31 August 2012

Battle against corruption continues in Timor-Leste

East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin 31/08/2012 - Efforts to combat corruption in East Timor continue with the Anti-Corruption Commission having filed 142 cases of allegations of corrupt conduct by state officials that were reported by members of the public.

Timor Post reported yesterday that the Anti-Corruption Deputy Commissioner Jose Antonio said that between 2010 and 2011, 103 cases had been filed while another 39 cases had been filed in the first six months of 2012.

Deputy Commissioner Antonio added that of the cases that had been investigated by the ACC, some had been submitted to the Public Prosecutor to determine whether to commence court proceedings.

Radio Timor-Leste also reports that Deputy Commissioner Jose Neves has said that the ACC would continue the investigations of allegations of corruption involving some former Ministers and former Secretaries of State of the previous Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) government that was in power from 2007 until 2012.  Thirty cases involving officials of the AMP government had been investigated so far this year.

In one such case, the ACC had summoned the former Deputy Minister for Education, Mr Paulo Assis, to provide testimony to the Commission in relation to all physical projects implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the 5 year term of the AMP government. Radio Televizaun de Timor-Leste reported that the former Minister had appeared at the ACC to give evidence about projects that had not been completed.

After providing his testimony to the ACC, Mr Assis refused to make any comment but according to an unnamed source, he testified as a suspect in an abuse of power allegation in a project that was known as Educational Television.

The ACC will also summon the former Minister for Education, Mr Joao Cancio Freitas, to provide evidence to the Commission.

In the meantime, Transparency International (TI) which is a global coalition of agencies combating corruption, has stated its support for the efforts of the President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak to fight corruption.

Timor Post reported yesterday that the Director of the Asia Pacific branch of TI, Srirak Plipat and a delegation from Germany (along with Christopher Henry Samson, the Director of anti-corruption NGO LABEH*), met with the President to discuss corruption in the country.

Mr. Plipat said he was happy that the President had prioritised the problem of corruption and would discuss ways to combat it.

Written by Warren L. Wright, Editor, ETLJB

ETLJB Editor's Note: It is a little ironic that Mr Samson was part of the meeting with the President because he stands convicted by the Dili District Court of having falsified documents to gain East Timorese citizenship. He has appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal which is yet to decide the appeal.

Related stories
KAK investigates six corruption cases 
KAK investigates Abilio Lima 
KAK contacts Finance Minister
Anti-Corruption Commission applies for house arrest of Justice Minister Lobato 
Prosecutor General investigates 40 corruption cases
Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture ready to appear in court on corruption allegations 
PDHJ will hand over ten corruption cases to Public Prosecution including alleged corruption in Justice Ministry  
There are many more reports regarding corruption in East Timo on the ETLJB We recommend the Custom Google Search engine in the left side bar to search for more reports.

29 August 2012

Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers 25 - 26 August 2012

East Timor Legal News 29/08/2012 ETLJB - The V Constitutional Government met this weekend on August 25 and 26, 2012, at the Noble Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, in Díli and approved the Program of the V Constitutional Government.

After reviewing the draft Program of the V Constitutional Government made at previous meetings, the Council of Ministers returned to thoroughly review the 72 page document and introduced necessary amendments suggested by the holders of each post in order to enhance the document that will guide the work of the government until 2017.

The Program of the V Constitutional Government will continue to implement the programs and reforms that were proved successful by the IV Constitutional Government and is also based on the Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030 that is the result of an extensive public consultation throughout the national territory and approved by the National Parliament in July 2011.

The Government Program provides a roadmap for the country's development over the next five years, listing what needs to be done in the short term, incorporating strategies for the medium term (five to ten years), without ever losing sight of the long term (ten to twenty years), to achieve the collective vision of the Timorese People for a peaceful and developed Nation by 2030.

The ideas and ideals of this Government, represents a socio-economic political philosophy which translates in offering better living conditions to all of the Timorese population within a possible timeline. This improvement will result in the gradual satisfaction of the persistent needs of the population and the fulfillment of development goals in all regions of the country.

The V Constitutional Government has the confidence and cooperation of all sectors of society in the implementation of projects identified in the program. The will of the Timorese people is the most decisive factor for the successful implementation of the development strategy for the country.

In the program, the V Constitutional Government is committed to political behavior guided by the values of civic and human rights, tolerance, peace, dialogue and respect and governing practice shall be guided by the principles of good governance, inclusion and the principle that everyone must obey the law.

The vision of the V Constitutional Government for the nation is to have a prosperous, healthy, educated and skilled society, with widespread access to essential goods and services and in which production and employment in all sectors corresponds with an emerging economy.

The Government's aim is to create opportunities for all in a fair and inclusive manner, allowing the growth of a dynamic and innovative economy in Timor-Leste.

East Timor Legal News 28 August 2012

Map of the Timor Sea with East-Timor-Australia boundary
Police launch investigation into drugs trafficking and commence patrols in the Timor Sea to combat illegal fishing - The East Timor Secretary of State for Security, Francisco da Costa Guterres, has announced a new police investigation into allegations of drug trafficking in the country. Mr Guterres announced the investigation following the receipt of information from the national police that efforts were being undertaken to identify the drug traffickers, according to a report by RTTL today.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao had recently expressed anger about the presence of illegal drugs in East Timor after several imports were confiscated by Indonesian authorities at the border. The Prime Minister had called upon the responsible agencies (the police and customs authority) to be more vigilent. 

The Security Secretary of State added that the Government had planned to increase the numbers of marine police officers and to provide them with more facilities to better control illegal activities in the sea.

In this regard, Timor Post also reports that the newly inaugurated police marine vessel, the Lusitania that was recently acquired by the Government from the Indonesian Samudra Permay Company will begin operations off the southern coast of East Timor in the Timor Sea.

“We bought the ship for controlling the Timor Sea off the southwest coast and I have discussed with the Police Commissioner, Longuinhos Monteiro, the plan to commence routine patrols in that area," Secretary da Costa Guterres said.

The Lusitania will be used also to better control illegal fishing in the Timor Sea.

The Secretary of Security confimed that the Police Command had orderd the Marine Patrol Unit of the police force to conduct operations to combat illegal fishing as well as drug trafficking.  (Source Jornal Independente 28 August 2012)
Pension fund law creates injustice - Diario Nacional reported today that the Deputy President of the National Parliament, Aderito Hugo da Costa, said the time had come to amend the Pension Fund Law for conferring benefits on former government officials and Members of Parliament as it did not reflect the real condition of the Timorese people.

Mr. da Costa said the Pension Fund Law for former politicians could give rise to social injustice in the future and that the provisions of the law conferring 100% of the basic salary should be reduced to only 65%.

He added that there were also some provisions conferring the privileges of diplomatic passports, official residences and exemptions from import and export duties on former government officials as well as the family members of fomer Members of Parliament. Such provisions were unfair and should be amended.
Anti Corruption Commision summons former Deputy Minister for Education to testify - Diaro Nacional has reported that the former Deputy Minister for Education, Paulo Assis, will appear in the office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) to make a testimonial declaration regarding all physical projects implemented by the Ministry of Education.

Mr. Assis has been summoned as some of there are allegations that the project tender was not transparent and there is a suspicion of corruption, collusion and nepotism in the tender process.

KAK is also planning to summon the former Minister for Education, Joao Cancio Freitas, to testy in relation to the referred case.
Missing police weapon is not the government’s responsibility - According to a report by the Timor Post today, the State Secretary for Security said the recent case of the missing police weapon was not the government’s responsibility but the responsibility of the police officer who lost it.

“The missing weapon is the responsibility of the person who carried it,” he said. He added that actually the case was being investigated and the police officer who lost the weapon has been suspended from duty.

28 August 2012

Parliamentary Committee B on Defence and Security gets first female president

East Timor Legal News 20/08/2012 ETLJB - The East Timor Parliamentary Committee B on Defence and Security which is tasked with making recommendations for laws and policies on defence, national security and foreign affairs, has had its woman, Maria Lurdes Martins de Sousa Bessa, appointed as President. Mrs. de Sousa Bessa is joined by three other women on this Committee which has a total of 9 members.

Civil society security sector monitoring organsiation, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), stated that this appointment indicates a new level of empowerment for women in the defence and security sectors which have previoulsy been male-dominated in both membership and leadership. FM expressed the hope that the women on Committee B will advocate for the interests of Timorese women on all future defence, national security, and foreign affairs legislation and focus Committee B’s attention on women’s issues in the security sector; particularly the high levels of domestic violence in the country.

The appointment of  Mrs de Sousa Bessa as president of Committee B follows the rejection by the newly elected President, Taur Matan Rauk, of a woman as the Minister for Defence and Security in the V Constituional Government. Mrs Maria Domingas Alves, who is known as Mikato, had been proposed by the new coalition government led by Xanana Gusmao as the Minister for Defence and Security but the President objected and there were last minute moves to replace Mrs Alves with a man, Cirilo Jose Christopher in her place. Mrs Alves is one of East Timor's highest-profile women in politics, having presided over the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Services, during an extended crisis of internal displacement, the launch of an old-age pension and aid to veterans. The Women's Network (Redo Feto) condemned the President's objections and the Women's Group of Parliament spokeswoman told the media that that episode had killed the spirit of participation among women.

The membership of Committee B is as follows:
1. Maria Lurdes Martins de Sousa Bessa – President
2. Duarte Nunes – Vice President
3. Jacinto Viegas Vicente – Sectary
4. César Valente de Jesus – Member
5. Maria Rosa da Câmara “BI SOI” – Member
6. David Dias Ximenes – Member
7. Manuel Gaspar Soares da Silva – Member
8. António dos Santos “55” – Member
9. Ana da Conceição Ribeiro – Member

HIV/AIDS a Public Security Issue, says Fundasaun Mahein

An HIV/AIDS patient at the Bairo Pite clinic
East Timor Legal News 28/08/2012 ETLJB HIV/AIDS is a public security issue in East Timor according to a leading local non-government organisation that monitors security issues, Fundasaun Mahein (FM). According to FM, threats to the health and safety of citizens do not always come from weapons but can come also from disease.

The Health Ministry has recorded 263 diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS while another 31 individuals have already died from this terrible illness. Seventeen of the active cases are children under the age of five years old and there have already been five deaths of children under the age of five. These are cases of mother-to-child transmission. Recently, it was reported that 9 police officers have been diagnosed HIV-positive. Only 73 of the known surviving 263 people living with HIV/AIDS are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

Based on further statistics from the Health Ministry, HIV/AIDS is being transmitted more rapidly and widely over recent years. FM notes that in 2003, there was only 1 confirmed case of HIV. In 2004 this spread to 3 additional cases. Seven years later, in 2011 there were 47 new diagnosed cases. In the first half of 2012,there were 28 more confirmed cases.

As in other countries, such as Australia, where policies and laws based on factual science and empirical evidence (rather than religious ideas or ideas based on a particular interpretation of morality), there is a certain spectrum of government interventions that are necessary to stem the transmission of HIV/AIDS in the East Timorese community.

FM has therefore put forward the following proposals:

1. Institute privacy laws for HIV status. HIV status should be between the individual, their healthcare providers, and the government. Everybody has a right to private treatment;

2. To conduct HIV screening at all entry points into Timor-Leste including airports, seaports, and along the land border with Indonesia;

3. To create mobile testing centers to go from District to District on a monthly basis;

4. To promote appropriate maternal and childhood health to address vertical transmissions;

5. To institute civic education programs about safe sex and safe hospital practices as well as including sex education and HIV prevention methods as part of school curricula;

6. To create a government-wide agency involvement in HIV transmission management; and

7. To promote female condom distribution and empower women to take care of their health.

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) also encourages citizens to get themselves screened for HIV/AIDS.

The East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin (ETLJB) has previously published several commentaries on the issue of HIV/AIDS in East Timor as well as the correlated issues of homosexuality and homophobia; some of which have been republished on the East Timor Law Journal. A complete list of these is at the end of this post.

In addition to the policies advocated by FM (with the exception of screening at border entry points), ETLJB  also posits anti-discrimination laws and anti-vilification laws prohibiting and penalising discrimination and vilification based on sexual orientation. Such laws have been an essential component of government policies in Australia that have become a world model for HIV/AIDS transmission control.

It is also essential that antiretroviral drugs be made easily accessible and freely available to those diagnosed as HIV-positive.

The integration of community organisations is also a critical element of policies aimed at combating the spread of HIV.

ETLJB commends FM for its courageous stance on the issue of HIV/AIDS in East Timor; in full knowledge of the anticipated rejection of many of the polices advocated by both FM and ETLJB by the Catholic Church and other conservative religious denominations that propagate ideas and policies that are referenced to supernatural religious dogmas as the basis of government policies on HIV/AIDS.

The secular government must stand firm against those religious institutions that oppose science-based approaches to HIV policy and prioritise the health of each and every citizen as well as the entire community above religious doctrines such as those that proscribe the use of condoms, that vilify homosexuals and prostitutes and that advocate the ridiculous notion of abstinence from sexual activity and the delusion of faithful monogamy as means of combating HIV/AIDS.

See further
East Timor's ticking AIDS timebomb
Number of people infected with HIV/AIDS increasing in Timor-Leste 
HIV-AIDS and Homophobia in East Timor
Homosexuality in East Timor
Morality, Religion & the Law: Abortion & Prostitution in East Timor
People living with HIV-AIDS in East Timor Celebrate World AIDS Day and Christmas 
HIV/AIDS Services for Timorese Inmates
Timor Leste Red Cross excludes homosexuals from HIV-AIDS Reduction Program  
Catholic propaganda obscures the true toll of HIV in East Timor
Further reports on HIV/AIDS in East Timor may be found by using the Custom Google search engine at the top of the side bar of ETLJB.

East Timor Legal News 27 August 2012

President of the Parliament Vicente Guterres
President of National Parliament to present his assets to the Court of Appeals - The new President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, has announced that he will file his declaration of assets in the Court of Appeal shortly, Radio Televizaun de Timor-Leste (RTTL) has reported.

Mr Guterres also called on other Government officials to follow the example set by the President of the Republic who recently filed his and his family's assets declarations in the Court of Appeal and also publicly released them.
However, the Deputy Prime Minister was reported recently as stating that Government officials would not publicly declare their assets because the law only required them to file the declaration with the Court of Appeal and did not require public disclosure.
Military Command meets with International Stabilisation Force - The East Timorese National Defence Forces (F-FDTL) Deputy Commander, Brigadier General Filomeno Paixao,  has reported that the F-FDTL Command has met with the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) to review their work in the country.

Paixao said F-FDTL was supported by the Australian and Portuguese Governments through the provision of advisers and capacity building for F-FDTL to improve the 2020 strategic plan.

"The aim of the meeting was to review the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of defence," he said.He added the quality of administrative operations was important to improve F-FDTL at its Headquarters. (Source RTTL 27 August 2012)
Samson ready to be jailed - Timor Post reports that the Director for LABEH [a national NGO], Cristopher Henry Samson said he was ready to be jailed in Becora prison following his conviction several months ago in the Dili District Court of falsifying documents relating to his East Timorese citizenship. He was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for the offence.

"If the Court of Appeal decides that I am guilty and have to go to prison, I will go to Becora, I have to accept the Court's decision," he said.

Mr. Samson made the comments during the ceremony of LABEH's ninth anniversary in Kampung Baru, Comoro of Dili.
Prime Minister inaugurates new police ship - Prime Minister Gusmao has said that the pesence of the new ship would help the country's security institutions to better control the Timor Sea's wealth.

"We have a lot of wealth in the sea. Therefore, we should control it and this new ship will combat  illegal fishing in our territorial waters," he said.

Mr. Gusmao made the comments during an inaugurating ceremony of the new ship for the East Timorese National Police (PNTL) at Dili Port.

Meanwhile, Timor Post also reports that the police will increase the number of Marine Unit personnel to strengthen security in the Timor Sea. The Marine Unit is presently comprised of only 57 members and that is not enough for deployment in areas such as Dili, Atabae, and Com in Lospalos.

"PNTL Marine Unit members are not enough to be deployed in seven stations at the Border Areas such as Dili, Atabae, and Com of Lospalos, therefore, PNTL commands will recruit more PNTL Agents that are attending training at PNTL Academy to be assigned for the Marine Unit," the Police Commissioner, Longinhos Monteiro said at the same inauguration ceremony. (Source: Timor Post)
Government will test MP5 weapon in Indonesia - The State Secretary for Security Fransisco da Costa Guterres has established a team of police officers to go to Indonesia for testing the new MP5 weapons for the police force.

"Five of the weapons have been imported to Timor-Leste and tests have been conducted but the tests showed that the quality of the weapons was no optimal and so we have established a team to go to Indonesia for furthe testing. If those tests do not prove the quality of the weapons, we will cancel the order" the Secretary said.

The five weapons that were tested have been handed back to the Indonesian company that supplied them. (Source: Timor Post)

See related reports
Timor-Leste Will Buy More Guns?
PNTL buys PINDAD weapons and PNTL Intelligence Commander loses his semiautomatic assault rifle
Fundasaun Mahein (FM): Guns Are Not Toys
Management and Mismanagement of Police Weapons
HAK calls on police to conduct thorough investigation into soldier's death - Diaro Nacional has reported tha tthe leading human rights civil society organisation (HAK) has called on the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the recent death of a soldier, Cristovao da Silva, in Dili.
"We are calling on PNTL to hold a thorough investigation into to the case to identify the suspect who bashed this defence force member to death," the Director of HAK, Rogerio Viegas said.

HAK also called on F-FDTL to improve its members' performance within the community, so that people would respect them.
Prime Minister angry about illegal drugs - Independente reports that the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has called on the Timorese National Police (PNTL) and the Customs Department to strengthen security at the border to prevent people from importing illegal drugs in to the country.

"I am calling on you to pay attention to the illegal drugs imported from Indonesia to Timor-Leste. Several parcels of illegal drugs have been confiscated by the Indonesian police at the border," he said.

27 August 2012

Civil society concerned about soldiers' deaths

F-FDTL march with FALINTIL flag
East Timor Legal News 27 August 2012 ETLJB - Following the latest killing of an East Timor Defence Force soldier in Dili, peak security sector monitoring civil society organsiation, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), has expressed concern about the number of killings of off-duty military personnel during 2012 which it cites as between 4 - 5.
FM says that this is a continuation of a spate of armed forces soldier killings that have occurred over the last few years.

All of the murdered soldiers killed this year were off duty and it is not known whether the murders are the result of targeted attacks against military personnel, the private issues of individual soldiers or both.

FM is concerned about those Timorese responsible for the killings which raises the issue of disrespect for the country's military institutions. If civilians distrust the F-FDTL institution, the F-FDTL institution cannot function.

FM is also concerned about the F-FDTL soldiers themselves and why they put themselves in unsafe situations even while off-duty. According to FM, this behavior puts at risk the integrity of the entire institution of F-FDTL and soldiers should remember that the reputation of the military institutions depends on each and every soldier.

"Military soldiers should remember that once they join the military, they are associated with F-FDTL for the entire period of their service. During this period the soldiers are identified with the F-FDTL while on-duty and off-duty. In turn, the reputation of F-FDTL institution depends on each soldier."

So long as military personnel die while they are off-duty, FM recommended to the F-FDTL Command to institute tighter rules with more rigid discipline and to create military compounds where soldiers’ families and relatives can stay together.

FM also recommended that all soldiers not involve themselves in private conflicts and disputes. FM says that "they are part of the formal channel of conflict resolution on the national level and need to encourage other formal channels at the local level, such as with the PNTL to enable peaceful resolutions of civil disputes and avoid off-duty deaths of F-FDTL soldiers. It will also boost the reputation of the F-FDTL by further legitimizing formal channels of conflict resolution.:

Finally, the police should conduct investigations and determine why these F-FDTL killings occurred, with political consequences against those behind the killings.

Related stories
Autopsy shows soldier killed with hammer and iron bar by relatives not stones
Investigation in stoning death of soldier begins
Soldier stoned to death in Timor-Leste
Soldier's body found on Dili beach

25 August 2012

Government officials will not publicly declare their assets

East Timor Legal News  25/08/2012 The Deputy Prime Minister Fernando Lasama de Araujo has said that government officials would declare their assets to the Court of Appeal but they would not declare it to the public as what the president of the republic did.

Lasama said the wealth of the Government officials that would be filed in the Court of Appeal would not be published.

“I think it is about privacy of each people due to the constitution also guarantees the people’s privacy,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister's comments follow the publication of President Taur Matan Ruak's assets, along with those of his wife and children last week and his call on all high public officials to do the same.

The law requires members of the government to file their assets declaration in the Court of Appeal but there is no provision for those declarations to be made public.

Related story
New President Taur Matan Ruak publicly declares assets and calls on all public officials to follow

Two suspects in soldier's murder

East Timor Legal News 24/08/2012 ETLJB East Timor's Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) Commander, Superintendent Calistro Gonzaga, has said that the police suspect two people involved in the killing of defence force member, Cristovao da Silva, two weeks ago in the capital Dili.

It was initially believed that the soldier had been stoned to death but an autopsy showed that he had been struck on the head with a hammer and an iron bar after he had attended a family wedding party in the Dili suburb of Quintal Boot.

Commander Gonzaga stated that the family wanted the police to arrest two suspects but the police were waiting for a decision from the Public Prosecutor's office.

Meanswhile, the Timorese National Defense Force (F-FDTL) Commander Major Genral Lere Anan Timur has called on the Government to look after the late Cristovao da Silva’s family.

Lere made the comments said after meeting with the President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) at the palace of the president.

Lere said the competent institution should be responsible for the case and look after the widow and the orphans as the deceased soldier had served the country and F-FDTL.

Related stories
Autopsy shows soldier killed with hammer and iron bar by relatives not stones
Investigation in stoning death of soldier begins
Soldier stoned to death in Timor-Leste
Soldier's body found on Dili beach 

Update 17/10/2013 Man accused of murder of Cristavao found dead in prison cell 

24 August 2012

Council of Ministers Meeting of 22 August 2012

East Timor Legal News 24 August 2012 - ETLJB The Council of Minister met on Wednesday 22 August 2012 in the Noble Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, in Díli.

The Council of Ministers approved a draft law on the Organic Structure of the V Consitutional government after an analysis of its powers to improve the law and adapt it to the needs that each member of the government considers essential to the performance of their duties.

The Council of Ministers also decided to hold work sessions to review in detail the V Constitutional Government’s Program and prepare the final version of the document.

The Ministers also reconsidered the presentation of the Supplementary Budget for 2012, focusing primarily on the structuring and financial responsibilities of the various government offices. In this context, the Civil Service Commission submitted to the Council of Ministers staff and recruitment maps from the Civil Service for this year (2012) that allows more efficient management of human and financial resources to affect amendments to the 2012 budget.

The work plan calendar for the preparation of the Proposed Law of the State Budget for 2013 was again
subject to assessment by the executive.

Court hears that suspicious husband beats wife every day

East Timor Legal News 24/08/2012 ETLJB The Dili District Court has head a case (case number 0301/11) on 28 June last in which a woman claimed that she has endured daily beatings by her husband for years because he suspects that she is seeing another man. .

In giving evidence to the Court, the victim declared that “every time he is drunk he slaps me in the face, punches my guts, and beats me with an iron rod”.

The defendand accused his wife of committing adultery while he was at work.

“I explained to him I was his wife and that I would never do any of these things he was accusing me of,” said the victim.  She stated that she was forbidden by her husband to sit at the front of their home or speak to anyone while he was at work.

“He wants me to stay inside all the time, I am not allowed to talk to young men who are our neighbours and if he sees me talking to them he accuses me of adultery,” said the victim.

The defendant made a statement admitting to beating his wife because he suspected her of adultery.

“I am suspicious of her because of the influence of my friends and family who do not like my wife and I believed in them blindingly and when I remember their accusations I became so angry I just wanted to beat her up,” said the perpetrator.

She eventually fled the home leaving her children and sought refuge at her parents’ house.

The judge adjourned the case to 10 July to sentence the husband for his crimes of domestic violence.

Related stories
Government provides financial support to 259 victims of gender-based violence 
Husband fined $50 for belting wife because of mute reply
Summary of cases tried at the Oecusse District Court in February 2012
Court tries police officer for domestic violence offences
Law against Domestic Violence a top priority for the East Timor National Parliament

Military chief calls for immediate dismissal of Police Commissioner

General Lere Anan
East Timor Legal News 24/08/2012 The Chief of the East Timor Defence Forces, General Lere Anan has pubilcly called for the immediate dismissal of Police Commander Longinhos Monteiro over the recent  loss of an FNC semi automatic assault rifle by a police officer and at least 30 other missing police weapons.

The President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak has raised his concerns of a spate of lost police weapons with the  Secretary of State for Security Fransisco Guterres and has requested the Secretary to instruct the PNTL (East Timor National Police) to recover the weapon without further delay.

Tempo Semanal reports that General Lere has stated that "the PNTL member must punished for his mistake. If this happens in FDTL (the armed forces), the soldier must be sacked immediately".

Tempo Semanal has also reported that the PNTL Commander Longuinos Monteiro has not been truthful over the matter of the police service losing weapons and associated disciplinary matters.  He has stated in media and press conferences that the officer responsible has been suspended two weeks ago but it has only happened 3 days ago, and the officer in question retains access to government assets.
PNTL Commander Longuinos Monteiro

The missing FNC rifle in question was held by the PNTL Intelligence Unit Commander, Octavio Araujo, in the Police Headquarters in Dili.

Commissioner Monteiro has told media and public that the missing weapons were not of concern, and that he was conducting investigations.

Police Officer Araujo only received a suspension letter on 22 August signed by the PNTL Commissioner.  But Tempo Semanal PNTL sources state that “Mr. Octavio Araujo was suspended from his post on Tuesday this week after getting the suspension letter from the General Commander. But he still has his Government mobile phone and his official car,” said a senior PNTL commander who asked Tempo Semanal not to name him.

According to eyewitnesses in the Indonesian Food Bar, Officer Araujo came to the bar with a Timorese woman.  "The car was park here inside this place but we didn’t see he had an FNC rifle. He was drunk. Maybe the gun was in the car I don’t know,” said a person familiar with the bar.

The PNTL considers the woman a suspect in the lost or stolen weapon and PNTL has conducted an investigation but have today discovered that the suspect has fled country to Indonesia soon after the investigation became apparent.

In the mean time the investigation inside PNTL has not started yet said a source close to the Investigation Commander unit in PNTL headquarter Dili. According to Tempo Semanal sources Mr. Jorge Monteiro, Commander of Internal Investigations, has yet to decide to investigate the suspended PNTL member.  Mr. Monteiro is himself a suspect in many previous cases of police misconduct.

The weapon is presumed to be with Timorese civilians but PNTL officers are blaming each another for the the weapon's loss due to competing interests among PNTL officers for the position of General Commander.

Tempo Semanal sources indicate that current Police Commissioner Longuinous Monteiro is viewed as being ineffective and incompetent by political leadership.

Meanwhile, the National Parliament has requested the police to account for the 31 weapons missing since the 2006 crisis.

“These weapons must be found because they are in the wrong hands, as legally, only the army and police are entitled to carry them,” said MP David Diaz Ximenes, (14/08), in Parliament.

Second Commander of the PNTL, Commissioner Afonso de Jesus, reported that of the thirty one (31) missing weapons; twenty seven (27) were pistols and the others were K33 guns.

“The police are trying to find these weapons and we also ask for cooperation from the community. People should be considerate and return the state assets to the police,” said Commissioner de Jesus.

Related stories
 Civil Society Defence and Security Monitor Requests Release of 2008 Report on Weapons Recovery
PNTL Loses Weapons: Commander Longuinos Monteiro In Charge 
Civil Society Defence and Security Monitor Requests Release of 2008 Report on Weapons Recovery 
Police deny rumors of illegal weapons in Ermera
East Timor Legal News 15 August 2012 
East Timor Legal News 10 August 2012

23 August 2012

Autopsy shows soldier killed with hammer and iron bar by relatives not stones

East Timor Legal News23/08/2012 The autopsy on a soldier,  who was believed to have been killed by stoning was in fact killed by blows with a hammer and an iron bar to the head.

A relative of the murdered soldier, Mr Luis Gaspar, told reporters that, based on the autopsy, his family member died because he was hit with a hammer. It had previously been reported that he had been stoned to death.

He was taken to the Hospital but he died a week later, said Mr. Gonzaga.

Meanwhile, State Secretary for Security (SES), Francisco da Costa Guterres, said he had asked the National Police (PNTL) not to tolerate the suspects who killed the member of the country's defence force.

Mr. Guterres affirmed that the police were currently undertaking an investigation into the case and would send their findings to the Public Prosecution for legal charges.

He added that the police had identified the suspects who killed the soldier but they could not reveal it as it was the subject of the legal process.

However, the chief of the Criminal Investigation, Calistro Gonzaga, said the victim, Cristovao da Silva, was attacked by his relatives at a family wedding party in Kintal Boot on August 12.

A close relative of the victim, Ricardo Ximenes, denied that the family was involved and claimed instead that Mr. da Silva was attacked by an unknown group of the people on the road leading from Audian to Kintal Boot, around Santa Cruz.

The investigation into the soldier's death is continuing.

Related stories
Investigation in stoning death of soldier begins
Soldier stoned to death in Timor-Leste
Soldier's body found on Dili beach

Police identify suspects in journalist stabbing case and report second stabbing

Commander Calisto Gonzaga
East Timor Legal News 23/08/2012 ETLJB - The police have identified several suspects in the case of the recent stabbing in Dili of a radio journalist who was investigating corruption.

The journalist was stabbed outside the office of the Anti-Corruption Commission on 10 August 2012.

“There has been an indication about the people who stabbed the Radio Rakambia journalist Leonito da Cruz Gonsalves,” National Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) Commander, Calisto Gonzaga, said.

In a further development, Commander Gonzaga also told journalists that another young man known as Clementino had also been stabbed in the suburb of Delta 3 in the capital, Dili.

The Commander added that both of the stabbing victims were currently receiving medical treatment in the Guido Valadares National Hospital of  (HNGV) and are expected to survive their injuries.

Related stories
World Association of Community Broadcasters Condemns Attack on Timor Leste Reporter
Radio Reporter stabbed in stomach 3 times

22 August 2012

Investigation in stoning death of soldier begins

East Timor Armed Forces HQ
East Timor Legal News 22/08/2012 ETLJB Following the death of a member of the East Timor Armed Forces after he was stoned, Fretilin has called on the police to immediately investigate the killing. According to Fretilin MP Marcos da Costa, the killing of military personnel has happened many times in the country.

“I suspect some intellectual mastermind is behind the case because they do not like F-FDTL as a military institution,” MP da Costa said.

Cristovao da Silva was stoned by unknown people in Quintal-Boot on 12 August, he was then taken to the National Hospital of Guido Valadares for receiving medical treatment, but he died a few days later.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Service Commander Superintendent Calistro Gonzaga said the CIS had already commenced the investigate the incident and identify those who stoned the soldier.

“On 12 August, his relatives held a wreath-laying ceremony in Quintal Boot,” the Commander said.

Commander Superintendent Calistro Gonzaga also confirmed that the victim took part in a wedding party in Quintal Boot before he was stoned. He said the CIS will contact all of the people who participated in the wedding party.

He called on all the people who were at the wedding party, especially the relatives of Mr. Cristovao, to inform the police exactly what had happened.

Related stories
Soldier stoned to death in Timor-Leste
Soldier's body found on Dili beach

Justice Ministry to run community legal education programs on radio

East Timor Legal News 22/08/2012 ETLJB The  Ministry of Justice will use radio stations to broadcast community legal education programs which will explain current laws and other information about the justice sector.

“We will collaborate with Community Radios across all thirteen Districts to disseminate information in the rural areas,” said Minister of Justice, Dionisio Babo Soares in Dili recently.

The Minister will also hold meetings with the Chefes de Sucos and Aldeias as well as community members to clear doubts regarding the sector and explain the laws.

Member of Parliament (MP) David Dias Ximenes said “the program to disseminate the laws is a very positive thing. Every citizen should know his or her rights and obligations as well as  understanding of the laws in place."

The first use of radio for community legal education was undertaken by the University of San Francisco School o f Law's Centre for Law and Global Justice Community Legal Education program in East Timor between 2002-2004. The program was implemented in conjunction with The Asia Foundation under its Access to Justice Program with the Catholic Church's Radio Timor Kmanek. Program Manager, Mr. Warren Wright, said that the programs were highly successful and included interaction between government officials who administered the laws and members of the community who could telephone in their questions to be answered by the government officials or civil society law and justice organisation representatives.

New President Taur Matan Ruak publicly declares assets and calls on all public officials to follow

President Taur Matan Ruak
East Timor Legal News 22/08/2012 ETLJB East Timor's new president, Taur Matan Ruak, has made a public declaration of his personal assets. He has also declared the assets of his wife and his children. The declarations were submitted to the Chief Justice of East Timor, Claudio Ximenes, at the Court of Appeal today at 11:00am.

It is the first time that the Head of State has made such a public declaration of his and his family's personal assets.

In an accompanying press statement, the President said that the office of president is a public office to which he had been elected to perform a constitutional role that is critical to the functioning of the state.

"The Office is not a tool for my own personal enrichment." the press release stated.

"By making this declaration of my personal assets and through annual declarations I shall, in accordance with my responsibilities to all citizens and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, demonstrate that I do not and will not use my position to enrich myself and to practice such corrupt behaviour.

In the jungle we used to talk of a Timor-Leste free of the corruption of others who have come to rule over us. Many Timorese shed their blood for this dream. We must not forget the patriotic ideals that guided us in the past. They are now consumed by the virus of corruption. I call upon all members of government, national parliament, the courts and all public officials to join with me to present full and complete declaration of personal assets annually.

Let us all stand firmly in this fight to make a strong, free and prosperous Timor-Leste. Those who choose not to join in this struggle against corruption should ask themselves if they are truly fit for public office. It is the people of Timor-Leste, whom we serve every day, are the true judge of the credibility of those in public office and in the end our people make the final decision of our fates."

The existing assets declaration law requires public office holders to disclose their assets to the Court of Appeal but that disclose is not required to be made public.

The President's wife said “we want to make it public and if the public wants to know they may come to the Court of Appeal and ask for it. The President of the Republic wants to make it available to the public to allow citizens to act as watchdog on making sure the President follows through on campaign pledges for clean government and good governance.  This is based on the President’s political commitment during his campaign on the issue to fight corruption in our young nation of Timor-Leste.”

The only other high office holder to publicly declare his assets is the former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alberto Carlos who made public asset declarations in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  He was the only member of the AMP Government to do so.

In making such a public declaration of assets, the President has challenged the entire political elite of Timor-Leste to do the same, stated the weekly publication Tempo Semanal which obtained copies of the declarations and published them on its web site. Click here to see the orginal documents.

In Timor-Leste asset declaration by members of the government is not a legal requirement despite Members of Parliament (MP) and some sectors of civil society outcries.

But the Vice President of the National Parliament, Aderito Hugo, has said that asset declaration by government members is not a legal requirement. “In the previous Government, all members of the government were forced to declare their assets at the Court of Appeals, however Parliament has not created any legislation which requires them to do so,” he said in the Parliament said Parliament Vice-President on 10 August 2012.

“There have been informal discussions on this matter. This legislation should be an initiative by Government or Parliament, otherwise people continue to talk about declaration of assets to the Court of Appeals, but nothing is done about it,” said the Vice-president.

“To date we have not received any instructions or forms to fill in to declare our assets,” said MP Virgilio da Costa Hornai.

Court of Appeal must study former Justice Minister's appeal

Chief Judge Claudio Ximenes
East Timor Legal News 22/08/2012 East Timor's chief judge, Claudio Ximenes, who is the President of the country's highest court, the Court of Appeals, has said that the Court needs time to consider the appeal made by the former Justice Minister, Lucia Lobato, from her conviction in the Dili District Court for abuse of power and unlawful conduct in the process of a procurement contract for the Justice Ministry.

Ms Lobato was the Justice Minister under the Parliamentary Majority Alliance IV Constitional Government and was sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Dili District Court earlier this year but lodged an appeal to have the lower court's decision reviewed by the Court of Appeal.

Diaro Nacional reported yesterday that the Chief Judge Ximenes stressed that the appeal process is complex and the court can not make decisions recklessly.

He said that the Court needs sufficient time to review the case before handing down its verdict.

Ms Lobato is a relative of the former Minister for the Interior under the first Fretilin government, Rogerio Lobato, who was also convicted of criminal conduct in the illegal distribution of weapons to civilians during the 2006 crisis.

Related posts
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Police have inquired 30 witnesses regarding Comoro Bridge case

Soldier stoned to death in Timor-Leste

F-FDTL Coat of Arms
East Timor Legal News 22/08/2012 ETLJB A member of the East Timor Defence Forces has died after being stoned in the country's capital city of Dili.

Jornal Indpendente reported yesterday that the soldier, Cristovao da Silva, died despite receiving intensive medical treatment at the Guido Valadares National Hospital for the injuries he sustained after being struck by rocks. The rocks were thrown at the soldier by an unknown group of people in Dili's suburb of Quintal-Boot last Sunday, 12 August 2012.

The Deputy Defence Force Commander, Brigadier General Filomeno Paixao has extended condolences to the family of the deceased man.

The motives behind the attack are not yet known.

21 August 2012

Correlation between high unemployment and violence in Timor-Leste

East Timor gang member brandishes weapons
East Timor Legal News 21 August 2012 ETLJB A study conducted by Fundasaun Mahein, the leading civil society organisation focussed on monitoring, research and advocacy regarding the security sector, posits a causal correlation between high levels of unemployment, poverty and security issues.

Notwithstanding an accumulated sovereign fund of more than US$10 billion from oil and gas revenues from the Timor Sea since independence in 1999, East Timor is  low-income country with extreme levels of poverty and complex social problems, including a high unemployment rate of 20% which reaches as high as 40% amongst the youth in urban centres. (Lex Mundi 2010)

According to FM's Agi Soares' thesis, unemployment is the greatest threat to youth social development because they are more likely to engage in problematical behavior in response to the stresses and pressures resulting from their unemployment and are therfore at risk of being exploited by agents whose intentions are to create instability. These risks include committing crimes such as breaking, entering and theft, drug dealing, prostitution and gang violence with the latter most manifest in the so-called martial arts groups who have been involved in numerous violent disturbances and crimes over the last decade.

Apart from these social aberrations, unemployment also has serious economic consequences. As unemployment increases, consumption and the production of goods and services decreases. Consequently, investors are less likely to undertake business in those sectors which in turn causes less employment opportunities to be created in the private sector.

In addition, there are consequences for the health of the unemployed who are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and anger and therefore more prone to engaging in substance abuse which leads to a higher propensity for violence. This not only strains the limited resources of the health care system but also impacts on famility harmony and disrupts the civil peace.

Finally, unemployment presents a problem for the government's capacity to provide community services. With less people employed, tax revenue to the state is lower.

The finding and hypotheses of this analysis demonstrates a strong correlation between high levels of unemployment and increasing security issues arising from the several social problems mentioned above.

It is therefore imperative that the government's top priority be to facilitate economic growth and development by providing greater opportunities for private sector investment that creates employment. That would also improve state revenues that can be expended on public infrastructures such as roads, schools, hospitals and services. Ultimately, security issues generated by unemployment would diminish.

Minister of Justice Dionisio Babo-Soares announces plan to establish Criminal Investigations Centre

Minister of Justice Dionisio Babo-Soares
East Timor Legal News 21 August 2012 ETLJB The new East Timor Minister of Justice, Mr Dionisio Babo-Soares, has announced plans to establish a Criminal Investigations Centre during the current legislative term of the V Constitutional Government.

“We are thinking about establishing a Criminal Investigation Centre, which is important because up to now this role has been filled in by the Criminal Investigations Services (SIC) Unit,” the Minister said in Dili recently.

The Minister added that the managerial staff at the SIC will need to be better qualified and have higher competencies.

Member of Parliament (MP) Mateus de Jesus said this was a change for the better because the Centre would enhance the justice sector.

“We don’t have a centre such as the one planned, so this if great forward thinking,” said MP de Jesus.

He reiterated the Minister’s call for highly qualified and competent staff to manage the future Criminal Investigations Centre.

The new Minister of Justice replaces the former disgraced Minister for Justice in the prvious AMP government, Mrs. Lucia Lobato, who has been convicted for abuse of power and is facing a prison term of 5 years for illegal conduct in a contract procurement process while she was head of the Justice Ministry.

Mr Babo-Soares is also the Secretary-General of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) which won the biggest share of the recent Parliamentary vote. He holds a doctorate from the Australian National University and was previously the Deputy-Director of The Asia Foundation's office in Dili.

20 August 2012

JSMP disseminates information and knowledge on the Law Against Domestic Violence

East Timor Legal News 20 August 2012 ETLJB East Timor's peak judicial system monitoring NGO, JSMP will conduct national seminars on developments since the enactment of the Law Against Domestic Violence in 2010 in the Districts of Liquica (on 17 August 2012) and Ermera (on 24 August 2012). The focus of the seminars is on progress and challenges since the law came into force.

The purposes of the seminars are to encourage public involvement, through local government administrative authorities, the police, women's organisations and religious representatives, to be part of collective efforts to reduce domestic violence which continues to prevail across the entire territory of Timor Leste. It is also essential to raise awareness about the impact of domestic violence on the victims against whom it is perpetrated as well as its impact on national development.

“The Police, the local authorities, the church and other relevant NGOs are strategic partners in eradicating domestic violence in the community. Therefore, a crucial step is to engage in efforts to strengthen institutional links with the aforementioned entities” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio in a press release on 16 August 2012.

JSMP had also organised training for young wome in remote areas on 8-9 August 2012 that was facilitated by JSMP staff and the coordinator of the Women’s Justice Unit (WJU) in Lifau Village, Pante Makasar Sub-District, Oecusse District.

This training also focused on the Law Against Domestic Violence as well as the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code from a gender perspective.

“This training was crucial in raising the understanding of the group of young women, especially for those who have responsibility in the village, in order to extend their knowledge and enable them to disseminate information to other youths” said Luis Oliveira Sampaio, Executive Director of JSMP ina press release on 16/08/2012.  

Lifau Village Chief said after the training that “we value the initiative of JSMP in providing this training program because it can facilitate the understanding of our youth and can help reduce domestic violence in our village”.

JSMP hopes that this type of training can continue to strengthen people's understanding in remote areas, especially to help them understand how to handle cases that are linked to gender based violence.

ETLJB Related Posts
Husband fined $50 for belting wife because of mute reply
Law against Domestic Violence a top priority for the East Timor National Parliament 
Government provides financial support to 259 victims of gender-based violence 
Only two cases of domestic violence heard at Dili District Court 
Domestic violence cases increase rapidly starting from October
Parliament approves budget to fight domestic violence
We recommend the customised Google search engine in the right hand column to find further posts on domestic violence in East Timor

19 August 2012

Relationship between Police and Secretary of State for Security needs improvement

East Timor Legal News 19 August 2012 According the East Timorese security and defence monitoring NGO, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), the Government must act to improve the relationship between the General Command of the East Timor National Police and the State Secretary for Security which in the past has been less than optimal.

“The new PNTL was sworn in on March 27, 2009; since then the relationship with the Secretariat of State for Security has not been a good one,” criticised FM Executive Director Nelson Belo, (06/08), in Balide, Dili. He asked the new Government to strengthen the relationship with the PNTL to improve the institution in the future.

However, Commander General Commissioner Afonso de Jesus said he personally believed the relationship between the two entities was solid.

“I can personally say we have a good relationship with the SES, with regards to PNTL needs, we continue to do our job, so I don’t think there is a problem ,” said Commissioner de Jesus.

According to him, the SE must address the needs of the PNTL, so whenever there are any issues, PNTL informs the SES, maybe in some places there has not been much of a change, “but this is the reality, not because there is lack of coordination between PNTL and SES,” he said.

Violence against children in Timor-Leste

East Timor Legal News 10 August 2012 ETLJB The Oe-cussi Child Rights Protection Services in the Regional Social Reinsertion Directorate has referred six cases of violence against children to the Office of the Prosecutor for processing.

“We processed three cases form the second semester and a further three in the latter part of 2011,” said David Casenube, Oe-cussi DRSR Official (02/08), at a meeting in ETPA Santa Rosa, Oe-cussi.

Some of these children were abandoned, others mistreated by adoptive parents and neglected after their parents separated.

The perpetrators of these crimes are at large because there was not sufficient evidence to imprison them, although in 2008 we were able to prosecute two people,” said David Casenube.

Afonso Caunan Colo, participating at the meeting suggested Government accelerates the creation of the law on crimes against juveniles to ensure children’s rights.

“We need a specific law, it is not sufficient to ratify conventions,” said Colo.

Selamat Idul Fitri 1 Syawal 1433 H

An-Nur Mosque, Dili, East Timor
East Timor Legal News 10/08/2012  Kepada umat Moslem di seluruh dunia, terutama warga Timor-Leste yang beragama Islam, kami dari ETLJB mengucapkan selamat Idul Fitri 1 Syawal 1433 H. Minal aidin walfaidzin. Mohon maaf lahir dan batin.

To all Moslems in the world, especially,  East Timorese Moslems, we at ETLJB wish you Happy Idul Fitri.

May Allah bless you.

18 August 2012

Government provides financial support to 259 victims of gender-based violence

East Timor Legal News 18 August 2012 ETLJB The Government of East Timor, through the National Directorate for Social Reinsertion Women’s Promotion and Protection Unit, has provided financial assistance to 259 victims of gender based violence over the last 3 years.

In 2010, 63 people received the support, in 2011, 130 and in the first half of 2012, 66 were provided with cash to meet their basic living expenses while going through the ordeal.

The Head of the Women’s Protection Unit, Joana da Cunha, said in her offrice in Bemori, Dili last week (08/08/2012) that the unit does not directly deal with the victims. Rather, it works through the shelters and refuges.

"In cases of emergency, we attend to them directly always through the Women's Protective Officers in all thirteen Districts,” she said.

"The financial assistance ranges from US$50 to $500 and the money is used to help them deal with their situation or simply cover basic costs. We provide the money through the shelters,” said da Cunha.

Vulnerable families are also given a helping hand in obtaining medical treatment.

Member of Parliament (MP) Josefa Alvares Soares for the Women in Parliament Group said this is a positive initiative by the relevant ministries dealing with gender-based violence.

“I have noticed the program is very straight forward in assisting victims of gender based violence either directly or through the refuges and shelters,” said MP Soares.

Funding has been the major issue affecting the viability of shelters and refuges for victims of domestic and gender based violence.

The East Timor Women's Network (Rede Feto), which is the umbrella organisation administering the shelters and refuges has urged the Government to fund them at appropriate levels to guarantee adequate provision of services and facilities for women victims.

“I believe shelters should be established in all Districts and not only in some, as domestic violence occurs throughout the whole nation. Funding should be allocated for the operation of these shelters and to pay for staff’s wages, so victims of gender based get the appropriate treatment and services,” said Rede Feto member and Director of Feto Kbi’it Servisu Hamutuk (FKSH), Gisela de Carvalho, (06/08), in Bairo-Pite, Dili.

According to Gisela, implementation of the Law against Domestic Violence created by the Secretary of State for the promotion of Equality (SEPI) is not fully implementable because there are insufficient shelters and refuges.

“Looking after and providing services to victims of domestic and gender based violence, is not an easy task while they reside at the shelters,” she said.

Women’s representative in Parliament, Member of Parliament (MP) Josefa Alvares Soares said shelters providing assistance to victims of domestic and gender based violence need much more funding and support from the Government to improve their human resources to ensure for instance the provision of the services of psychologists dealing with traumatised survivors.

“A very important component of treatment in these shelters is psychological counselling so victims are prepared for reinsertion into society. The nuns have contributed a lot but we need counsellors to help these victims overcome their trauma,” said MP Soares.

Related Posts
Husband fined $50 for belting wife because of mute reply
Law against Domestic Violence a top priority for the East Timor National Parliament

See further Customary Law and Domestic Violence in East Timor (pdf file)

Civil Society Defence and Security Monitor Requests Release of 2008 Report on Weapons Recovery

East Timor's gun-toting Police Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro
East Timor Legal News 18 August 2012 ETLJB  East Timor's leading defence and security sector monitoring civil society organisation, Fundasaun Mahein, has urged the police to release a report on the 2008 joint police-military operation to recover firearms from the community that were distributed during the 2006 political crisis.

Fundasaun Mahein's Research Coordinator, Jaoa Almeida Fernandes, also asked that the new government legislate tighter control of police assets, particularly, its weapons arsenal.

“Many people are concerned there are some illegal guns in their midst, so Police and the Secretariat of State for Security should carry out a thorough audit so the community will not be left in any doubt about the number of firearms retrieved,” Mr Fernandes said in a statement in Balide, Dili.

But Police Second Commander Afonso de Jesus said joint operation reports had already been published and everyone was aware that many guns had been confiscated.

“As a result of the joint operation, we recovered a lot of weapons and every time this happened it was reported to the District Commanders and by the media. Some were kept as evidence, so there must be only a handful of people who do not know the facts,” said Commissioner de Jesus.

The Commander  further guaranteed there were no longer any illegal weapons in the community, only homemade ones, which could be made by anyone at any stage.

“I want to impress on people that possession of homemade weapons is a crime,” said Mr de Jesus.

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From East Timor Legal News 01 April 2008
People in Liquica hand over weapons to the Joint Operation Command - The Commander of the F-FDTL/PNTL Joint Operation, Lieutenant Colonel Filomeno Paixao, said that people in Liquica voluntarily handed over three grenades, 11 traditional weapons (rakitan), and 429 pieces of ammunition to the Joint Operation Command in Liquica district. Paixao has appealed to all the people, including those working with NGOs and agencies who will be visiting the area around the operation, to contact the Joint Operation Command in Dili before departing in order to avoid areas where military operations are taking place.