25 May 2012

Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Timor-Leste


Head of state
José Manuel Ramos-Horta

Head of government
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes

1.2 million

Life expectancy
62.5 years

Under-5 mortality
56.4 per 1,000

Adult literacy
50.6 per cent

Perpetrators of gross human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor (1975-1999) remained at large. There were reports of human rights violations, including ill-treatment, by security forces. Levels of domestic violence remained high.


In February, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste by another year. That same month, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visited Timor-Leste. In October, the country’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review. Several states noted that perpetrators of human rights violations had gone unpunished. Timor-Leste agreed to consider calls from five states to implement recommendations made by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).


Impunity for human rights violations persisted despite ongoing investigations by the Serious Crimes Investigation Team. Victims, their families and Timorese NGOs continued to call for justice for human rights violations committed by Indonesian security forces between 1975 and 1999. Nevertheless, the government continued to promote reconciliation with Indonesia at the expense of justice. The majority of those accused of human rights violations were believed to be at large in Indonesia.
In July, Valentim Lavio, a former Besi Merah Putih militia member, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment by the Dili District Court. He was charged with murder as a crime against humanity committed in the aftermath of the 1999 independence referendum. His appeal was rejected on 26 September. However, by the end of the year the authorities confirmed that he was still free and had fled to Indonesia.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Provedor (Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice) and the Indonesian Human Rights Commission on the implementation of recommendations of the CAVR and the joint Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) lapsed in January and was renewed in November. No progress was reported (see Indonesia entry).

A debate on two draft laws establishing a National Reparations Programme and an “Institute for Memory”, mandated to implement recommendations of the CAVR and CTF, had yet to take place by the end of the year after parliament postponed it in February.

Police and security forces

In March, the UN handed full responsibility for police operations in the country to the Timor-Leste National Police Force. There were reports of human rights violations, including ill-treatment, committed by police and military officers.

Violence against women and girls

Domestic violence cases were prosecuted in the courts, as per the 2010 Law Against Domestic Violence. However, levels of such violence remained high, and some cases continued to be resolved through traditional justice mechanisms which restricted access to justice for victims.

Country Reports

Timor-Leste: Justice delayed, justice denied – Amnesty International submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, October 2011

Country Visits

Amnesty International delegates visited Timor-Leste in February and November.

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