and law, institutions continued to function, Timorese security agencies cooperated to maintain stability and capture the 2/11 perpetrators, and the country's leadership focused on resolving the military petitioner and IDP priorities.  Regrettably, some of the GOTL's recent actions seriously undermined our confidence.

Highlights follow.

Human rights abuses


¶3.  (SBU)  UNMIT human rights officials state there have been between ten and fifteen reports of credible violations of human rights by the Timorese national police (PNTL) since February 11, including physical abuse.  Full investigations by UNMIT are pending.  Prominent among the allegations are the arrest and beating of a journalist apprehended on February 24 during curfew hours and, though not widely reported, the nighttime and uninvited entry into a house used as a residence by UNPOL officers and the beating of a Thai UNPOL member.
The Secretary of State for Security promptly issued a public apology regarding the PNTL's ill-treatment of the journalist.

¶4.  (SBU)  On February 25, UNPOL took into custody a suspect for whom an arrest warrant had been issued due to his involvement in crimes committed by Alfredo Reinado's group in 2006.  The suspect surrendered to UNPOL voluntarily, was brought by UNPOL to the Dili detention center where he stayed overnight and, on February 26, was handed over to the prosecutor general for judicial processing. Later that day, the prosecutor general released the suspect prior to his appearance before a court into the personal "custody" of one of the petitioners now in an encampment in Dili.

¶5.  (SBU)  On February 27, another 2/11 suspect voluntarily surrendered himself to the police in Oecussi, the Timor-Leste enclave in Indonesia.  UNPOL provided helicopter transportation back to Dili and UNPOL police accompanied.  Upon arrival at the Dili airport, the suspect was placed in an UNPOL vehicle and the party proceeded towards the airport exit.  A Timorese military (F-FDTL) truck blocked their departure, however, and fourteen troops with weapons drawn surrounded the UNPOL car and seized the suspect.  He, too, was dropped at the
petitioners' encampment without having first been delivered to the judicial authorities.  Beyond the outrageous and wholly improper threat against UN personnel, and the arguable commission of an act of armed kidnapping, the F-FDTL troops violated Timor law as they do not have police powers of arrest.  (Note: this incident has not yet made it into the local press.)

¶6.  (SBU)  There also have been a number of worrisome actions by F-FDTL personnel on February 11 and thereafter, as well as apparent GOTL forbearance of impunity by soldiers and others. Questions surrounding the actions of the president's F-FDTL close protection unit on February 11 are legion.  As of February 27, F-FDTL commanders had denied permission to F-FDTL troops present at the president's residence and eyewitness to the events on February 11 to undergo interviews with police investigators and provide evidence.  (Note: the prosecutor general told us yesterday that permission finally had been granted and the F-FDTL soldiers would soon present their accounts, but we have not been able to confirm that they have done so.)  In November 2007, four F-FDTL soldiers were sentenced to 12 years in prison for committing murder during the 2006 crisis.  Although all of their appeals have been heard and denied, none have been turned over to prison authorities, and one has been seen manning the security detail at President Horta's residence(!).  In addition to the two suspects mentioned above, UNMIT confirms that three others with outstanding warrants for either the 2/11 events or Reinado-related 2006 activities were among the petitioners now assembled in Dili.

Still moving forward


¶7.  (SBU)  Despite the serious bruises that the rule of law and respect for human rights in Timor-Leste suffered over the past few days, overall the situation remains positive.  Dili and the remainder of the country are calm, stores are open, and markets are bustling as normal.  All members of the U.S. embassy family are safe as are members of the American community.  Surprisingly large numbers of petitioners have assembled in Dili, a startling development (and opportunity) not predicted even a week ago. Numerous reports have Salsinha, the leader of the remaining 2/11 attackers, feeling increasingly isolated, fearful of capture and preparing himself for surrender.  Six of his band surrendered to police in a district outside of Dili today.  Senior UNMIT representatives told us that the PM responded to the February 27 incident (para 5 above) with a letter to the SRSG promising to investigate fully, the President twice has formally apologized, and the PM and SRSG will meet the evening of February 28 to discuss.  The five suspects in Dili finally were turned over to UNPOL late on February 28 and presented before a court. Other functions of government roll on, albeit at the low levels to which we are accustomed.  Ministers in charge of economic/social development have been pushing us hard to advance assistance in areas from roads to IDP housing.

¶8.  (SBU)  As always in this volatile country, we face a great deal of unpredictability going forward.  The capture/surrender of the remainder of the 2/11 attackers could be prolonged or go badly.  Coordination among the four security agencies (F-FDTL, PNTL, UNPOL and the Australian-led International Stabilization Force) has been strained, sometimes sharply so, and could yield an unhappy or tragic outcome.  There is great public uncertainty regarding the events of 2/11, the motivations of the attackers and the extent and prominence of their supporters.  Once the truth is revealed, the political consequences could be significant and destabilizing.  There are also dangers of an official cover-up, failure to fully pursue the truth, or enjoyment by the perpetrators or their supporters of impunity. The petitioners that have presented themselves in Dili give the GOTL an enormous opportunity to resolve a set of grievances that have tragically undermined the nation's stability for more than two years.  But will the government be able to effectively mount a decisive response?  We remain alert both to the dangers present in Timor's forlorn political landscape, and eager to assist those leaders committed to the strengthening and
development of Timor's democratic institutions and rule of law.


27 August 2011

East Timor parliament approves change to Oil Fund Law

East Timor Legal News Source Macauhub AUGUST 26TH, 2011 Dili, East Timor, 26 Aug – The East Timor parliament Tuesday approved the first change to the country’s Oil Fund Law to allow greater flexibility and return on investments.

The change to the law approved by 34 votes in favour, three against and two abstentions, according to the document for the change of law to which Portuguese news agency Lusa had access.

“The current law aims to change the rules and principles of investment, allowing greater flexibility in terms of diversification of the portfolio of applications in order to increase, in the future, return on investments,” the document said. (macauhub)

Street Art from East Timor - A short film

These Walls Can Talk from Chris Phillips on Vimeo.

24 August 2011

Timor: Where Has All the Aid Gone?

By Guteriano Neves, June 20, 2011 - When Indonesia withdrew from Timor-Leste (TL) in 1999, governments all over the world expressed their sympathy for the Timorese. Donor governments promised to assist TL to build a viable state, with lasting peace and stability. Early on, the United States also committed to help TL move toward a democratic society. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently reiterated this commitment in her meeting with TL’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. The United States, she said, wants “to continue to provide U.S. support for this incredibly important transition and transformation.” Timorese, who have suffered from Indonesian military occupation and the double standards of the United States and other Western countries for 24 years, listened very carefully to this political rhetoric, hoping that the future of the children would be better.

After 11 years, the rhetoric is still the same. But the reality on the ground has not changed much.

Timor-Leste is one of the most oil-dependent countries in the world, where more than 90% of the government’s annual budget comes from petroleum revenues. It imports everything from computer hardware to bottled water. Its infrastructure is very poor, making it hard for local farmers to transport crops to markets. Local farmers must also compete with an influx of imported goods from Australia, Singapore, and other countries. Many Timorese are still struggling with poor healthcare, lack of educational opportunities, little clean water, and other insufficient social services. Social inequality is widening, especially between the capital Dili and other districts.

These social ills are partly the result of the fragility of TL’s public institutions and the legacy of colonialism. But foreign aid has also failed to deliver on its promise in Timor-Leste.

Missing Billions
Since 1999, Timor-Leste has received more than $5 billion. In 2009, Al Jazeera documented that each of the 1.1 million Timorese received $8,000 in aid between 1999 and 2009. This aid is given in various ways, depending on the context, donors’ policies, and international political economic circumstance. Between 1999 and 2001, most foreign aid went to resolve the humanitarian and emergency situation. However, from 2002-2006, according to Scantem Report, aid was focused on state-building through strengthening the capacity of state institutions and the delivery of core public services. The same report also reveals that 82 percent of total assistance was given through bilateral cooperation, 16 percent through the Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, and the rest went through other channels. TL’s President Jose Ramos Hortaonce said, "If this money is spent wisely, Timor-Leste would have been free from poverty."

On the contrary, aid in Timor-Leste has had little impact on the local economy, policy coherence, local community ownership, and long-term vision. According to Timor-Leste’s institute for reconstruction and development La’o Hamutuk, only one out of every ten dollars spent in Timor-Leste enters the local economy. Most of it leaves the country to pay for international consultants, imported goods from other countries, military operations, and so on.

The UN missions’ expenditure alone was more than $2 billion, and multilateral as well as bilateral donor projects cost around $1.7 billion. Most UN-paid international staff in Timor-Leste enjoy salaries 10 times that of Timorese staff. Two years ago, a local newspaper discovered that an Australian citizen was paid $215,153 by the World Bank for a one-year contract as an advisor in a ministry in Timor; this in a country where more than 50 percent of the population makes less than $2 dollar a day.

Not a new phenomenon, these defects replicate the foreign aid industry in other parts of the world. Professor William Easterly, in his book White Man’s Burden, succinctly argues that, “the West has failed, and continues to fail, to enact its ill-formed, utopian aid plans because, like the colonialists of old, it assumes it knows what is best for everyone.” Timor-Leste has been subjected to many studies about the ineffectiveness of aid in building a strong foundation for long-term peace and stability. Most agree that post-conflict countries like Timor-Leste require exceptional, and more importantly, country-specific remedies.

True, aid helps to strengthen existing public institutions. But long-term peace and stability requires more than that. It requires a strong foundation for sustainable economic development, rule of law, and good governance. Timor-Leste’s case is much more than that. As a World Bank report points out, Timor-Leste started with “the virtual absence of any administrative capacity in the territory, the extremely weak human resource base and its poverty.” Timor-Leste’s situation is also characterized by poor infrastructure and low economic capacity to absorb money spent inside the country. These are the legacies of colonialism and a quarter century of Indonesian military occupation.

U.S. Aid to Timor
Foreign aid to Timor-Leste comes principally from Australia, Japan, Portugal, the EU, the United States, and China. According to data from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States provided $272 million to Timor-Leste between 2000 and 2008. Of that, 41 percent went to support economic growth, 31 percent went to support governance, and the rest went to health and security. A small amount of U.S. aid also went to the Trust Fund for Timor-Leste managed by the World Bank to fund some physical reconstruction projects and community empowerment projects. The United States also provides some military assistance and budgetary support for the UN Peacekeeping Mission.

Support for economic growth and democratic governance are two strategic goals of U.S. foreign aid. Additional attention is given to health and sanitation. “Only through building good policies, stable institutions, and local capacity will developing countries create their own prosperity and assume responsibility for their own security," states the 2004 U.S. foreign aid White paper. "As a nation develops, it has less need for external aid to deal with disasters and conflict or to address disease pandemics and transnational crime. Stable, prosperous, democratic nations make better partners for the United States as they address their own interests from a foundation of interdependence. And, such countries offer growing opportunities for mutually beneficial trade and investment.”  U.S. long-term national security and economic interests thus intersect with Timorese dreams of having an independent state, a prosperous society, and a stable democracy.

However, the reality on the ground does not correspond with this policy statement. According to the USAID strategy paper economic prosperity is one of the strategic goals for the State Department and USAID in Timor-Leste, which they hope to accomplish by improving the business climate and improving the market through increased production and product diversification. This strategy assumes that the largest impediment to economic growth and increased employment and income in the private sector is an inadequate focus on agricultural and private sector development and growth. Based on this presumption, the United States has supported the TL government to implement reforms to enhance private sector development. In the agricultural sector, which accounts for 80 percent of the Timorese economy, the USAID approach is to help farmers compete in the “liberalized economy.”

Land Reform?
Another U.S. strategy has been to support the government’s policy on property rights. From the USAID’s view, "undervaluation of land" is one of many problems that developing countries like Timor-Leste face. Like the World Bank, the U.S. government believes that uncertainty surrounding land ownership is one of the main constraints on private investment. Therefore, USAID’s main strategy is to increase the value of land and make it more attractive.

One way of doing this has been to assist the Land and Property Directorate to establish legislation and policies on land dispute mediation, land registration, title restitution, and constitutional compliance. Another strategy is through theIta Nia Rai (Our land) program. Ironically, although USAID calls it “land reform,” this program is very different from the conventional understanding of land reform. Contrary to most land reform, which aims to redistribute land to landless peasants, USAID’s strategy does not. Instead, the land registration program only registers land claims. USAID believes that this registration process will increase the value of land and help attract private investment.

The land issue, which is very important and complex, sometimes becomes a source of inequality and conflict. Current land ownership is the legacy of colonialism and military occupation. During the colonial period, the local kings or people who cooperated with the colonial government pushed many people off their ancestral land and  then wrote this newly unequal dispensation into law. The violence that occurred in 1999 and 2006 also displaced people from their homes. As a result, the structure of land ownership is very unequal. To support a just and democratic society, the United States should help the Timorese government redistribute land rather than perpetuating the current inequality in land ownership.

Public versus Private
USAID’s long-term economic prescription heavily focuses on the private sector. To USAID, the Timorese government’s role is merely to create conditions for the private sector to flourish. The U.S. government has pursued similar strategies in many other post-conflict countries. These policy prescriptions will help make Timor-Leste dependent on foreign investment and an export-oriented economy. Instead of solving the structural problems of underdevelopment and economic backwardness rooted in TL's history, these U.S.-supported strategies merely cement social inequality, marginalize local economic actors, and reduce the state’s authority in this post-conflict country.

For a post-conflict country like Timor-Leste, public investment is essential for economic development. Timor-Leste needs massive public investment in important sectors like infrastructure, education, health, and agriculture. Public investment in productive sectors such as agriculture can help reduce Timor-Leste’s dependence on imported food such as rice. These are key factors for Timor-Leste’s future prospects. Historically, even developed countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan built their economies with strong public investment. Finally, for a newly independent state like Timor-Leste, public investment is also a means by which the state can expand its role and its legitimacy in the society through investments in education, health, infrastructure, social services, and productive sectors.

This emphasis on private rather the public investment has also translated into the current Timor-Leste government reducing taxes. The World Bank praisedTimor-Leste’s trade policy as “one of the most liberal trade policy regimes in the world.” This policy reduces the government’s domestic revenues and increases its dependence on oil exports. However, this is in conjunction with USAID’s approach, which is to encourage expansion of trade and investment through a free market system, a non-discriminatory investment regime, and access to bilateral and regional markets. Also, part of USAID’s mission is to work closely with the World Bank to improve the country’s business environment. But this “open trade policy” does more harm than good for Timorese economic actors. Timorese farmers are barely able to compete with the influx of imported goods from other countries, and they find themselves marginalized more and more within their own country. This strategy also increases Timor-Leste’s dependence on imported goods, especially from Indonesia.

The U.S. government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to help Timor-Leste become a democratic and prosperous society. But this aid has come with policy strategies that contradict U.S. rhetoric or lead to results that are unjust, undemocratic, and ultimately unhelpful for the majority of the people of Timor-Leste.

Guteriano Neves is an East Timorese activist and contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.
recommended citation: Guteriano Neves, "Timor: Where Has All the Aid Gone?" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, June 20, 2011
Timor Leste Land Law and Policy Information 

More violence rocks East Timor District of Lautem leaving 2 dead

East Timor Legal News 24/08/2011 Source: Indepedente 23 August 2011 language source: Tetun - Two killed and one wounded in a clash in Lautem Two groups engaged in a clash in Barikafa village, Luro sub district, the eastern district of Lautem.

The clash has left two men dead and one seriously wounded, a police officer said.

Police were dispatched to the scene in responding to the situation and were able to capture  two suspects, Deputy Commander of Lautem District, Antonio do Rego said.

These two suspects are currently being detained in the police detention center for investigation purposes, he said. Rego added that the police are still hunting down other suspects who are on the run.

The two dead bodies are now in Baucau hospital for autopsy.

Fourteen suspects in Zumalai violence locked up provisionally

East Timor Legal News 24/08/2011 Source: Diario Nacional 23 August 2011 language source: Tetun - Investigation Police Service (SIC) Commander Calisto Gonzaga said 14 suspects had been locked provisionally in Becora jail over the recent violence in Zumalai.

Gonzaga affirmed that these fourteen was held in Suai District Court and it decided to imprison them provisionally for further legal process.

These suspects were transported from Kovalima district on Monday (22/8) and are being detained in Becora, he said.

He added that the police continue holding investigations into the case for further legal proceedings and continue hunting down those who were still on the run.

Convicted Dili District administrator appeals against jail time

East Timor Legal News 23/08/2011 Source: Independente 23  August  2011 - Dili District Administrator Ruben Joao Braz wants to pay US$21,800 to the court instead of going to jail for corruption, his lawyer Manuel Soares said.

On August 6, the Dili District Court sentenced Braz to three and a half years in prison after the Public Prosecution accused him of using US $21, 800 in public funds for his own private interests in 2001.

Braz disagrees with the court's decision and has submitted an appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Soares said his client would pay back the UD $ 21, 800, but did not want to go to jail.:

23 August 2011

FRETILIN guarantees winning 60% in 2012 Parliamentary election

Fretilin Secretary-General Mari Alkatiri
East Timor Legal News 22/08/2011 Source: Timor Post (19/7/11) Dili - The General Secretary of FRETILIN party, Dr. Marí Alkatiri, guaranteed his party will win 60% in the Parliamentary general election in 2012. “Let us now prepare well for the third congress to look into the future because there is no doubt that we will win big in 2012 election. Our Meta is 60% and that if we achieve this, no other party can win 40%,” said Dr. Alkatiri at the party’s Dili District Conference.

The General Secretary urged the party militants to work hard to guarantee the 60% in the election. The ex-Prime Minister also affirmed that the present history of National Liberation was written by FRETILIN and other new parties in the country just take part in the liberation history. However, Mr. Alkatiri appealed to the party militants to open themselves to welcome new members because according to him, the party is not only party for the militants but FRETILIN is people who can rule other people in the country. Hence, there should not be discrimination, persecution and political hatred.

To rightly write the history, people have to be clear about who did fight for freedom because right now there are veterans who continuously suffer while others are receiving compensations. FRETILIN is really saddened by the situation because veterans exist because of FRETILIN. (TP) :

Kovalima District refuses to cooperate with ombudsman monitoring detention of Zumalai violence suspects

Human Rights & Justice Ombudsman Sebastiao diaz Ximenes
East Timor Legal News 22/08/2011 Source Diario Nacional 22 August 2011 language source: Tetun - The Timorese Human Rights and Justice Ombudsman Sebastiao diaz Ximenes said police in the district of Kovalima did not cooperate with his officers to investigate human rights violations in the district.

Ximenes said his officers' presence in Kovalima district was to monitor the detainees in the police detention center there, but unfortunately they could not get access to it.

"We are calling on all entities, including Kovalima district police to cooperate with our team," he said.

The ombudsman has phoned police commander in Kovalima, but there was no response, he said.

Government acts to close down martial art clubs

East Timor Legal News 22/08/2011 Source Suara Timor Lorosae 22 August 2011 language source: Tetun - Commission of Martial Arts Regulator (KRAM) decided on Friday (19/8) to close down martial art clubs in the districts.

The decision was made following the recent violence in Zumalai involving the local martial art clubs' members.

Acting President of KRAM Teofilho Thomas de Deus said starting from Monday (22/8) all martial art clubs' activities in the district were halted provisionally.

The commission will take a strong action against the martial art clubs if their members were found guilty, he said. :

22 August 2011

Police officer's dead body exhumed for judicial process

East Timor Legal News 22/08/2011 Source: Independente 22 August 2011 language source: Tetun - The Public Prosecution has authorised the Timorese National Police (PNTL) medical staff to exhume the grave of police officer Augusto "Teki" Diaz who was killed in the recent violence in Zumalai.

Teki Diaz was buried last Wednesday (17/8) in Metagau village, Bazartete district, the western district of Liquisa.

State Secretary for Security Francisco da Costa Guterres said the police had captured the suspects; therefore it was important to exhume the dead body for autopsy and for the sake of legal proceedings.

"The court authorised the exhumation Teki Diaz for autopsy, so that it could get a strong evidence for the legal charges," he said.

Alkatiri and Lu Olo expected to lead FRETILIN to 2012 general election

East Timor Legal News 22/08/2011 Source: Fretilin Media Release  Dili, 22 August, 2011 FRETILIN holds nation’s first party leadership ballot - FRETILIN has become Timor-Leste’s only political party to hold a national secret and direct vote by all members for top leadership positions.

A very high proportion of the 156,500 registered party members cast ballots for party President and General Secretary last Saturday, August 20. 

FRETILIN rules adopted in 2006, required a ballot even though the only nominations received this year are from the incumbents –party President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo, a former President of the National Parliament, and party General Secretary and former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

FRETILIN Assistant Secretary General Jose Reis, who is also President of the party’s Election Organizing Preparations Committee, said today the August 20 ballot paper gave members the option of rejecting candidates even though they were unopposed.

“Members could have chosen to tick a blank box instead of a box alongside the candidates’ names,” Mr Reis said.

“Also, if the number of votes cast on August 20 failed to reach a quota, candidates would have face a ballot at the national congress.  Preliminary results of the nationwide count indicate a higher than expected turnout of about 150,000 of the registered members, and that the incumbents will be re-elected with a massive vote in their favour,” he said.

“FRETILIN’s 2006 national congress decided that our rules should require that even unopposed candidates be democratically endorsed or rejected by the rank and file.

“We think all Timorese parties should follow FRETILIN by holding secret direct elections for their leaders.”

Mr Reis said the August 20 vote would took place at over 700 polling stations in every “suco” (an administrative division made up of several villages) in every district throughout the country, without incident.  This included a full turnout of voters, in absolutely peaceful conditions in the sub-district of Zumalai, where last week a policeman was killed and nearly 100 homes burnt down during violence between rival youth groups.

Over 5,000 party volunteers participated as election officials and monitors.  The FRETILIN election was followed by observers from Indonesian and Mozambican political parties, national political parties as well as national and international NGOs, United Nations staff, Timor-Leste’s National Elections Commission and STAE (The Technical Secretariat for Elections Support). 

The results of the elections will be officially announced on 4 September next.

Doubts about judicial independence as Chief Judge Ximenes meets with President Ramos Horta

Claudio Ximenes, Chief Judge of East Timor
East Timor Legal News 19/08/2011 Source: Timor Post 19/08/2011 - The President of the Court of Appeal, Claudio Ximenes, has held a meeting with President Jose Ramos Horta to report to the president about his work, the processing of criminal cases and the recent violence in Zumalai.

"I met with the president to inform him about the general situation on the courts' work," Ximenes said.

Ximenes said based on the legal procedures, the police should make an application to the Public Prosecutor for the issuing of warrants of arrest to capture the offenders who burnt down the residents' houses.

Legal proceedings for the case are very important as they burnt down the innocent people's houses, he said.

In a separate report by Diario National on 19/08/2011, the chief judge called on the Timorese people to stay away from violence and to strengthen national unity to move forward with the country's development.

Ximenes also expressed his sympathy and solidarity with local residents who had lost their homes and properties. "I am very sad because many people have lost their homes and properties in the clash," he said.

He called on the police to capture the suspects who were believed to have been engaged in burning the residents' house.

The judicial system should not only be independent from the other organs of the state such as those represented by the executive power, in this case, the President, but it should also be seen to be independent and impartial.

It strikes an odd note that the Chief Judge should hold a meeting with the President to inform him of the condition of the courts - or to discuss any other matter. Any communications should go through the Court's officials.

It is not appropriate, in a state based on the democratic principle of the separation of powers, that the Chief Executive should hold a meeting with the Chief Judicial officer.

They should remain at arm's lenghth at all times and should appear to be at arm's length on all matters at all times.

As Article 121(2) of the Constitution of East Timor provides:

"In performing their functions, judges are independent and owe obedience only to the Constitution, the law and to their own conscience."

The judges do not owe obedience to any other organ of sovereignty; namely, the President or the Parliament. 

Furthermore, Article 122 of the Constitution provides that the Courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law. They are not subject to any other authority whatsoever.

One of the reasons for this is that the President signs off on laws enacted by the Parliament but it is the function of the Court to decide constitutionality of those laws so any appearance of an inappropriate relationship between the President and the Chief Judicial officer should be a matter of some concern.

There may be extraordinary circumstances where it might be appropriate for the judges to meet with members of the executive such as in times of constitutional crisis but even if any meetings are of an entirely neutral nature, the principle that the judiciary must remain aloof from any political or social debate is undermined.

It is essential for the continued public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary which is a fundamental constitutional principle of the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary.

Public confidence in the constitutional order can only be  maintained where that principle is strictly observed at all times, particularly by those who have the privilege of heading the judiciary.

In the common law tradition, it would be entirely inappropriate for judges to meet with members of the executive or the legislature. As Home Secretary Charles Clarke of the United Kingom, for example, stated:

    "I have been frustrated at the inability to have general conversations of principle with the law lords ... because of their sense of propriety.

    "I do find that frustrating. I have never met any of them. I think there is a view that it's not appropriate to meet in terms of their integrity.

And that should be the case also in any aspiring democracy.

The President of the Parliament has also recently criticised the court's decisions. That is also entirely inappropriate.

Both of these manifestations - meetings between the executive and the judiciary and criticisms of the courts by the parliamentary leadership - that emasculate the independence and impartiality of the courts should not go unnoticed by those striving for the rule of law and democracy in East Timor.

East Timor disbands pro-independence armed unit

East Timor Legal News Source: AFP  - DILI, East Timor ­ East Timor on Saturday officially disbanded pro-independence armed unit Falintil who had fought against Indonesian occupation of the country for more than two decades.

"Today in a military ceremony and parade, the Timor Leste government has symbolically disbanded armed wing Falintil which for 24 years was... in the forests to fight for Timor Leste's independence," President Jose Ramos-Horta said, using to the country's formal name.

"They are admirable and brave warriors, have strong faith, and did not think a lot about... risks. They (survived) from one year to another to sing the dream of independence," Ramos-Horta said.

The government honoured 236 men and women from the armed wing at the ceremony, which was also attended by several officials from Indonesia.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was occupied by Indonesia for 24 years from 1975, a period marked by widespread human rights abuses leading to the deaths of up to 200,000 people.

The tiny nation gained formal independence in 2002 after winning its freedom in a 1999 UN-backed referendum marred by violence.

A reconciliation commission established jointly by East Timor and Indonesia found in 2008 that while gross human rights were committed by Indonesian forces, there should be no more trials and no further arrests.

East Timor has a wealth of energy resources but remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, with most people dependent on foreign aid.
ETLJB Editor's Note See also The Function and Role of the Armed Forces in National Defence on the East Timor Law Journal which includes a discussion of the name FALINTIL in the East Timor Defence Force's official title and the problems that generated.

21 August 2011

Media in East Timor: Free and independent?

Palacio do Governo, Dili, East Timor
21/08/2011 East Timor Legal News Source: Reporters without Borders  This is a relatively old story dating back to 2005 but we have decided to republish it here on ETLJB as a matter of record and an insight into the position of the free media in East Timor at that time. Suara Timor Lorosae (The Voice of Timor Lorosae - a combination of the old Indonesian word for "voice" and the Tetum name of "East Timor"; "Timor-Leste" as in the official Portuguese version) is a prominent and widely read daily newspaper.

3 March 2005 - Reporters Without Borders said it was dismayed by government harassment of privately-owned daily newspaper Suara Timor Lorosae aimed at bringing it into line, after it reported on famine deaths denied by Dili.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has taken a series of steps against the paper over several weeks, imposing a boycott, stopping government advertising and banning its journalists from attending official press conferences.

He has also attempted to have the newspaper evicted from its offices. President Xanana Gusmao has offered  himself as a mediator.

"The boycott and threats against privately-owned publications are methods that are unworthy of a democratic government," said the worldwide press freedom organisation in a letter to Alkatiri.

"We urge you to put an end to all the restrictions imposed on Suara Timor Lorosae".

The prime minister imposed an indefinite boycott on the paper on 23 February. Members of the government and officials were ordered to break all contact with the daily's journalists, not to buy it and not to read it. Its journalists were banned from attending official press conferences.

The prime minister also incited people to stop buying the paper. Portuguese news agency Lusa reported him as justifying the boycott by saying, "We have the right to maintain relations with the serious and independent press but not with propagandists who have no objectivity."

The Land and Property department on 3 February ordered the paper's management to quit within 60 days offices they have occupied in Dili since 1993. This was "an impossible deadline to meet" said deputy publiser and editor in chief Domingos Saldanha, who wondered why the government wanted to recover the building when "there are plenty of empty buildings in the capital".

It was all the more surprising since the daily had proposed a deal, following an earlier eviction threat in September 2003, under which it would pay rent to the state. According to Saldanha, Sergio Viera de Mello, former UN representative in Timor, had suggested reconstruction of the building that had been devastated by pro-Indonesian militia in 1999. The daily resumed publication nine months later, in June 2000, and President Gusmao even attended the inauguration of the premises, rebuilt with international aid.

This harassment of the oldest and biggest-selling daily in East Timor is apparently mainly due to the publication of an article, quoting a local official, on the deaths from famine of 53 people in Ainaro district.

The government in Dili denies the famine deaths. Domingos Saldanha said the prime minister had called him on the phone to complain to him about these "lies".

Two months earlier, Mari Alkatiri threatened the newspaper's management after it published statements from a social-democrat politician criticising the sending of aid to tsunami victims.

Saldanha said this was a violation of press freedom. "A prime minister should not telephone a journalist to express his discontent as Mari Alkatiri does." The journalist was received by President Xanana G usmao whoproposed himself as mediator.

On the other hand, the speaker of parliament, Francisco Guterres, was pictured on the front page of the 1st March edition of Suara Timor Lorosae next to two of the paper's journalists. He said it was contrary to the constitution to boycott a newspaper.

The paper's management believes the problems have been partly caused by language problems. "The articles that have caused trouble recently have been published in Indonesian. The prime minister does not speak that language and must have a bad translator", said Domingos Saldanha. The newspaper is produced in four languages : Tetun, Indonesian, Portuguese and English.

The boycott has had far-reaching financial consequences for the newspaper, which has a circulation of 1,500. The management estimates monthly losses at more than 1,500 euros but Saldanha said that he would not give way to pressure, "wherever it comes from."

This harassment comes at a time when a number of voices have been raised to draw attention to the country's poor governance. The bishop of Dili, Dom Alberto Ricardo da Silva, recently said that the country was suffering from corruption and a lack of openness and the Timorese Nobel peace prize laureat, Carlos Ximense Belo, has
publicly expressed his concern about the famine problem.

20 August 2011

Parliamentary President criticises the Courts saying house arrest for serious crime benefits perpetrators

President of the East Timor Parliament, Lasama
East Timor Legal News Source: Radio Timor-Leste 18 August 2011 - Parliamentary President Fernando Lasama Araujo said the house arrest which was recently handed down by the court benefited serious crime perpetrators by not deterring them from commiting more acts of crime in the future.

Lasama was referring to court decisions on a number of serious crimes committed which sometimes did not make people feel satisfied. 

Lasama affirmed that house arrest was not considered a strong penalty for the offenders and it had not made them afraid of the sanction given. 

"The case is actually a serious one, but what happen then, these people are only sentenced to a house arrest. 

If the verdict handed down is not strong enough then they will continue burning down the innocent people's houses," he said.

Suara Timor Lorosae

East Timor Legal News 20/08/2011 Suara Timor Lorosae (The Voice of East Timor) is one of the leading daily newspapers in East Timor.

Translations of reports in this newspaper are one of the principle sources of legal news published on the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin.

We have noticed that ETLJB is also one of the top Google search results for the key words "Suara Timor Lorosae" even though we have only one post with the name of the paper on our blog.

To assist searchers who are looking for the Suara Timor Lorosae web site, we have decided to include this post on ETLJB with a link to the actual site for the paper.

We hope in this way to support the efforts of Suara Timor Lorosae as part of the free media in East Timor.

Accordingly, here is the link to the Suara Timor Lorosae web site (http://suara-timor-lorosae.com/home). Unfortunately, the paper is only available in the Tetum language.

19 August 2011

Meeting of the Council of Ministers approves new laws

East Timor Legal News 19/08/2011Source: Government of East Timor Council of Ministers Meeting of August 17, 2011 IV CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT OF STATE OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS PRESS RELEASE

Council of Ministers meeting of August 17, 2011

This Wednesday, August 17, 2011, the Council of Ministers met at the Council of Ministers' meeting room in the Government Palace, Dili, and approved:

1. Decree-Law that approves the Fifth Amendment to the Procurement Legal Regime

The Decree-Law approved today allows strategic infrastructure projects, costing less than $ 1 million dollars, to be financed by the Infrastructure Fund whereas before, only infrastructure projects with the minimum amount of is 1 million dollars could be paid from this fund.

2. Decree-Law to Amend the PNTL Salary Legal Regime

The Council of Ministers approved the amendment to the Decree-Law that created the Leadership and Management Supplement, which applies to officials who exercise the functions at the General Command, so that other officers from other units, which perform the same functions, can enjoy the same benefits.

3. Decree Law on the Use of Force

The police forces and public safety services are the main bodies for the protection of freedom and human rights and only they are allowed the use of force against another illegal or illegitimate force. Therefore, they need legal mechanisms which, in exceptional circumstances, recognize their power of using force.

In this sense there is a need for clarification of the rules and conditions under which cases there is room to use such means so that they are not used arbitrarily, subverting the nature of public security purposes.

The Council of Ministers approved the Decree-Law that aims to respond to this need and adapt legislation to the legal principles of international law and domestic law, establishing the limits beyond which it is considered that unlawful infringement of the fundamental rights and freedoms rights of citizens has occurred.

4. Government Resolution adopting the National Action Program for Adaptation to Climate Change

The National Action Program for Climate Change Adaptation (PANA) was approved, in accordance with the IV Constitutional Government's program, which considers the environmental area as essential and indispensable to the country's sustainable development strategy and the promotion of the quality of life of timorese citizens.

PANA is intended to make the country more resilient to climate change through measures focusing on reducing the adverse effects thereof and the promotion of the development and sustainable use of natural resources.

5. Decree-Law that alters the Fourth Amendment to Decree-Law No. 15/2008 of 4 June, that regulates the Pension of Combatants and Martyrs of the National Liberation

The amendment adopted by the Council of Ministers allows for the regulation of back payments in regards to the pensions of Combatants and Martyrs of the National Liberation, as discussed in the National Parliament during the State Budget discussion, which resulted in increasing the budget of the Transferences Fund for this purpose.

This Decree-Law also amends the right to a Survivor's Pension, as provided for in Law No. 3 / 2006 of April 12, since it comes to ensure the support of minors in case of death of the holder of the preferred pension, that is, in the case of the death of the Martyr's spouse.

The Council of Ministers also analyzed the following:

1. Statement by the Palestinian Ambassador to New Zealand, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu

Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian Ambassador to New Zealand, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, was at the Council of Ministers meeting where he made a brief statement on the negotiations that Palestine and Israel have had to achieve peace, a process that, according to Ambassador Abdulhadi, has failed due to lack of direct involvement of the international community. The Council of Ministers appreciated the intervention and will examine the most appropriate ways to support Palestine.

2. IT Security

The Ministry of Finance brought to the Council of Ministers Meeting the issue of security of the Government network. Security was addressed with respect to the equipment itself and the data that each contains, alerting to potential viruses and the various ways they can enter the system.

3. Draft Law on the Children's Code

The Draft Law on the Childrenss Code, that the Ministry of Justice presented today at the Meeting of Council of Ministers, was based on norms and principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and two Optional Protocols on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, which were ratified by Timor-Leste in 2003.

The members of the Council of Ministers discussed this draft law to establish and regulate the rights and freedoms of the child, who is under the jurisdiction of Timor-Leste and to establish a national system of protection, helping to strengthen an uplifting and supportive environment, safe and protective of the child.

4. Proposal for a Legislative Authorization Act on the Special Criminal Regime for Youth

The Ministry of Justice has made known to the Council of Ministers of a proposal for a Special Criminal Regime for Youth which promotes a more rapid legislative process, while guaranteeing respect for the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens under criminal law.

5. Mining / Cement Manufacturing Complex & Private Port Investment Project

The Ministry of Economy and Development brought to the Council of Ministers Meeting the Mining / Production of Cement Complex and Private Port Investment Project in Manatuto. In the presentation of this project investment and logistics of the project were discussed, as well as Capital gains and the impact on the environment.

The Timor Chapter of Wallace's The Malay Archipelago 1869

Wallace;s map of the Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago (Alfred Wallace) Timor Chapter

18 August 2011

East Timor Legal News 17 August 2011

Map showing location of Cova Lima District, East Timor
MP calls for closing down martial art clubs
Radio Timor-Leste - MP Natalino do Santos from the CNRT Party has called on the Government to close down martial art clubs that always get involved in acts of violence in the country. MP dos Santos made the comments during a plenary session yesterday regarding the recent martial art clubs clash in Zumalai in the District of Kovalima. Martial art clubs have destroyed the Timorese people's lives and should not continue existing as the country's people want to remain calm. "I think such violent actions should not be tolerated and we should make a decision to close them down," he said. According to him, the martial art clubs which should continue their activities are those that contribute to the country's development.

Youths call on State Secretary for Security to produce law for martial arts
Timornewsline - A young man from Kaikoli, Anastacio da Costa, has called on the State Secretariat of State to produce a law for martial arts to regulate and sanction them."Hopefully, the State Secretariat of Security can produce a law for martial arts as soon as possible to regulate the martial art clubs." "As acts of violence in the country are mostly committed by the martial arts members," Da Costa said. The Government through the State Secretariat of Youths and Sports has drafted law for martial arts and is still being socialized in the communities. ETLJB Editor's Note: See Law 10/2008 The Practice of Martial Arts 

MPs condemn violence in Zumalai
Suara Timor Lorosae - MPs in the Parliament have strongly condemned the recent violence which has left a police officer, who is also ex-guerilla independence fighter, dead. Teki Diaz was killed during a martial art clubs clash which took place on Sunday (14/8) in Zumalai. Parliamentary President Fernando Lasama de Araujo said he was very concerned about the clash and called for an investigation into the case for legal proceedings. In regard to the case, Lasama has contacted Kovalima district administrator and other local authorities to follow the situation in the area.

Lasama is concerned about murder of police officer in Zumalai
Televizaun Timor-Leste - The Parliamentary President Fernando Lasama de Araujo is concerned about the recent murder of a police officer in Zumalai, the southern district of Kovalima. Lasama called on the Timorese National Police (PNTL) in the area to restore the situation and take the criminals to the court for legal proceedings. "I am concerned about this situation. PNTL officers and the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) soldiers have been deployed in the area to restore situation. "I am calling on the local residents to cooperate with them. I am also calling on the courts and prosecutors to pay attention to this case to process the criminals who have killed Teki Dias and his brother in-law," Lasama said. Diaz was attacked and stabbed to his chest and died at the scene during the recent clash involving martial art clubs in Zumalai.

Alkatiri concerned about Kovalima case
Suara Timor Lorosae - Fretilin Secretary-General Mari Alkatiri said he was concerned about the recent acts of violence in the village of Galitas, Zumalai sub district, the southern district of Kovalima. He called on the competent authorities to hold an investigation into the case to uncover the cause of the clash. This case should be investigated and should be processed legally in the courts, Alkatiri said. Timor-Leste is under the rule of law; therefore the state should seek a solution to resolve this case, he said. According to the Government's report, more than ten houses were set on fire, while the UN's report stated five houses were burnt and another source said more than 70 houses were set on fire.

State has right to use force to stop violence: Alkatiri
Televizaun Timor-Leste - The Constitution of Timor-Leste states that the state has absolute rights to use force to stop violence, says Secretary of General of Fretili. Mari Alkatiri said Fretilin was concerned about the current situation in Kovalima because the there were many local residents who had become victims because their houses were destroyed. He stressed that the state should use force to stop such acts of violence. "The state has a legitimate right to use force to stop violence and this is outlined in the law and constitution." "If the state does not do this then it is total anarchy. This is not a dictatorship but democracy does not mean all people can do what they want and commit violence." "When committing crimes means we breach the law. It is important to hold an investigation into the case to uncover what the motive is. The criminals should be taken to the courts and this case should be resolved trough the legal process," Alkatiri said. He also called on all the people to put hands together to move forward with the country's national development. 

Police set up five security posts in Zumalai
Radio Timor-Leste - Kovalima district police has set up five security posts in Zumalai to prevent another act of violence in the area, Kovalima District Police Deputy Commander, Inacio Santos said. The five security posts were set up to help provide security for the local residents in the area so that they could remain clam after the recent clash, he said. Santos said Kovalima police is being boosted by Ainaro and Manufahi police, and the special police force. The police have captured a number of people who are suspected of being engaged in killing a police officer during the clash. He added that the police have identified the suspect who killed the police officer and are waiting for an arrest warrant from the court.

F-FDTL deployed in Kovalima: Gusmao
Diario Nacional - Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao who is also minister for defence and security has called on the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) to help support the national police in restoring order in Zumalai. Gusmao made the call regarding the recent clash involving martial art clubs in Zumalai in the western District of Kovalima. State Secretary for Defence should take a necessary action to deploy F-FDTL soldiers in the area, he said. In response, State Secretary for Defence Julio Thomas Pinto said F-FDTL had already deployed in Zumalai to help support PNTL officers there.

PNTL calls for F-FDTL support
Suara Timor Loro Sae - The Timorese National Police (PNTL) has called on the Timorese National Defence Force to help support them in restoring order in the villages in Kovalima after violence  broke out in the area. Speaking to journalists, State Secretary for Defecse Julio Thomas Pinto said they had deployed F-FDTL soldiers in the area to help support the police. "We have a big problem in Zumalai. Our police could not respond to the situation alone." "Therefore PNTL has officially requested F-FDTL to help restore the situation. F-FDTL soldiers are now there," he said. He added that F-FDTL and PNTL should help support each other if similar cases appear in the country.

Police and defence force secure Kovalima sub villages
Independente - Calm has been restored to two sub villages in Kovalima district after a violent weekend conflict that left a Timorese National Police (PNTL) officer killed and a civilian in hospital. On Sunday night, hours after the clash between martial art clubs, 70 houses were burnt down in the sub villages of Tasilin and Galitas in the sub district of Jumalai. PNTL Operational Commander Eugenio Pereira said the residents who had lost their houses were staying in the local church and school buildings. Pereira said the a Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) and PNTL team arrived on Monday (15/8) to secure the sub villages, with help from Bobonaro and Ainaro District Police. Police will search for the offenders after the situation has been normalised, Pereira said.

PNTL deploys special force to hunt down offenders
Diario Nacional - The Timorese National Police (PNTL) Operational Commander Eugenio Pereira said PNTL had deployed a special police force team to hunt down the offenders who burnt down the local residents' houses on Sunday night. "Yesterday I coordinated with special police commander to intervene into the case based on the PNTL commander's instruction," he said. Pereira affirmed that the special police force officers were on board Australian Defence Force's black hawk helicopters to Zumalai to restore order. PNTL is also supported by the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) soldiers and are now in the villages of Zumalai.
Government to purchase 500 guns for F-FDTL
Independente - According to the plan, the Government is going to purchase 500 high-powered guns to the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL), State Secretary for Defence, Julio Thomas Pinto said. In response, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said he agreed with the proposed weapon purchase, but should purchase first 250 this year and the remaining 250 could be purchased next year. Gusmao made the comments during a budget review discussion on Tuesday (16/8), in Dili. "It is better for you to buy 250 weapons first and next year you can buy other 205," PM Gusmao said. According to Gusmao, the numbers of weapons to be purchased should be reduced to 2050 this year as the Government prefers using the budget for the Government's top priorities.

Gusmao rejects budget for purchasing ships for police
Suara Timor Lorosae - Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has rejected the state budget for purchasing a ship for the Timorese Maritime Police as there is no port for ship to be at anchor. There is no port for the ship; therefore no need for Maritime Police to purchase a ship, he said. Gusmao was responding to the Maritime Police Commander, Lino Saldanha's request, asking the Government to purchase a ship for them.

AMP should not hide from justice, says Alkatiri
Timornewsline  - Secretary General of Fretilin Party, Mari Alkatiri said the Parliamentary Majority alliance (AMP) Government should not hide from justice, as this was not good in a democratic country. Alkatiri was referring to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's recent statement saying justice in Timor-Leste is like justice in the colonial time and a dictatorship regime. Alktiri also said Gusmao's comment seemed to be a self-defence and defence for the Government officials who are facing legal charges. Alkatiri added such comments were not good for the rule of law and justice in the country, as all policies are made to be responsible for cooperating with justice not against the justice. "For me he is trying to defend himself and his Government officials who are currently facing legal charges," Alkatiri sid. He added the Government officials should be ready to face investigation regarding corruption within the Government institutions.

17 August 2011

Suspect in corruption case is sentenced to 3 years jail and ordered to pay compensation of USD 21,800 to the State

Dili District Court
East Timor Legal News 17/08/2011 Source Judicial System Monitoring Programme Press Release Period : August 2011 Edition : 05 August 2011 - On 4 August 2011, the Dili District Court conducted a hearing to hear the final decision in a case of corruption registered as case number: 364/C.Ord/2009/TDD. This case relates to the misuse of authority and corruption committed by the defendant RJB against the State of Timor-Leste in 2002.

The hearing was led by a panel comprising Judge Joao Ribeiro (presiding) and judges Antonio Fonseca and Jose Gonçalves. The Public Prosecution Service was represented by Domingos Barreto, and the defendant was represented by Public Defender Manuel Sarmento.

The Executive Director of JSMP, Luis Oliveira de Sampaio, stated that the court has demonstrated another important step forward, by deciding to sentence the defendant for trying to use his public authority for private interests or for personal gain. Therefore, the court should be praised for its achievement and at the same time this should give encouragement to everyone to support their work and continue their commitment to strengthen the justice sector and fulfill their obligations in accordance with the spirit of the law and the Constitution.

“JSMP believes that this decision also shows the public that all citizens are equal before the law, as set out in Article 16 of the Constitution”.

Based on the decision of the court, the defendant was found guilty of misusing his authority and committing corruption in 2002, by providing and renting out diesel equipment belonging to the State to other persons for his own personal interests. His actions caused the State to lose US $ 21,400.

Therefore, the court concluded that the defendant violated Article 2 of Law No. 31/1999 (Indonesian Anti-Corruption Law), as well as Articles 372 and 374 of the Indonesian Penal Code to benefit himself and his family as well as using State equipment for personal gain by exercising his authority, which constitutes the crime of embezzlement pursuant to the Indonesian Penal Code.

However, after examining and considering all of the circumstance and facts the court decided to apply Articles 372 and 374 of the Indonesian Penal Code that carry a sentence of 4-5 years imprisonment, rather than applying Law No.31/1999 on Anti-Corruption which carries a sentence of 11 years imprisonment.

Based on the facts and legal options available, the court sentenced the defendant to three years and six months imprisonment and ordered him to pay compensation to the State totaling US $ 21,800.

Even though JSMP welcomes this decision, JSMP still urges the court to overcome all psychological hurdles and sentence those who commit corruption with more adequate punishments that reflect the severity of the act committed to educate and urge public servants to fulfill their oath to serve the people and the interests of the people.

Even though JSMP is certain that the court’s decision is not the only solution to guarantee good governance and to avoid corrupt practices in the future, the court’s decision is an important part of other efforts to educate the public that corruption is a crime and any person who commits or is involved in such practices will be held accountable before the courts.

JSMP is also concerned that the decision was only read out in Portuguese and no interpretation into Tetum was provided during the hearing. JSMP observed that the majority of those present did not have a good understanding of the process.

JSMP continues to urge the court to pursue whatever means possible to provide interpretation of all decisions announced by the court, because all final decisions announced by the court are open to the public.

JSMP believes an important part of upholding transparency and public accountability is ensuring that the announcements of decisions are open to the public. The public is fully entitled to be able to understand and to ascertain the credibility of matters relating to the public interest. This can only occur if the public understand the language being used by the court.

Therefore, JSMP continues to encourage and insist that court decisions MUST be provided in a language that can be understood by most citizens.

For further information please contact to: Luis de Oliveira Sampaio Executive Director JSMP Email: luis@jsmp.minihub.org Landline: (+670) 3323883/7295795

ETLJB Editor's Note on Language and the Law in East Timor
This case reminds us of the problems of language and the law in East Timor. Under the Constitution, the official languages of East Timor are Portuguese and Tetum. But laws enacted by the Parliament and the Government are, when they are published at all, usually only published in the Portuguese language.

Other legislation requires that new laws be published in both of the official languages but this is not implemented as it should.

The practical problem is posed by the fact that less than 10% of the population of East Timor can understand Portuguese. In this regard, the Court's holding that the principle of legal certainty requires that ..legislation must allow those concerned to acquaint themselves with the precise extent of the obligations it imposes upon them, which may be guaranteed only by the proper publication of that legislation in the official language of those to whom it applies, is of particular relevance to the legal system of East Timor.

The most curious thing is that because new laws are not published and publicised in a language that is understood by the vast majority of the population, the principle of legal certainty has not found expression in the new legal system of East Timor notwithstanding the constitutional imperatives and the interventions and support of public and private international law and justice agencies since independence in 2002.

Legal certainty is one of the indispensable conditions for the effective rule of law, which has disintegrated several times since the restoration of independence with catastrophic and enduring consequences for the civil peace, political stability and democracy.

See also On the use of Portuguese in the National Parliament of East Timor

Houses razed in East Timor mob rampage

East Timor national police (AFP/File, Candido Alves)
East Timor Legal News Source: AAP August 15, 2011 10:41PM - ANGRY mobs of martial arts gang members set fire to dozens of homes as they rampaged through an East Timorese town after one of their number was killed in a stabbing, police said.

More than 100 houses as well as vehicles caught fire in the unrest in Zumalai, on East Timor's southern coast on Monday, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He said the violence was "triggered" by the stabbing of a gang member, who was also a police intelligence agent, in the town yesterday.

"Three people are now in police custody. The security condition there is now under control," the police source said.

A military source who also refused to be identified confirmed the circumstances of the unrest.

Martial arts gangs are common in East Timor, a tiny half-island state which achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002 following a bloody referendum.

United Nations police returned full control of East Timor to the national force in March, more than four years after clashes between rival factions of the security forces threatened to push the country into civil war.

The UN will maintain a presence of up to 1,280 police to support local police until after a presidential election in 2012, when the UN peacekeeping mission plans to withdraw from the southeast Asian state.

16 August 2011

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