29 November 2012

Unconstitutional discrimination in Defence Force recruitment policy declared by Major General Lere

Image of Major General Lere Anan Timor
Major General Lere Anan Timor
ETLJB 29 November 2012 - As we know, the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor prohibits discrimination against citizens on several bases. Those bases are set out in Article 16 of the Constitution, the unofficial English translation of the provisions of which provides as follows:

Section 16
(Universality and Equality)
1. All citizens are equal before the law, shall exercise the same rights and shall be subject to the same duties.
2. No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of colour, race, marital status, gender, ethnical origin, language, social or economic status, political or ideological convictions, religion, education and physical or mental condition. (emphasis added)

However, in an extraordinary statement of the chief of the East Timor Defence Forces (FALINTIL-FDTL) as reported by Timor Post on Monday, 26 November 2012, a clear and unambiguous declaration of discrimination of the basis of real or presumed political or ideological conviction has been articulated.

The report by Timor Post states that Major General Lere Anan Timor has promised to change the recruitment system for members of the defence forces so that the sons and daughters of pro-Indonesian autonomy supporters do not continue to be recruited into the F-FDTL.

According to the Timor Post report, the General acknowledged that the recruitment system for members of the F-FDTL last year continued to fail in that it was unable to identify those candidates who were the sons and daughters of pro-Indonesian autonomy supporters.

The English translation of the Major-General's comments reported by Timor Post is: 

"It is my fault. But I promise you that this failure will not reoccur next time," Major General Lere told the Timor Post following his participation in the certificate award ceremony for the Sacred Family organization which took place in the Dili suburb of Vila-Verde last Saturday, 24 November 2012.

The English translation of the report continues as follows:- "Lere acknowledged that there is a current serving F-FDTL major whose parents were militia members and who are currently living in Kupang, Indonesia, whose promotion has been questioned by many people but whom Lere said he could stop the promotion of because he was an officer already.

"These failures that occurred in the past will not reoccur in the future.  In the future I will set up a recruitment team that is professional in ensuring that they undertake a thorough investigation of individual candidates before they formally accept their application forms," Lere promised."  

In the opinion of ETLJB, such a policy is in flagrant violation of the non-discrimination provisions of the Constitution of East Timor as cited and emphasised above. It is of central importance that the basic principles and dictates of the Constitution be adhered to by all and particularly by the institutions of the State. Violation of these principles render the actions of the state unconstitutional and unlawful. Once the state begins to act in contravention of the Constitution, then the idea of the state under the law is eroded and begins a dangerous process that can lead to the capricious and arbitrary state of a dictatorship.

Warren L. Wright BA LLB

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