22 September 2012

East Timor Legal News 21 September 2012

Location of Manufahi District
Illegal group frightens local residents of Tituloru in Alas - An illegal group of unknown people dressed all in black has appeared in Daisula and Titiloru villages in Alas in the Manufahi District frightening the local residents.

Radio Timor-Leste reported today that, local residents said that the group wore black uniforms and were moving around in the area in a car at night so it was not possible to identify who they were.

The local residents called on the security authorities, especially the national police, to provide security at night time because they wanted to remain calm.

Manufahi district Police has assigned one platoon of its officers to control and monitor the security situation in the area.
New Commander needed for police force, says Fundasaun Mahein - Civil society security sector monitoring organisation, the Mahein Foundation, has called on the government to appoint a new person from within the East Timor National Police force when the current mandate of Longinhos Monteiro ends next year. AHEIN Foundation (FM) has called on Government to appoint a person from Timorese National Police (PNTL) for assuming the post of General Commander when the current police commander Longuinhos Monteiro's mandate ends next year.

Research Coordinator for MAHEIN Foundation, Joao Almeida Fernandes said "Mr. Monteiro's term as Commissioner of Police will end in 2013 and we are hoping that the government will appoint another person from PNTL itself to assume the post because if a civilian were to be appointed as the Commander of PNTL, the police officers would not respect him," he said.
New Zealand to support Timor-Leste's defence and security sectors - The Government of New Zealand has declared its commitment to support East Timor's defence and security sectors when the current International Stabilisation Force ends later this year.

Televizaun Timor-Leste reported the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray Mcculy comments that he made during a meeting with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on Wednesday (19/9) at the Palace of the Government.

Mr. Mcculy said his Government was also ready to cooperate with Timor-Leste in the field of forestry and fisheries.

He was pleased with the meeting with the prime minister as he could directly hear about progresses that the country had achieved.

21 September 2012

New Public Prosecutor's Office inaugurated in Ermera District

Map showing location of Ermera District
East Timor Legal News 21 September 2012 - The East Timor Justice Minister, Dionisio Babo-Soares, in the company of the Vice-Minister, Ivo Valente inaugurated the new offices of the Public Prosecutor in Ermera District on 7 September last.

On the occasion of the inauguration, the Justice Minister said that it was an important development that would facilitate the community's access to justice and to resolve problems according to the law. The Minister also noted that the District of Ermera has the highest crime rate in the entire country.

“We will place two or three prosecutors, notaries, justice department officials and criminal investigation police officers initially, and go from there,” said the Minister.

Member of Parliament (MP) Mateus de Jesus said this was good progress because it facilitated people to access the courts and the legal system to resolve disputes.

“I believe these to be good processes and systems because it will alleviate the workload of the legal system in Dili,” said the MP.

20 September 2012

Meeting of the Council of Ministers 19 September 2012

ETLJB 20 September 2012 - The V Constitutional Government met this Wednesday, September 19, 2012, in the meeting room of the Council of Ministers at the Government Palace in Díli, and analysed:

1. Amendment to the Loan Agreement with JICA - The amendment proposed by the Ministry of Finance concerning the text in part of the Loan Agreement was signed last May. The new wording, agreed upon by both parties, prevents JICA from unilaterally suspending the Agreement unless the Government of Timor-Leste is in agreement.

2. Decree Law that approves the Organic Law of the Ministry of Finance - The Ministry of Finance approved its Organic Law which includes: managing the supply of goods procured for all Ministries and Secretaries of State; negotiating, signing and managing the implementation of contracts for public-private partnerships and the development of information systems of financial management in all departments and agencies of the Public Administration.

In general, the priority of the Ministry of Finance in this Government is to generate more revenues and, accordingly, the new Organic Law suits the challenges of the Government Programme and objectives of the Strategic Development Plan through 2030.

This structure facilitates the achievement of the objectives of economic stability, the analysis of the tax base, the strengthening responsibility systems and the provision of accurate and timely financial information.

East Timor Legal News 19 September 2012

Police killing of student case nearing completion - The case of the police shooting dead a student, Armindo Pereira Alves, after bashing him during the instability that broke out after the post-election CNRT conference in July when it was decided to exclude Fretilin from the V Constitutional Government is nearing completion according to the National Criminal Investigation Service Commander, Calisto Gonzaga. Police officers from the Hera police station were involved in the killing.

Diario Nacional reported today that Commander Gonzaga said that "the Hera case is about to be finalised. The process is continuing and right now we are still working on a few administrative matters."

The police officer suspected of involvement in the killing was suspended pending the results of the investigation.

Related stories
Police shoot dead a young man
Police officer who shot dead Armindo Pereira Alves suspended
Assault of security guard by military under investigation - The case involving the vicious assault of a civilian security guard at a Dili nightspot by soldiers including the son of the East Timor Defence Force is under investigation according to the Criminal Investigation Service Commander Calistro Gonzaga.

On 4 September, in Tuana-Laran, the victim Maximiano Amaral was seriously wounded after being assaulted by some of F-FDTL members at the My Flower bar in the capital on 4 September last.

It is understood that the soldiers bashed the guard because he was too slow in opening the gates to the carpark at the bar to allow the soldiers to enter.

Related stories
Tension between security institutions and community flares
East Timor Legal News 07 September 2012
East Timor Legal News 10 September 2012
East Timor Legal News 06 September 2012
President and Parliament concerned about land law - The Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo Soares and his deputy Ivo Valente have met with President Taur Matan Ruak to inform him about the Justice Ministry's programs.

Speaking to journalists, Deputy Minister for Justice, Ivo Jorge Valente said "the President of the Republic is considering some proposals from the Ministry for the finalisng the enactment of the land law," he said.

Meanwhile,Fretilin MPs in the Parliament consider the country's land law to be of critical importance and should be debated in the National Parliament.
"We, the MPs from Fretilin, consider that the land law must be discussed and we will do so after the Parliament's deliberations on the proposed law for the additional state budget that has been submitted by the Government for 2013," MP Aurelio Freitas said.

Mr. Freitas said land disputes have been happening every day in the country.

Related stories
President Horta sends land law back to Parliament
Parliament unable to amend the land law
Land disputes a continuing cause of violence in Timor-Leste
Communities in border area call on police to control drugs trafficking -Citizens living at the border area of Timor-Leste and Indonesia have called on the police to control drugs trafficking and other illegal activities.

Recommendations from the local communities were given through the representatives of the women's organisation in Timor-Leste, Laura Pina, in her speech when meeting with the State Secretary for Promotion of Equality (SEPI) at CAVR's office in Balidi of Dili.

"In security sector, the people in Bobonaro District call on the police to control drugs and human trafficking to protect young Timorese from various diseases," she said.

But the Criminal Investigation Service police (SIC) says that it has not identified any drugs trafficking in the country during the last nine months.

SIC commander, Superintendent Calistro Gonzaga, said that the statistics show that there were no drug trafficking cases filed between January and September this year.

East Timor Legal News 18 September 2012

Parliament delays debate on additional budget law - The National Parliament has delayed debate on the Government's proposed amendment to the budget law for additional appropriations as decided at the Council of Minister's meeting on 14 September.

The amendments proposed the following additional appropriations: over $ 55 million dollars  transferred to the Infrastructure Fund for two projects at Tasi-Mane and the expenses not paid into the Consolidated Fund in order to cover the following:

    Pension for Veterans – $ 26.9 million;
    Allowance for Seniors – $ 7.1 million;
    Contingency Fund – $ 6.1 million;
    Contingency Fund – $ 6.1 million;
    Ministry of Education – $ 1.7 million;
    Goods and Services – $ 2.4 million;
    Transfers to the Church and Civil Society – $ 1.4 million;
    Ministry of Health – $ 1.2 million;
    Operation of the Berlin-Nakroma – $ 1.2 million;
    Water and Sanitation – $ 1.2 million;
    Institute of Management Equipment – $ 1.2 million;
    External audit – $ 1.1 million; and
    Last payment to LIFESE by the Secretariat of State for Defence – $ 1.1 million.

The proposed amendment has been referred to Parliamentary Committee C for finance to analyse the proposal.

Meanwhile, Fretilin has called on the Government to amend the country's tax and finance laws to improve development.

Fretilin MP Estanislau da Silva made the call at the opening of a seminar on the additional state budget which was held at Hotel Flamboyan in Baucau on Monday (17/9).

Chief Judge concerned about judges' salaries - Timor Post reported today that East Timor's Chief Judge, Claudio Ximenes, who is the President of the country's highest court, the Court of Appeal, has expressed his concern about the salary levels of judges.

According to Judge Ximenes, the Government needs to improve judges' salaries in the expectattion that they would improve their work. Some of the judges has already informed their concerns about their salaries to the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak at a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Aitarak Laran in Dili on Monday (9/17).

"I attended the President's office to also discuss the conditions in the courts"," Mr. Ximenes said.
Defence Force completes second training exercise - The East Timor Defence Force completed its second training exercise called Cobra on 17 September last after a week and a half of military training in Bobonaro and Ermera.

The State Secretary for Defence (SED), Julio Thomas Pinto, said that the Cobra Exercise was a routine exercise which F-FDTL undergoes twice a year to acquaint F-FDTL members with the field and to improve their skills.

"The Exercise is done to maintain the armed force' capacity and to improve the commands' capacity in controlling the armed forces," he said.

19 September 2012

MP says crime levels on rise in Timor-Leste and criticises police

Police Commissioner Monteiro
ETLJB 19 September 2012 - CNRT Member of Parliament Jacinto Viegas Vicente, who is also a member of Parliamentary Committee B on Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security, has criticised the police force saying that it had failed to stop rising crime levels in the country.

“I recently visited Maliana where I heard there was a murder by person or persons unknown and was told the same had occurred in Dili, so to me it just means the police are not doing their job effectively,” he said in Parliament on 3 September 2012..

The MP  urged the police provide better security so people could feel free and secure when going about their daily lives.

The East Timor National Police General Commander, Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro, said he had raised this issue with all thirteen District Commanders.

“It is about changing the community policing system and we are channelling funds to resolve this problem,” said the Commissioner.

According to him however, good security depended also on the contribution of local authorities particularly especially from the Chefes de Suco and Chefes de Aldeia.

“Many a times the local authorities are scared of making declarations when the police arrive at the scene of a crime. Often say they don’t know anything about it, yet they are the local leaders, so how can they say they are not aware? By rights they should be legally compelled to cooperate with the police,” said Commissioner Monteiro.

Poverty a threat to security, say President Taur Matan Ruak

A woman scavenges on a Dili street
ETLJB 19 September 2012 - The new President of East Timor and former resistance leader of the armed struggle against the Indonesian occupation, Taur Matan Ruak says that the high levels of poverty in East Timor constitute a threat to security.

“Timor-Leste's leaders and its people have succeeded in resolving the big obstacles of the past such as fighting against the Indonesian occupation, but after independence we are not able to resolve small problems such as reducing poverty,” said the President of the Republic.

The President also said that if the people of Timor-Leste continue living in poverty, that will threaten the security and stability of the country.

The death of Uncle Antonio
In regard to poverty in East Timor, it is with great reluctance and sadness, that ETLJB wishes to draw our readers attention to the brutal reality of the deprivations and indignities which many citizens in East Timor suffer by re-publishing here a photograph of a recent tragic death of an older man on the streets of the capital Dili.

The photograph was published on Facebook last week. The poster wrote "This poor man died a lonely death in a public place, with only his dogs staying by his side.  He was known as Uncle Antonio was found dead on the steps of the Sporting Club building, in this half clothed state, with his two loyal dogs sitting above him as the only witnesses of his sad passing. He was known to be a poor street dweller who was often found begging including for food."

Uncle Antonio's death in such terrible circumstances, as well as the daily horror of going through rubbish on the street in order to survive such as this elderly lady faces defy comprehension; particularly when one has regard to the enormous wealth accumulated in the Petroleum Fund which has now passed US$10 billion.

Murder in East Timor the result of land dispute

Map of Bobonaro District
ETLJB 19 September 2012 A recent murder in the far western District of Bobonaro in East Timor was the result of a dispute over land.

Member of the East Timor National Parliament for Prime Minister's CNRT party, Jacinto Viegas, told Parliament on 3 September that this was the second time the alleged perpetrator had resorted to killing as a way of settling land disputes, having already being sentenced to four years in prison in 2006 for a homicide similar to this one.

"The deceased's body is in the morgue" said the MP.

The killing emphasises the urgent need to enact land laws in East Timor which, according to the Government, are pending debate in the Parliament.

The MP urged the pending land law be debated and approved as quickly as possible to prevent violence occurring over land disputes.

“Otherwise it will only escalate because everyone wants land,” said the MP.

Rede ba Rai (Land Network) Coordinator, Ines Martins, said these disputes began since the Portuguese occupation and continue to the current day.

According to her, local authorities must be involved when Government sends out survey teams to measure land parcels before issuing titles.

“The Village Chief, families and neighbours must all be present, so rightful ownership can be established. There needs to be a law though so people are clear on the issue, so the land law should be approved,” said Coordinator Martins.

She asked Members of parliament deliberate carefully keeping in mind the injustices which occurred during the periods of Portuguese and Indonesian occupation. Any new land law must take account of all interested parties' interests.

An earlier draft of the land law passed by the Parliament was vetoed by the then President Jose Ramos Horta in March this year because the law was not favourable to the people and he sent it back to the Parliament.

”We should be neutral to protect the people’s land and properties and should guarantee the rights of the landlord and to guarantee the investors who invest in the country,” Horta said at the time. Horta made a comment that the law is good but the MPs need to amend and reform some articles so that it could protect the people’s rights.

He added that some of the articles of the law should be amended in order to benefit the people of the country in the future.

Lucia Lobato, who was the Justice Minister in the IV Constitutional Government who oversaw the drafting of that land law (and who now stands convicted of abuse of power in another matter and is no longer the Justice Minister) said at the time that she was dissatisfied with the President of the Republic, Jose Ramos Horta, because he had vetoed the land law which had been approved by the National Parliament.

She said that she would appear in the Parliament to explain the law in more detail to the parliamentarians.

‘I will appear in the Parliament again to defend this law, because this law benefits all the citizens,” Minister Lobato said.

She added those groups that did not agree with the land law were the people who wanted a law which benefited the people who fled to other countries in 1975 when Indonesia invaded. 

Related stories
President Horta sends land law back to Parliament
Parliament unable to amend the land law
Land disputes a continuing cause of violence in Timor-Leste

An archive of information and reports on land issues in East Timor may be found on the East Timor Land Studies web site.

Extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on 14 September 2012

ETLJB 19 September 2012 - The V Constitutional Government met on Friday, September 14, 2012, in the Council of Ministers meeting room at the Government Palace in Dili and approved the First amendment to Law No 16/2011 approving the State Budget for 2012 .

This amendment to the Law No 16/2011 of  December 21, 2011 approving the State Budget for 2012 neither increases nor decreases the total state budget already approved by that law. This change only makes a reallocation of budgeted funds which relate to Annexes II, III and IV of this law.

Therefore, over $ 55 million dollars was transferred to the Infrastructure Fund for two projects at Tasi-Mane and the expenses not paid into the Consolidated Fund in order to cover the following needs:

    Pension for Veterans – $ 26.9 million;
    Allowance for Seniors – $ 7.1 million;
    Contingency Fund – $ 6.1 million;
    Contingency Fund – $ 6.1 million;
    Ministry of Education – $ 1.7 million;
    Goods and Services – $ 2.4 million;
    Transfers to the Church and Civil Society – $ 1.4 million;
    Ministry of Health – $ 1.2 million;
    Operation of the Berlin-Nakroma – $ 1.2 million;
    Water and Sanitation – $ 1.2 million;
    Institute of Management Equipment – $ 1.2 million;
    External audit – $ 1.1 million; and
    Last payment to LIFESE by the Secretariat of State for Defence – $ 1.1 million. 

ETLJB Editors Note: LIFESE, an Australian-based engineering firm whose chairman is the former NSW Liberal Member of Parliament and Supreme Court of NSW judge, John Dowd, was involved in a dispute with the Government of East Timor over the construction of the new patrol boat base at Hera to the east of the capital, Dili.

LIFESE had, according to a report in The Australian newspaper in February, 2011, had claimed more than $695,000 for damages, saying it had been unable to finish contracted work.

LIFESE had claimed that the East Timor Defence Forces had prevented the company's workers from entering the port site and, after spending $3.8 million, said it had run out of funds and accused the Gusmao government of failing to honour the contract and release further funds for building works to continue. In addition, materials imported from Australia had been stuck at Dili port, accumulating storage charges of $US7000 per day. 

It was observed by some at the time that the dispute arose as a result of a confict between civilian bureaucrats and the East Timor Defence Force over control of $7.7 million in funds to build the base, with Lifese caught in the middle.

18 September 2012

East Timor Legal News 17 September 2012

Remains of executed resistance leader exhumed - The East Timor National Police Forensic Unit last Thursday (13/09) exhumed the skeletal remains of a person believed to those of  an independence leader who was executed by the Indonesian Armed Forces in 1999.

The remains were discovered buried in Samiri, Balibo in the District of Oecusse near the border with Indonesia. The name of the deceased man was Mahudu.

Televizaun Timor-Leste reported today that the remains were exhumed after the village chief of Samiri, Agusto Dasabuti, publicly reported that he had witnessed the killing of Mahudu by an Indonesian soldier on 9 September 1999 after the popular consultation in which the East Timorese voted to break away from Indonesia that had illegally occupied the national territory from 1975 until 1999.

Speaking to journalists, Deputy Prime Minister Fernando Lasama de Araujo said that a DNA investigation of the remains would be undertaken to determine the exact identity of the deceased.

Independence leaders who fled East Timor for West Timor and other parts of Indonesia after the 1999 referendum were  hunted down by the Indonesian military and appealed to Australia to provide protection and, where necessary, grant them short-term political asylum. Independence supporters who managed to escape the militias were in hiding and did not have travel documents to get out of Indonesia.

The plea came via Australian East Timor support groups to the union aid agency, APHEDA, which said at the time that the killing of independence supporters was continuing in West Timor, Bali and other parts of the archipelago.

"The whereabouts of Mr Mahudu  who was one of Fretilin's key negotiators and his wife and family were of particular concern. It was reported at that time that after a meeting in Kupang with the leadership of the Indonesian military, Mahudu was taken into custody and had not been heard of since. 

Mahudu visited Australia in 1998  to attend a ceremony to mark the 23rd anniversary of the founding of the Timorese liberation army FALINTIL. On that occasion, Mahudu spoke of the unilateral moratorium the independence movement had placed on public demonstrations in East Timor until it became clear whether Indonesia was prepared to negotiate over the status of the territory. Earlier, Mahudu had been interrogated by Indonesian security forces in January 1995 following several outbreaks of violence across the country in protest against the occupation.
Banco Central de Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste Central Bank responsible for financial system - The Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, was reported by Radio Timor-Leste today as saying that the Timor Leste Central Bank was responsible for the sustainability of the financial system.

The prime minister made the comment during a ceremony commemorating the 1st anniversary of the Central Bank last Friday (14/09).

Mr. Gusmao recognised that the Central Bank was playing a very important role in regulating the financial sector and guaranteeing a secure balance of payments.

He added that the Government and the Central Bank would cooperate to formulate national economic policy based on the Government's plans.
Government to continue to use the petroleum fund - The Prime Minister has stated that the the policy of using money from the petroleum fund to fund the state budget.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said he maintained the Government's policy of continuing to spend the country's petroleum fund for financing the state budget.

Radio Timor-Leste reported today that the Prime Minister was responding to the opposition's concerns over the economic growth and the increase in poverty in the country.

Gusmao confirmed that the Government wanted to use the petroleum fund for investments in infrastructure, especially roads in the district and rural areas.
State Secretariat for Security defends purchase of police guns and lack of publicity - The State Secretary for Security, Francisco da Costa Guterres, was reported by Diario Nacional today as defending the purchase of weapons for the police from Indonesian state-owned enterprise, PT Pindad Pesero.

Mr. Guterres affirmed that he could not publicise the reasons whey the police needed to purchase the weapons because it was a state secret and there was no need for the public to know.

"We should trust in the Police General Commands. I am a politician and so on technical matters, I take advice from the Commands. The police command has the right to decide whether or not to purchase police weaponry from Indonesia, " he said.

Meanwhile, according to a report by Timor Post, Parliamentary Committee B for Defence and Security is planning to contact the National Police Commander, Longuinhos Monteiro, and State Secretary for Security, Francisco da Costa Guterres, to explain the loss of a police weapon.

President of the Committee B, Maria Lourdes Martins, said they were discussing the issue and would call upon the police commander and the state secretary for security to appear in the Parliament to explain about the missing weapon.

"We are currently discussing this issue within the Committee B. We will contact Monteiro and Guterres to explain about the police's weapon which went missing," she said.

15 September 2012

Police to acquire 72 MB5 guns from Indonesia

State Secretary for Security, Francisco Guterres
ETLJB 15 September 2012 The Secretariat of State for Security will purchase 72 MB5 guns for the police force from Indonesia.

The State Secretary for Security, Francisco Guterres said in Dili recently that the guns have been purchased but only 5 have been brought into East Timor for testing. A team will visit Indonesia and check the rest of them. If they do not meet the necessary standards, the Government will cancel the transaction.
“We need good quality weapons so that they last a long time,” said SE Guterres.

However, Member of the National Parlaiment David Diaz said that  there was no need for the PNTL to acquire expensive weapons.

“We have previously refused the purchase of weapons and by rights only the F-FDTL should be purchasing weapons, because I trust them,” protested Mr Diaz. He added that if weapons are purchased, they these weapons they should be value for money and last a long time, instead of throwing money away.
On 11 August this year, Tempo Semanal reported that PNTL had also procured a number of high powered PM2 submachine guns from Indonesian arms manufacturer, PT Pindad.

A senior PNTL officer informed Tempo Semanal that the PM2 submachine guns purchased from PT Pindad were found to be faulty during a training session the previous Saturday.

On that occasion, Tempo Semanal also reported that according to the packing list number 16/PL/DS/BD/VII/2012, dated July 24th 2012 PT. Pindad sent five units of 9mm caliber  to the PNTL (East Timor National Police). The Deputy Director of PT PINDAD signed the letter. Based on the reference order number 12000513 dated February 21th 2012.
30 SAR-2 anti riot gun

On the same day the Directorate for Weapon’s Systems signed of a packing list no. 15/PL/DS/P/BD/VII/2012 for 30 SAR-2 anti riot guns.*

In a request letter to head of East Timor Custom on 30/07/2012 PNTL General Commander Longuinhos Monteiro demanded that the weapons be handed over to PNTL.

There were four boxes arrived in Dili, Airport by Merparti Aero plane (MZ 8480) and is confirmed with manisfest which signed by Mr. Basilio de Araujo from PNTL and Mr. Aurelio A. Tilman from DAU on 31/07/2012.

Speaking anonymously a senior customs officer told Tempo Semanal, “the items was not allowed to be checked by the Customs Authorities and were released immediately so we do not know how many weapons were in fact imported into the country.”

The customs officer further told Tempo Semanal, “the total numbers of weapons appear to be same as those declared on the paper but the PNTL officer who collected them acted very suspiciously.”

Based on these reports, then, the number of weapons procured or in the process of procurement over the past few months for the East Timor National Police are 72 x MB5 guns, 5 (at least) x 9mm caliber sub machine guns model PM2-V1 and 30 SAR-2 anti riot guns. In addition, there have been reports of the proposed purchase of a tank and armoured personnel carriers from the same Indonesian weapons company, PT Pindad. PT Pindad is an Indonesian state-owned enterprise previously owned and managed by the Indonesian military.
*SAR-2 Cal 38 mm is single action anti riot gun to fire 38 mm cartridges, such as tear gas and rubber projectiles cartridges.Specifications: Calibre 38 mm; Barrel Length 360 mm; Weight 2,43 kg; Overall Length 746 mm; Mechanism Manual

Justice Minister Dionisio Babo-Soares entitled to presumption of innocence in alleged assault case

ETLJB 15 September 2012 - A woman has made public certain serious allegations against the V Constitutional Government's Justice Minister, Mr Dionisio Babo-Soares.

Minister Babo-Soares is also the Secretary-General of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction which won the largest block of seats in the National Parliament in the general election in 2012.

Justice Minister Babo-Soares publicly denied the allegations and Radio Liberdade then published a letter that the woman wrote to the radio station in response to the Minister's denial.

“I totally reject the news reports or false allegations attempting to defame me both as a person and as member of the fifth constitutional government,” the Minister for Justice told journalists.

The central difficulty with this matter is that the complainant does yet appear to have made any report to the police about the allegations. Furthermore, several parties have already reached the conclusion that her allegations are true before there has been a charge brought against Minister Babo-Soares, a court hearing or a conviction - which is the normal legal process governing allegations of criminal conduct in a democratic society under the rule of law.

A fundamental principle of the democratic rule of law is that persons against whom criminal allegations are made are entitled to the presumption of innocence and the Justice Minister has not been accorded this basic legal right. As Article 34 (Guarantees in criminal proceedings) of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor provides: Anyone charged with an offence is presumed innocent until convicted.

Rather, in this matter, there has been a trial and conviction by the media which would prejudice any legal proceedings if they are ever brought against the Minister who has not been afforded this guarantee.

The question that must be asked is if what the woman alleges is true, then why has she not immediately reported the allegations and made a statement to the police so that a decision could be made under due process whether or not charges should be made against the Minister. Instead, she has gone to the media with her allegations and attacked the Minister's integrity and reputation.

It appears also that there were no witnesses to the alleged assault.

Everyone should respect the individual's right to the presumption of innocence under the law; no matter whether they be an ordinary citizen or a high official of the state.

Victims of 2006 violence sue over house burning and looting

ETLJB 15 September 2012 - The Dili Weekly reported on 7 September that two residents of the Fatumeta suburb in Dili have sued three people in the Dili District Court accusing them of looting their properties and then burning them down during the 2006 crisis.

One of the plaintiffs in the action gave testimony in the Dili District Court last month that on 26 October 2006, the three defendants came to our houses and “called us firaku [Easterner] so we ran away and sought refuge at the seminary but when we came back our houses were burnt to the ground and everything we owned was gone.”

The other plaintiff alleged that the three defendants were members of a gang who were always armed and often insulted him.

“The chased us out of the neighbourhood and when we returned we were so heartbroken because everything had been stolen. Our belongings that were lost were worth US$1000,” he said.

One of the defendants said he was hanging around with the other two to help but not with the intention of stealing.

“My family and I were running for our lives, as there were people armed to the bone around us, so it doesn’t make sense that we were there to steal,” declared one of the defendants.

The defendants totally denied the accusations of theft.

The case was heard by a panel comprising Judges Antonio Gomes, Antoninho Gonsalves and Antonio do Carmo.

The judges demanded to hear the testimonials of all involved including one defendant who did not appear at the trial before sentencing.

MP says promotions in police force tainted by nepotism

ETLJB 15 September 2012 - A member of the East Timor National Parliament has criticised recent promotions in the police force as unfair and tainted by nepotism.

MP Moniz Maia from the opposition Fretilin party was reported in The Dili Weekly on 12 September as saying that
“no consideration was given to the length of service, or academic qualification. Rather, what we have observed is that most of those promoted were members of the police force during the Indonesian occupation. That is nepotism. Some of our graduates who hold university degrees have been overlooked for others without qualifications. This concerns us gravely.”

According to the MP Maio, the Senior Command of the PNTL should give preference to young officers who have clearly demonstrated intellectual capacity.

But the East Timor National Police General Commander, Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro, said that the process of promotions within the police force was the responsibility of the Government and the Public Service Commission supervising the promotion process.

“It is not up to me to explain and I would like to say simply that in my perception and in the spirit of national unity people should not be pigeonholed or referred to as former Indonesian police nor should references be made to the past,” said Commissioner Monteiro.

He hopes the Commission undertook this recruitment activity in a professional manner and whether people lamented or not this was a separate issue because the commission was simply complying with the rules defined by Government.

V Constitutional Government Program long on rhetoric, short on substance in relation to justice sector

Gusmao presents Government Program
ETLJB 13 September 2012 - On 12 September 2012, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao presented the V Constitutional Government's program to the National Parliament. The full text of the Prime Minister's speech may be read here.

ETLJB notes with concern that there is little mention of the justice sector, no references to the Court system or attention to law and justice issues generally throughout the entire lengthy speech.

Amongst the development strategy priorities, the Prime Minister stated that the Government would give its full attention to land tenure legislation that would implement fair and equitable rules that protect land ownership and transfer of land title and which would include land registration and the issuance of land titles. In this regard, it has been 10 years since independence and there is still no land law and no certainty of title or tenure. There is no discussion of customary land tenure system or foreign land ownership. The draft land law that was produced under the administration of the former, now disgraced Justice Minister, Lucia Lobato, was vetoed by Ramos-Horta when he was president.

The second reference to the law is made in relation to proposed amendments to the Law on Veterans to establish Veteran Councils in the Districts in order to safeguard the credibility of the verification and validation of registrations for entitlement to benefits under the Law on Veterans and to complete appealed and contested cases. This minor reform is put in the context of the "national development policy that is fair and that responds to the most vulnerable citizens". But while framing this reform in the context of supporting children, women at risk of abuse and the elderly, it is a mere minor modification of an existing law that confers benefits directly on veterans only and not to these vulnerable groups directly or in a substantive way. It is a bit of double-speak.

The Prime Minister then says that "in order for it to be successful, this (development) strategy must be supported by effective economic policies which includes the credit agencies, business regulations and the capacity building of the private sector. In that regard, the V Constitutional Government emphasises the following further priorities (which include reference to only one law):

- Improvement of the business environment, including a new investment law, the improvement and simplification of the business registration process and the strengthening of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and

- The consolidation of the institutional framework essential to sustain our development ambitions; the second being a vague generalisation without reference to the necessary policy or legal framework upon which such consolidation must rely.

In order to be considered to be a modern democratic state, the Prime Minister references "a strong public sector, internal security and national stability, and a credible justice system that safeguards the rights and guarantees of the Timorese".

But there are no statements of specific policies or legislative programs that advance these objectives. For example, there are no specific proposals (to mention just few) in relation to:

- reforms of the anti-corruption law to combat rampant corruption in the public administration (the most shameful example of which was the conviction of the former Justice Minister in Gusmao's IV Constitutional Government on abuse of power in a government procurement contract earlier this year);

- a law to require public officials to publicly declare their assets and interests;

- reforms aimed at reigning in an undisciplined and incompetent police force who continue to perpetrate illegal acts of violence against citizens, participate and support illegal gambling and prostitution, unlawfully carry weapons while off-duty and who are involved in martial arts gangs;

- reforms to address the problematical behavior of military personnel (the most recent example of which is the case of the military chief's son and 4 other soldiers brutally assaulting a civilian security guard at a night club in Dili as well as the killings of several defence force members over the last twelve months);

- transparency in the procurement of weapons and defence apparatus;

- specific reforms of budget allocations for the Courts, legal translators and interpreters in court proceedings or court facilities; or

- comprehensive legal aid programs for the poor, reforms of prohibitive court fees, programs for the translation, dissemination and community legal education on legislation enacted in the Portuguese language which few in the community can fully comprehend.

Admittedly, the Prime Minister's speech did mention investment in the training of criminal investigators in all necessary specialities, so as to ensure greater credibility in the cases that go to court and the continuation of reforms introduced in the sector of defence and security, enabling a more professional and efficient armed forces and police but only a general statement to review legislation already approved and to draft new legislation that reflects the country’s development level and that is "adjusted to our social and economic reality".

But overall, in short, the V Constitutional Government's program is long on rhetoric but short on substance when it comes to justice sector reforms.

East Timor Legal News 14 September 2012

State Secretary for Security denies police allegations of unusable radios - In response to the recent handing back of radio communication equipment by the police to the State Secretary for Security, the Secretary,Francisco da Costa Guterres, has strongly denied that the radios were unusable.

On 11 Septemter, Diario Nacional reported that the police logistics unit had returned 420 radio communicators to the State Secretariat of Security because the batteries that are necessary to operate the radios are too large. Tthe Director for the national police logistics unit, Basilio de Jesus, said that the radios could not be used because the batteries were too big.

"We have handed back all of these 420 radios to the State Secretary for Security along with 110 radio bus," he said.
Mr. Guterres said these radios were not out of order, but the police could not be able to operate them properly.

But according to the State Secretary for Security, the radios are not out of order. The police officers do not know how to use them properly, according to a report by Radio Timor-Leste broadcast today.

"They thought those radios are out of order, but they do know how to operate them," he said. He added that the company from which the radios were purchased was contacted to test the radios and they functioned well.

In other police new, the PNTL Commander, Commissioner Longinhos Monteiro has declared a zero-tolerance policy for police officer who are involved in martial arts that create instability in the community. Timor Post today reported that the Commissioner said that if a police office became involved in a political party or any martial art group, then that officer would be sanctioned.

"I appeal to the community to trust in the institution that is responsible for all people's security. If there is a PNTL member who creates instability in the community, I am calling on you to report to PNTL," he said.

Meanwhile, the V Constitutional Government is planning to make further reforms to the country's security sector in the future, State Secretary for Security, Francisco da Costa Guterres, is reported by Suara Timor Loro Sae to have said.

The reforms in the area of capacity building and careerr regime will be continued, he said.Guterres pledged to continue to provide training for the National Police (PNTL) in the future.
Government plans to purchase a tank - The V Constitutional Government plans to purchase a tank as part of its military budget. The tank will be purchased for the police force from Indonesian arms manufacturer, PT Pindad According to a report in the Timor Post, the Director of PT Pindad, Mr Avianto, said that the plan is "in the process of negotiations which we hope to finalise soon."

Mr. Avianto and his team will come to Timor-Leste this September to meet the Timorese delegation for the signing of the contract.

Related stories
No transparency in government purchase of weapons from Indonesia
PNTL buys PINDAD weapons and PNTL Intelligence Commander loses his semiautomatic assault rifle
Timor-Leste Will Buy More Guns?
Zero tolerance for domestic violence - According to the constitution women and children have rights to special protection such as protection from abandonment, discrimination, violence, abuse and negligence. The Fifth Constitutional Government will therefore adopt a zero-tolerance policy in relation to domestic violence.

The Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, said his Government would boost its commitment to give the same opportunities and rights for women as men have in all aspects of life and particularly in family, culture, society, economy and politics, reported Timor Post today.

"We will promote zero tolerance for violence against women and children because they have right to special protection under our Constitution," he said.

13 September 2012

East Timor Legal News 12 September 2012

Militia run amok in East Timor in 1999
Remains of a victim of the 1999 violence discovered - The skeletal remains of a person who is believed to have been victim of the violence in 1999 that followed the population consultation that decided that the then-27th province of Indonesia would break away and become an independent nations.

It was reported by Televizaun Timor-Leste today that it is believed that the remains that were found in Tibar in the District of Liquisa to the west of the capital, Dili are those of Mr Tiago Tofione.

Pro-integration Indonesian-sponsored militia are suspected of having murdered Mr Tofi in the aftermath of the 1999 UN-sponsored referendum.

The wife of the deceased, Mrs Joana Gomes, said that on 5 September 1999, pro-Jakarta militia men attacked a group of people taking refuge in the Dili Catholic Diocese building and that they took her husband away along with other independence supporters.

Mrs. Gomes never saw her husband again.

The Government and the National Police's forensic unit will need time to conduct a DNA test and Mr Tofi's remains will then be returned to Oe-Cusse District for burial.
Government to present additional state budget to Parliament - The Coalition Government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is going to present an additional state budget for this year to the National Government this week. The amount of the additional state budget for this year totals US$50 million.

The Deputy Parliamentary President Adriano Nacimento declared the Government' plan to request parliamentary approval to the amended state budget in the Parliament on Tuesday (12/9), reported Televizaun Timor-Leste.

"We are hoping that we will receive the entire proposed budget by the Government," he said.
Indonesia and Timor-Leste to discuss border issue - In the wake of recent clashes between Indonesian and East Timorese residents living near the border between the two countries, the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Marty Natalegawa is reported by Diario Nacional today that the two countries would continue discussing the issue of settling the entire border delineation next month.

Foreign Minister Natalegawa confirmed that the meeting of the Joint Border Commission would be conducted in the coming month.

"There are three important border survey points that the two countries to need to finalise. Therefore, Timor-Leste and Indonesia need to reach some progresses about the issue," he said.

Related stories
Chief of Staff of Indonesian Land Forces: Timor Leste Did Not Take Area of Land belonging to Indonesia
Indonesian officials discuss border tension with East Timor  
Residents on the Indonesia-East Timor Border agree to Resolve Conflict through Adat
Government officials yet to declare their assets - Diario Nacional reported today that the President of the Court of Appeal, Judge Claudio Ximenes, has stated that since the recent legislative elections, members of the government have yet to file their assets declarations in the Court of Appeal.

"So far only the president of the republic has declared his assets to the Court of Appeal and others have not yet declared their assets," he said.

Mr. Ximenes added that the Government officials would declare their assets shortly to the Court of Appeal.

Related stories
Government officials will not publicly declare their assets

12 September 2012

Anit-Corruption Commission meets with National Parliament Committee A

Aderito de Jesus Soares
ETLJB 12 September 2012 - On 4 September 2012, the Anti Corruption Commissioner Aderito de Jesus Soares led a team to meet for the first time with the President of Parliamentary Committee A on Constitutional Affairs, Justice, Local Power and Anti-Corruption comprised of MP Carmelita Caetano Moniz and her team.

During the meeting, Members of the Committee A were informed about the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission (CAC) over the last two years and its future work-plans. Progress has been achieved by the CAC in the areas of corruption crime investigation, prevention, education campaign and research, development of  Strategic Planning, and Timor-Leste’s involvement in implementing the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

The Members of the Parliamentary Committee were also informed about the challenges facing the Commission in those areas of works, particularly in relation to human resources capacity and the workplace.

In terms of future program activities, CAC presented the Committee with a concept note on asset declaration for further discusion.

After the presentation, Members of the Committee A were given an opportunity for questions and comments, during which all political partie represented on the Committee expressed support for CAC's and encouraged the Commission to continue institutional strengthening by providing capacity building for its staff. The Members also encouraged CAC to maintain its close collaboration with other institutions to ensure the effort of combating corruption is more effective.

Commissioner Aderito proposed regular meetings between CAC and Committee A for updating and information sharing. The proposal was unanimously welcomed by the Committee and it was decided that quarterly meetings would be scheduled as well as an attendance by the Committee at the office of the CAC.

East Timor Legal News 11 September 2012

Police Affairs: Budget increase sought, communication assets returned as unusable and appeals for return of stolen gun -The Deputy Commander of the National Police, Commissioner Afonso de Jesus, has appealed to the V Constitutional Government to increase the amount of the state budget which will be allocated for the police for 2013.

The commander made the comments after taking part in a meeting on discussing state budget for the police yesterday, as reported by Diario Nacional today.

"The leaders should look at PNTL's conditions and it should not only be based on the information the government ha compiled and distributed," he said.

He added that the police command had conducted meetings with all of the district police commanders to discuss the submission that command would submit tot he government regarding the budget allocation.

Meanhile, Diario Nacional also reported today that the police logistics unit had returned 420 radio communicators to the State Secretariat of Security because the batteries that are necessary to operate the radios are too large.

Speaking to journalists, the Director for the national police logistics unit, Basilio de Jesus, said that the radios could not be used because the batteries were too big.

"We have handed back all of these 420 radios to the State Secretary for Security along with 110 radio bus," he said.

In a separate report concerning police affairs by Timor Post today, police command has appealed to the person that took the missing police gun to return it.

Deputy Commissioner Afonso de Jesus said they had tried to find out the missing weapon, but they had not yet found it; therefore, he called on the person that took the weapon to hand it back to the police.

"If we love the country and its people, I am calling on you to return the weapon that you took because we have tried to find the weapon, but we have not yet found it," he said.

Related stories
Military chief calls for immediate dismissal of Police Commissioner 
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
Parliament delays debate on anti-corruption law - Diaro Nacional reported today that  MP Carmelita Moniz who is the President of Parliamentary Committee A on Constitutional Affairs, Public Administration, Local Power and Anti-Corruption said the anti-corruption law was responsibility of the Parliament, but it would prioritise first Timorese people's interest.

Ms. Moniz also said the Parliament would make efforts to debate the anti-corruption this year, although it was not a priority.

"We are trying to debate the anti-corruption law this year," he said at the House of the Parliament.

East Timor Law Journal - Towards the rule of law in Timor-Leste
East Timor Legal News Archive - An archive of legal news from Timor-Leste 2006-2008
East Timor Land Studies - A research portal on land issues in Timor-Leste

11 September 2012

East Timor Legal News 10 September 2012

F-FDTL Commander Lere Anan Timor
Military Command yet to receive report from vicitm in abuse case - The Timorese Defence Force Commander, Major General Lere Anan Timur,  said that the F-FDTL Command had not yet received any report about the recent case of soldiers, including his son, Boby, assaulting a civilian security guard, at a bar in Dili last week.

"We have received a report from the military police but we have not heard anything from the victim," said Commander Lere as reported by Televizaun Timor-Leste today.

"It is therefore difficult for us to make a decision on the case", he said.

The Commander also called on the community not to take such cases to the Office of the Prime Minister or the President because neither of them were judges.
Police have not yet found missing gun - Televizaun Timor-Leste reported today that the Commissioner of Police, Longinhos Monteiro has said that the police have not yet found the gun that was lost by one of his officers at a brothel in Dili last month.. The Commissioner appealed to the community to help find the missing weapon.

The Commander made the comments after signing a memorandum understanding with Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) last Friday (7/9/2012.

He added that the police were continuing their investigation of the case and confirmed that the police officer who lost the gun had been suspended.

“It has not yet been found but we are continuing our efforts to locate it. If anyone in the community finds the gun, it must be handed back to the police because it belongs to the state,” he said.

Commissioner Monteiro denied widespread rumors that there were about 30 police guns missing.

Jornal Independente reported the Commissioner has saying that "it is only one gun that has gone missing, not thirty as some reports have said".

He added that the person who took the gun will be prosecuted because stealng is a criminal offence.

Meanwhile, Diario Nacional reports that the former guerrilla fighter Commander for Region III, Cornelio “L-7” Gama has called on the National Police (PNTL) Commander Longuinhos Monteiro to be responsible for the missing police weapon.

Mr. L-7 said he was concerned about the police’s weapon that has gone missing and said it was because of the incapability of the General Commander, Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro.

“We in FALINTIL [national liberation army] are concerned about the police weapon that was lost or stolen. The police commander should take responsibility for the case,” he said.

He added that the missing weapon could severely impact on security as it could be used to threaten people’s lives.
Indonesian ambassador says good bye to President TMR -  The Indonesian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Eddy Setia Budi, has met with the President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak to say good bye as his mission in Timor-Leste has ended.

Speaking to journalists, Mr. Setia Budi said that he appreciated Timor-Leste’s contribution to peace and stability both within the country and between Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

“Since 2002 up to present ,Timor-Leste has reached some progresses in security and peace,” he said.

08 September 2012

Timor Leste Land Network asks Hilary Clinton ‘not to abandon the people’s land rights’ and criticises USAID-funded land program

The Our Land program logo
East Timor Legal News 08 September 2012 - The peak land rights advocacy civil society organisation in East Timor, Rede ba Rai* (Land Network), has sought to draw the attention of the United States Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, to the issue of land rights in the country and has made strong criticisms of the land law program that has been funded by USAID.

In a press release on 4 September 2012, during a an official visit by Mrs. Clinton to East Timor, Rede ba Rai asked that the United States government to guarantee that  "the US Government will not abandon the Timorese people who have already been involved in land registration in Timor-Leste through the SPRTL program (Strengthening Property Rights in Timor-Leste) and the INR (Ita Nia Rai) project."

In 2008 the Government of America started the SPRTL program in Timor-Leste to strengthen property rights, reduce conflict and promote economic development but it was closed last month (August 2012) even though the program's objectives had not been achieved.

According to Rede ba Rai, the program had several serious deficiencies.

Firstly, the drafting of the land law that was subsequently rejected by the then President Jose Ramos Horta and remitted back to the Parliament for review, was undemocratic because there was no effective consultation with the community and was drafted in accordance with the demands of the political elite, many of whose large land holdings were lost during the Indonesian occupation. There is still no land law and no Land Commission. Nor has there been adequate consideration of the core issues. This occurred despite the program references important principles such as transparency, community participation and independence from political influences.

Furthermore, much of the data which the project handed over to National Directorate of Land and Property is flawed and incomplete. In January 2011 USAID’s audit report said that 39% of the land claims collected were inaccurate. In December 2011 an internal verification team said that 50% of the Dili claims were incomplete. As at 20 February 2012, 54892 land claims had been registered with the Ita Nia Rai program.
The program also failed to resolve disputes that arose out of the flawed land registration process. According to Rede ba Rai, the mediation processes were deeply dysfunctional and under resourced. Rede ba Rai conducted a survey earlier this year which found that, in 5 years, only 4 cases accessed mediation. Less than 4% of disputes have been resolved. In March 2012, 1900 (of a total 2638 claims that were eligible for mediation) had not been contacted by mediation teams and/or offered access to mediation.

Land disputes continue to be a leading cause of violence in East Timor.

 In addition, the program did not take account of the political economy of Timor-Leste. It did not manage to promote meaningful dialogue about land issues. Timor-Leste still has no land policy. Despite the fact that the USAID program is the biggest program in Timor-Leste’s land sector, it did nothing to prevent the illegal forced evictions that have been happening since 2003 when the Law No 1 of 2003 on Immovable Properties was passed by the Fretilin-controlled parliament at the instigation of the government. There have been many evictions carried out by the government under this law.**

Finally, there was very little integration between the land registration program and the National Directorate of Land and Property so the Directorate is not prepared to take over the land registration function.

If land right holders are not issued with certificates of title following a proper land right registration process, then the Government and private capital will be much more easily able to perpetrate land injustices; particularly against vulnerable, disempowered groups and individuals and that will weaken, not strengthen, land rights in East Timor. The consequent social problems will be exacerbated as USAID is also reducing funding to the legal sector and that will further limit the people who's land will be taken unjustly to seek access to the courts to have their rights upheld.

In view of all of the foregoing, Rede ba Rai has made several recommendations, as follows:

1. That the Unites States government, through its international aid agency, USAID, will continue to funding including  the necessary technical expertise and collaborate with the Government of Timor-Leste to correct the mistakes and inaccuracies that have occurred in the land registration program as well as conduct an urgent social impact assessment of the land registration process;

2. That the US government will provide long-term support to the Government and people to guarantee just and sustainable access and rights to land;

3. That the vision and objectives of USAID land projects be adapted to the complexities of land issues in Timor-Leste and not based solely on the narrow vision of economic development but on principles of social justice and the socio-cultural context of Timor-Leste;

4. That future USAID work in the land sector will be more democratic and that USAID will not be involved in legislative drafting which is not based on popular consultation with the Timorese people.

*Rede ba Rai is a coalition of 20 national and international NGO’s working on promoting access and rights to land that are just and sustainable for all Timorese people. To receive more information about Rede ba Rai and/or this press statement please contact National Co-ordinator Santina A. Fernandes at +67077922648 and/or email us at redebarai@gmail.com. 

** See, for example, the following posts on East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin and the East Timor Land Studies web site:
East Timor Land Law fuels fears of evictions
Court should make fair verdict in land eviction cases
Justice Ministry's evictions of residents not based on the law
8 Myths about Evictions in Dili and the ex-Brimob case
Undemocratic evictions continue in East Timor
Rede ba Rai Press Release: More evictions to come
Protests as East Timor police evict 1000 residents
Food vendors yet to be moved from Pantai Kelapa  
Police expel people living in government properties
Police evict family occupying property for 30 years

There are many more reports of evictions and land disputes recorded on both the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin and the East Timor Land Studies web site. Please use the ETLJB Google custom search engine to read more.