28 April 2013

Community Land in East Timor: Compensation for Acquisition for Public Purposes

ETLJB 28 April 2013 - A recent press release from the Government of East Timor reported that an agreement had been reached regarding the surrender of 1,113 hectares of community lands in Covalima District for the public purpose of a government supply base. The press release stated that the agreement had been reached after a long period of consultation with the local community. It also noted that the the benefits for the community from the supply base project would "come in the form of jobs for local people during both the construction and operational phases, landowners are to be recompensed through a 10% share of profit from the project." In addition, the press release asserted that that compensation "is a far more significant share than has been offered to traditional landowners in other countries including Australia."

The reference to the system of compensation to traditional landowners in Australia is an interesting one that warrants some closer consideration and scrutiny.

Firstly, it is not really apposite to compare the relative positions of traditional land owners in East Timor and Australia. This is because in Australia, the ownership of land and the existence of other rights over land by indigenous Australians such as fishing, hunting and gathering, sacred sites and so forth are actually enshrined in the law. In addition, there are juridically-constituted entities such as indigenous land councils that represent and act on behalf of the indigenous communities when the government wants to acquire traditional lands for public purposes or private enterprise wishes to exploit natural resources on native title lands or undertake pastoral or tourism ventures on native title land. All of this puts the Australian indigenous communities in a much stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis the state or private capital whereas neither of those things exists in East Timor. There is no law that acknowledges community land ownership or that constitutes bodies to represent the communities who have owned the land (in so far as ownership of community land can be approximated to the Western legal notions of property ownership) since time immemorial.

In Australia, following the famous Mabo decision of the High Court in 1992 that native title continued to exist on the continent, the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) enable Aboriginal people to lodge claims for native title. Native title is a concept recognised by the common law and legislation which establishes that a particular group holds specific native title rights and interests.

There is no such law or jurisprudence in the legal system of East Timor. Furthermore, if any Australian government acquires the native title land absolutely for a public purpose, then it is liable to pay just compensation to the community - with just compensation being the current market value of the land.  Current market value is the international standard for compulsory acquisition of property and, in the case of the federal Government in Australia, it is constitutionally-bound to pay compensation on just terms. Again, there is no such law or jurisprudence in East Timor.

There is a host of other questions arising from this development. For example, with whom did the Government of East Timor negotiate? Who represented the affected communities and what rights did they have to enter into agreements with the government about the community's lands? Was the community afforded access to legal advice? Was the agreement written in a language that is understood by the community? What exactly are the terms of the agreement and what happens, for instance, if no profits are generated from the project? Ten percent of nothing is nothing.

What are those profits and how are they expected to be generated? How will the 10% be held, managed and distributed for the benefit of the community? Have the community's land rights been extinguished forever or do some rights continue to co-exist with the rights that have been ceded to the government by the agreement?

All such questions are comprehensively dealt with under the law in Australia. 

It is, therefore, in this writer's view, disingenuous of the government of East Timor to draw any comparisons to the traditional land ownership in East Timor and that in Australia. 

Author: Warren L. Wright. Fomer Solicitor to the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service, former UNTAET Property Rights Adviser; former Senior Legal Officer, NSW Land Titles Office.

27 April 2013

Drug trafficking in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 27 April 2013 - Illegal drug trafficking and use in East Timor is a significant social problem in East Timor that has become increasingly problematical in recent times. Over the last year, there have been significant seizures of illegal drugs and arrests of traffickers and those in possession of illegal drugs.

According to a report in the leading media publication, Tempo Semanal in November last year, between August and November of that year, dozens of foreigners, including Indonesians as well as citizens of African and European countries were arrested in connection with narcotics smuggling in East Timor. The total value of the drugs that have been seized was estimated to be between US$10 - $15million.

At that time, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, was reported to have acknowledged that East Timor was becoming a transit zone for criminals smuggling drugs into both Indonesia and Australia.

On 17 December 2012, the State Secretary of Defence, Julio Tomas Pinto, was quoted in Jornal Nacional Diario as saying that the Timorese military forces were to be deployed at the border with Indonesia to combat drug traffickers and networking. According to the leading security monitoring civil society organisation, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), that constituted "a kind of declaration of a war against drugs in East Timor", in much the same was as Western nations have declared wars on drugs.

At the meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers on April 23, 2013, the Government approved a Draft Resolution approving the Adhesion to the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and at a meeting between the Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Luis Guterres and State Secretary for Security, Francisco da Costa Guterres on 25 April, the Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo said that many young Timorese were currently taking drugs which had been illegally distributed.

“Young people here have started using drugs and it will destroy our society,” Minister Babo told journalists.

He added that, the Government was cooperating with neighboring countries in order to help assist East Timor through their laboratories for analysing drugs. Sources: Televizaun Timor-Leste 26 April 2013; ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

Meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers on April 23, 2013

ETLJB 27 April 2013 - The V Constitutional Government met on April 23, 2013 in the Council of Ministers Meeting Room, at the Government Palace, in Díli, and approved the following:

1. Draft Resolution approving the Adhesion to the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

The Government approved, for adhesion, the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, thereby augmenting the instruments of struggle against narcotraffic and against money laundering.

2. Draft Proposal approving the Adhesion to the United Nations Convention for Suppression of Terrorism Financing

The Government approved, for adhesion, the United Nations Convention for Suppression of Terrorism Financing, thus reaffirming its commitment to the struggle against Terrorism. This Convention constitutes an adequate instrument for the struggle against money laundering and terrorism financing, thereby responding to the commitment of Timor-Leste in its capacity as full- fledged member of the United Nations and Interpol.

3. Resolution approving the Blacklist of Individuals and Entities Linked to Al-Qaeda

By ratifying the United Nations Charter in 2002, Timor-Leste has a number of obligations to accomplish in its capacity as Member State of the Security Council and of Interpol, notably the need to ensure compliance with the Resolutions relating to the struggle against International Terrorism, including the struggle against individuals and entities linked to Al-Qaeda. Thus, the Government approved the latest version of the Blacklist of Individuals linked to Al-Qaeda as published by the respective Committee of the United Nations Security Council. The Government is also to take all other preventive measures relating to the struggle against international terrorism.

4. Government Resolution approving the Procurement Procedure and the Minutes of the Contract to be signed with TIMOR GAP, E.P., for the Supply of High Speed Diesel

Following the approval by the Council of Ministers, on 5 March 2013, of the Government Resolution on the Need to Ensure the Supply of Fuel to EDTL and the Appointment of TIMOR GAP, E.P., to Supply High Speed Diesel, the Council of Ministers, in its meeting held today, approved, with corrections, the contents of the contract to be signed with TIMOR GAP, E.P., for the supply of high speed diesel to EDTL. The Minister for Public Works was mandated to submit the contract to the Chamber of Commerce for prior approval.

5. Decree-Law approving the General Regime of the National Programme for Suco Development

In complying with the Programme of the V Constitutional Government and the National Strategic Development Plan for the period 2011-2030, the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee and the Inter-Ministerial Technical Working Group have been established in order to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of a national mechanism to accelerate community development.

Such initiative translates the political will to establish a stronger link of the Government with the sucos, providing them with tools for a sustainable development, thereby promoting social and economic well-being, quality of life and social and economic cohesion, through the participation of the community in its own development process. Compliance with these objectives justifies the granting of financial support by the Government to entities providing services of general interest to the population.

Thus, allowances will be granted directly to sucos for the execution of small infrastructure projects previously identified as constituting a priority for the local community.

The Government, through the Ministry of State Administration, will be in charge of the initial training of professional teams so as to enable their adequate participation in the implementation of the General Regime of the National Programme for Suco Development. The Government will also be in charge of its supervision and follow-up through the Technical Secretariat for Support to the National Programme for Suco Development.

The Council of Ministers also analysed the following:

1. Presentation of the Report of the Central Report

Following the Process of Mutual Evaluation of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering for Timor-Leste, the Governor of the Central Bank presented to the Council of Ministers the Plan of Action for the implementation of the recommendations proposed by the Asia-Pacific Group (Portuguese acronym GAP) for Timor-Leste.

The recommendations of the GAP are contained in the Report of Mutual Evaluation. This document makes an evaluation of the Legal and Institutional System and broaches preventive measures intended for financial and non-financial institutions, including forms of national and international cooperation with a view to a sustainable development of the sector in Timor-Leste. The report of Timor-Leste will be discussed during the GAP annual meeting to take place in Shanghai, the Republic of China, next July.

2. Statistics and respective Policies

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) presented the Council of Ministers with the Fundamental Principles of the United Nations Official Statistics. These are the principles on the basis of which the Australian Bureau of Statistics governs itself for conducting statistics in Australia. With this presentation, it is the intention of the Australian Bureau of Statistics to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to the importance of implementing a statistical system in the national territory, with policies of international scope, in order to maximize efficiency in the collection of statistical data  and in favor of international harmonization. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers Press Release 23 April 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

26 April 2013

Timor Leste Parliamentary Committee A to prioritise land, municipalities and anti-corruption laws

ETLJB  26 April 2013 - In 2013 the Commission A of the National Parliament will give priority to three laws: Local Powers, Land Law and the Anti-Corruption Law.

According to the President of Commission A, MP Carmelita Caetano Moniz, the three laws are the Local Power Law composed of a package of seven pieces of legislation, the Land Law composed of a package of three pieces of legislation and the Anti Corruption Law.

“Within this year we will try hard to debate these laws and take them to the plenary for approval,” said MP Moniz.
She added of the three law, the Land Law is the most important to be debated and approved at the National Parliament because there are many land disputes in the country.

Meanwhile CNRT MP Francisco da Costa said these laws must be adequately debated and approved by the parliament so some of the problems that have occurred can be regulated.

“But I don’t know yet about the status of the Land and Property Law and the Anti-Corruption Law because the law I have at the moment on my table is the Municipalities Law,” said MP da Costa.

The MP has concerns with the fact the laws are in Portuguese and urges them to be translated into Tetum so they can be easily understood.

“So we can provide feedback to one another. I think it is very important to approve these laws and laws are important to regulate citizens,” added MP da Costa. Source: The Dili Weekly Edited by Warren L. Wright

Timor-Leste’s National Oil Company Commences First Exploration Activity

ETLJB 26 April 2013 - The newly established national oil company of Timor-Leste, TIMOR GAP E.P. has signed its first production sharing contract allowing Timor-Leste for the first time to participate directly in a joint venture for the exploration and development of oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.

On the 13th of April, through it’s wholly owned subsidiary TIMOR GAP PSC 11-106, Unipessoal, Lda, the national oil company signed a Production Sharing Contract, along with Joint Venture Partners ENI and INPEX, to explore an area in the Joint Petroleum Development Area known as Contract Area JDPA 11 – 106. The contract area is located approximately 240km south of Dili and 500km northwest of Darwin, covering an area of 662 Sq km, adjacent to the offshore Kitan oil-producing field. The Production Sharing Contract sets out the agreement between the Joint Venture Partners and the official regulator of the JDPA, the National Petroleum Authority (ANP).

In the Joint Venture Partnership ENI have a share of 40.53% and are the Operators, INPEX Offshore Timor- Leste, Ltd. has 35.47% and TIMOR GAP PSC 11 – 106, Unipessoal, Lda. has 24%. The partners are committed to drill two exploration wells during the first two years and have options for two contingent wells.

The contract signals a strong confidence in Timor-Leste’s leadership, stable political climate and inviting resource environment for investment, with operators including ENI and INPEX committing to the Joint Venture Partnership. Timor-Leste’s new partners in the premier project for the Timor GAP aligned themselves to the three main policies of the Government in the Petroleum Sector which include; maximum participation, maximum benefits and diversification.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, His Excellency Alfredo Pires noted that this direct participation was a “game changer” for the nation of Timor-Leste and explained that the 24% share was both a good starting point for the capacity levels of the National Oil Company and a deeply symbolic number for many Timorese, marking the number of the years of Timor-Leste’s struggle for freedom. The Minister emphasized that after 400 years of colonial rule and 24 years of occupation Timor-Leste’s direct participation in the exploration and development of natural resources in the Timor Sea was long overdue.

The TIMOR GAP’s objective is to act on behalf of the State of Timor-Leste in conducting business within the petroleum and gas sector, including activities ranging from onshore to offshore and national to international.

Spokesperson for the Fifth Constitutional Government, Ágio Pereira noted “this new venture is a proud moment for Timor-Leste as we participate directly for the first time in the exploration and development of oil and gas resources in the JPDA and continue in our mission to ensure maximum participation and maximum benefits to the people of Timor-Leste.” ENDS Source: Government of East Timor Press Release 24 April 2013 

Related stories
First Oil and Petroleum Tax Case delivers positive result, says Timor-Leste Government
Timor-Leste goes to court to protect tax revenue
East Timor Government corrects inconsistencies in international media on oil and gas and criticises local NGO Lao Hamutuk for misinformation and "leaking" reports

Convicted former Justice Minister may be released pending extraordinary appeal

ETLJB 26 April 2013 - According to an English translation of a media report published by Diario Nacional on 24 April 2013, there is a possibility that prisoner and former Minister for Justice, Lucia Lobato, will be freed next week based on a new extraordinary appeal lodged by her lawyer, Jose Pedro Camoes.

“There is information that our client might be freed next week because of a new extraordinary appeal that we submitted to Appellate Court a few days ago that was supported by new evidences,” Camoes said.

A furore has erupted over the case over the last few weeks with the President of the Court of Appeal being reported by Diario on 19 April as saying that he would take legal action against Fretilin National Parliament member, Aniceto Guterres, who accused the judge of trying to free the defendant Lucia Lobato.

“Aniceto Guterres has made public a falsehood to the media and damaged my dignity and the Appellate Court’s credibility. Therefore, I am calling on Aniceto Guterres’ responsibility through legal action,” Claudio Ximenes said in a Press conference at the Appellate Court of Dili recently.

He added that he had never made promises to Lucia Lobato about her freedom from jail and said he had no interest in this process.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Prime Minister Mario Viegas Carrascalao, was reported by Suara Timor Lorosae on 19 April as saying that there was something wrong with the case of the former Minister for Justice, and urged the Appellate Court to investigate it

Speaking to journalists, Carrascalao said Timor-Leste had four sovereign state bodies - the Government, the Presidency, Parliament and Court and each of them work based on the constitution but if something is wrong in the court, that should be investigated based on the law existing.

Timor Post also reported on 17 April that Lucia Lobato’s lawayer had reported his client’s case to President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) because of his allegation that some politicians were behind the court’s verdict.

“We came here to inform [the President] about some failures that occurred in the process of justice in the country. Therefore we asked the president to look at this issue as it can impact on the credibility of the court,” Pedro Camoes said.

Camoes reported said that the President would contact judges in the court to improve mistakes which had occurred in the court as it would impact judicial system of the country.

He said some judges had worked unprofessionally and were not impartial, “I have an obligation which regards this case because it will kill the process justice in the country,” he said. Sources: TLMDC, Diario Nacional, Timor Post, Suara Timor Lorosae. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related stories
Former Justice Minister Lobato loses appeal and is jailed
Former Justice Minister Lucia Lobato to go to jail for 5 years 
Convicted former Justice Minister Lucia Lobato still not in prison
Timor Justice Minister considers appeal
Lobato ‘Ready to Explain Truth’ as Corruption Trial Begins
Anti-Corruption Commission applies for house arrest of Justice Minister Lobato
East Timor Justice Minister Lobato Defends Husband
Public Prosecution presents new witnesses for Minister Lobato's case
Former East Timor justice minister receives jail sentence
Parliament removes Minister Lobato’s political immunity 
CJITL: Minister for Justice Lucia is Formally Made Suspect in Maternus Bere Case 
Perversion of the rule of law in Timor-Leste and its impact on State legitimacy

U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Timor-Leste

ETLJB 26 April 2013 - There follows some extracts from the United States Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in East Timor. The permalink for the complete report on East Timor is at the foot of this post.

Principal human rights problems included police use of excessive force during arrest and abuse of authority, arbitrary arrest and detention, and an inefficient and understaffed judiciary system that deprived citizens of due process and an expeditious and fair trial.

Other human rights problems included poor prison conditions, warrantless search and arrest, uneven access to civil and criminal justice, corruption, gender-based violence, and violence against children including sexual assault.

The government took concrete steps to prosecute members of the security services who used excessive force or inappropriately treated detainees. However, public perceptions of impunity persisted.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life - There were no politically motivated killings by the government or its agents during the year; however, on July 16 a member of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) shot and killed a young man, allegedly without provocation, while responding to election-related unrest in Dili. The PNTL suspended the officer immediately and opened an investigation that continued at year’s end.

In April the government indicted six Defense Force (F-FDTL) soldiers on charges related to the 2010 beating to death of a civilian in Laivai, Lautem. Their trial had not begun at year’s end.

- There were incidents of cruel or degrading treatment of civilians by police and military personnel. In September 2011 a new law governing the use of force by the police came into effect. It limits the situations in which officers may resort to physical force and the use of firearms. Despite the new law, parliamentarians, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), and the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice received complaints about the use of excessive force by security forces. There were 10 incidents of alleged unlawful discharge of a firearm by PNTL officers, including four by off-duty officers. Most complaints involved beatings, use of excessive force during incident response or arrest, threats made at gunpoint, and intimidation.

On April 1, nine uniformed members of the F-FDTL allegedly and unlawfully searched and mistreated a man in Covalima, leading to his hospitalization. The case was under criminal investigation at year’s end.

On June 4, three members of the Public Order Battalion of the police beat a young man in Dili at the time of his arrest. After his arrest, the man claimed other officers beat him at the police station.

NGOs accused police of using excessive force while responding to protesters during a May 1 labor strike. After some of the demonstrators threw stones, police tried stopping the event using tear gas and arresting 85 people. At least four protesters were hospitalized, and many complained of police brutality when interviewed by UN personnel.

In August 2011 a detained woman accused members of the PNTL of beating her while in custody in Baucau District. The PNTL denied the accusation, but an official investigation opened by the Ministry of Justice continued at year’s end.

Arbitrary Arrest or Detention - The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, there were many instances in which these provisions were violated, often because magistrates or judges were unavailable to issue warrants or make determinations on detentions.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention - The law requires judicial warrants prior to arrests or searches, except in exceptional circumstances; however, violations of this provision often occurred. The extreme shortage of prosecutors and judges outside of the capital contributed to police inability to obtain required warrants.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial - The law provides that judges shall perform their duties “independently and impartially without improper influence” and requires public prosecutors to discharge their duties impartially. A wide array of challenges in the judicial system constrained access to justice. Among the challenges were concerns about the impartiality of some judicial organs, a severe shortage of qualified personnel, and a complex legal regime based on different legal sources, including Portuguese-era, Indonesian-era, and interim UN administration-era law. An additional constraint is that laws are written in Portuguese, a language not spoken by the majority of the population.

Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence - The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.

A 2003 land law broadly defines what property belongs to the government and faced criticism for its alleged disregard for many private claims. The government evicted some residents of land defined as public property, inciting criticism of the law from local human rights groups.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government - The law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials engaged in corrupt practices. By law the Anti-Corruption Commission (CAC) is charged with leading national anticorruption activities and has the authority to refer cases for prosecution. The government established the CAC in 2010, taking responsibility for corruption cases from the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice. The Office of the Prosecutor General, which has ultimate authority for all criminal prosecutions, may also direct the CAC to investigate specific corruption cases. During the year the Office of the Prosecutor General brought more than 50 corruption cases to court.

In July a court sentenced Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of misadministration of funds. The Court of Appeals denied her appeal in December and increased the length of her sentence to five years. Authorities also indicted former minister of state administration and territorial administration Arcangelo Leite on charges of abuse of power. His case was dismissed, but the prosecutor appealed, and a decision from the Court of Appeals was pending.

There were accusations of police corruption. Some of the accusations involved bribes accepted by the border police along the extensive land borders with Indonesia, and bribes accepted by police from brothels that engaged in trafficking in persons.

The law requires that the highest members of government declare their assets to the Court of Appeals, but the declarations do not have to be made public. President Taur Matan Ruak declared his assets publicly in August and encouraged all members of government to follow his example.

The law stipulates that all legislation, Supreme Court decisions (when the court is established), and decisions made by government bodies must be published in the official gazette. If not published, they are null and void. Regulations also provide for public access to court proceedings and decisions and the national budget and accounts. In practice there were concerns that public access to information was constrained. For example, the official gazette was published only in Portuguese, although the law requires publication in Tetum as well.

Women - Rape and Domestic Violence: Gender-based violence remained a serious concern. Although rape is a crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, failures to investigate or prosecute cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse were common, as were long delays. Authorities reported that the backlog of court cases led some communities to address rape accusations through traditional law, which does not always provide justice to victims. The definition of rape under the penal code appears broad enough to make spousal rape a crime, although that definition had not been tested in the courts.

In 2010 the Law against Domestic Violence was enacted to provide protection and defense to vulnerable groups, including women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, against all forms of violence, exploitation, discrimination, abandonment, oppression, sexual abuse, and mistreatment. During the year the PNTL received 153 reports of domestic abuse and referred them to the prosecutor general for investigation and prosecution.

Domestic violence against women was a significant problem, often exacerbated by the reluctance of authorities to respond aggressively. The PNTL’s Vulnerable Persons Units (VPUs) generally handled cases of domestic violence and sexual crimes. Women’s organizations assessed VPU performance as variable: some officials actively pursued cases, while others preferred to handle them through mediation or as private family matters. VPU operations were severely constrained by lack of support and resources. Police at times came under pressure from community members to ignore cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse. The PNTL disciplinary code allows the PNTL to impose disciplinary sanctions on police who commit domestic violence in their own homes. The government and civil society actively promoted awareness campaigns to combat violence against women, including rape.

Discrimination: Some customary practices discriminate against women. For example, in some regions or villages where traditional practices hold sway, women may not inherit or own property. Traditional cultural practices such as payment of a bride price also occurred. Women were disadvantaged also in pursuing job opportunities at the village level.

The constitution guarantees equal rights to own property, but in practice traditional inheritance systems tended to exclude women from land ownership. Parliament debated and passed a national land law, which included more specific rights for women’s ownership of land, but the legislation was vetoed by the former president for unrelated reasons.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity - The law makes no reference to consensual same-sex sexual relations. Gay men and lesbians were not highly visible in the country, although there were some openly gay public personalities. There were no formal reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, due in part to limited awareness of the issue and a lack of formal legal protections.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination - Societal violence or discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS was not a problem. There was no pattern of violence against other groups not covered above.

Permalink: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204244

Land Disputes: From the Security Perspective

Fundasaun Mahein, April, 17, 2013 PRESS RELEASE - Mahein’s Voice Report Number 48 will survey the instances of land dispute in Timor-Leste, and at the same time, will follow up the previous report “Land Disputes and National Instability in Timor-Leste,” published on 10 April 2010. FM has observed that the number of land disputes continued to increase following that report, and resulted in lost lives for some community members of Timor-Leste.

Land disputes have been occurring since the UNTAET period, and FM analyses that land disputes are a continuing type of violence in East Timor. The widespread nature of land disputes in Timor-Leste stems largely from its history of displacement, military occupation, and internal conflict. Furthermore, after 10 years of independence, Timor-Leste has fallen short in its efforts to create a legal framework for land administration. As a result, people continue to take opportunities to claim land ownership in situations and dispute claims in ways that lead to conflict.

After the horrific crisis of 2006, there was a thorough evaluation which identified that empowering land security was very important to prevent conflict in society. In this respect, the government requested that donors to establish a system that can promote the protection of land rights. As a response to the request, in 2007 the American Government – through USAID – established a program called “Ita Nia Rai”. The program greatly helps the National Direction of Land and Property (under the Ministry of Justice) develop the land administration system and conduct a national program to collect much-needed land data from 2009 to 2012. The program also supports the development of land law in Timor-Leste.

The Land and Property National Program was completed systematically from one location to another, collecting data and hearing declarations of land ownership. The declarations were announced publicly in order to help the community access and verify the results. The data is important to the government t to establish the land administration system and to allow people to claim land ownership certificates in the future. The National Program took place in all 13 districts. As listed, the Program of 12 districts only covered the capital sub-district, while in Dili district the Program covered all sub-districts. A total 18 sub-districts (out of all 13 districts) from which land data was collected indicated 51.701 (88.46%) clearly owned land, while 5.968 (11.54%) of land remained in land dispute zones. FM noted that just these first 18 sub districts indicated a high rate of land dispute. Furthermore, FM believes that the overall land dispute rate will continue to increase in East Timor if the national program “Ita Nia Rai” continues to conduct these land surveys throughout the entire territory of Timor-Leste.

Land disputes in Timor-Leste have led to physical conflict, which have in turn resulted in the lives lost for some community members – including women and innocent children. Such an incident is precisely what happened in Sama Lete and Aidabaleten. In addition, the Timorese land dispute no longer just involves person-to-person disputes, but has grown to organized group disputes like with the CPD-RDTL in Welaluhu-same. Although this CPD-RDTL occupation has since been resolved, it still remains a noteworthy example of land dispute in Timor-Leste.

The land disputes of the Catholic Church marks perhaps the saddest such episodes. In October 2011 there was a land dispute between the government, through the State Secretariat for Culture, and the Church regarding a claim to the mini park in Motael known as Jardim Borja da Costa. This issue has been covered by the media, the community has yet to find a solution. FM observed that the diocese claimed publicly, by announcing on a community board, that “This land is the property of the diocese”. Furthermore, in early April 2013, there was a land conflict between the Balide parish and Diocese of Dili. The conflict resulted in a parishioner destroying the buildings of the University of John Paul II.

Fundasaun Mahein thinks that East Timor needs solid land laws that reflect the political, economic, and cultural nuances of life in Timor-Leste and effectively protect land rights. This would be an important step to contribute to stability and economic development in Timor-Leste. FM points out that land rights are fundamental rights for everyone’s life and personal identity, and so there should be a law that can reflect the identities of all Timorese.

In 2012, the National Parliament created the land law that was considered by the President of the Republic of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta. But the proposed land law was not discussed at that time and the land law had yet to be ratified in 2013. Somehow, currently the Ministry of Justice has begun another consultation process of land law, and will bring it to the National Parliament assembly for approval this year. FM congratulates the State, through the Government and the National Parliament, for their efforts to create land ownership laws in Timor-Leste.

1. Recommendation to the National Parliament and the Government of Timor-Leste to meet for a profound consultation and deep discussion about the proposed land law in order to guarantee the interests of all Timorese.

2. Recommendation to the Government and National Parliament to convoke a public consultation on the Real Estate Financing Fund law and the proposed laws of N0/2010 de Lei das Expropriacoes (Expropriation Law). So far, the public has no idea about the Real Estate Financing Fund Law. FM insists to Government and the National Parliament to convoke a public consultation and begin addressing this lack of communication.

3. Recommendation to the Government of East Timor to establish mechanisms for conflict prevention and conflict resolution through local authorities and the PNTL.

4. Recommendation to the Secretary of State for Land and Property to facilitate the progress of the national program “Ita Nia Rai,” so that in may complete coverage for all communities in Timor-Leste.
See also

Land disputes a continuing cause of violence in Timor-Leste

Land conflicts the most common dispute in Timor-Leste but draft land law is incoherent

Custom and conflict:The uses and limitations of traditional systems in addressing rural land disputes in East Timor

Land dispute triggers more violence in Timor-Leste

Murder in East Timor the result of land dispute

PM Gusmao recognises land disputes as a serious problem

Four suspects in Atabae murders case in custody

See also Timor-Leste Land Studies

24 April 2013

Timor-Leste Legal News 23 April 2013

ETLJB 24 April 2013 - There follows a selection of legal news reports published by the Timor Leste Media Development Centre.

One house set on fire during a clash in Beto - Televizaun Timor-Leste 23/04/2013 - One house was set on fire and six other houses were destroyed at about three o'clock on Monday morning in the sub-village of Beto in the Dili suburb of Comoro. Two young gang members were believed to have committed the attacks who have been arrested by the police.

The victim whose house was burned down called on the two groups of which the suspects are members to end violence in the area and called for the police to arrest all those involved.

The village chief said the police should arrest these people as they had made people there to lose their sense of calm.
Minister Babo informs land issues to President TMR Timor-Post 23/04/2013 - The Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo Soares has informed the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) about land and property issues in the country including the Ministry's efforts to produce the law to resolve land and properties disputes in the country.

“I explained the Land and Property Law to the president of the republic and we have contacted civil society organisations and international organisations to accumulate their opinions before presenting it to the Council of Ministers,” Babo said.

President TMR was happy with the work of ministry of justice as it has made efforts to produce a new land law to move forward with the land and property issues in the country, as it would impact the development process if the issue is unresolved.
Combating crimes, PNTL should not be involved in politics Suara Timor Lorosae  23/04/2013 - Combating crime in all countries, including Timor-Leste is important, therefore, the police should not be involved in politics although they can cooperate with other institutions.

“There is no country which can combat the organised crime alone, therefore, the Timorese National Police (PNTL) should cooperate with other police to do their mission and vision, but it should be out of political issues,” PNTL Commander Longuinhos Monteiro told STL at PNTL Headquarter in Caicoli of Dili on Monday 22.

Monteiro explained that PNTL should be trained well to have a wide vision regionally and internationally, such as PNTL’s current cooperation with POLRI (Police of the Republic of Indonesia), AFP (Australian Federal Police), FBI (American Police Institution), and GNR (Republican National Guard – Portugal) which aimed at providing capacity building for PNTL members. Source: TLMDC 23/04/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Lost Weapons and Other Weapons Issues in Timor-Leste

ETLJB - Fundasaun Mahein, 23 April 2013 Press Release - Mahein’s Voice Report No. 49 analyzes lost weapons and other weapons issues in Timor-Leste. Historically, weapons usage has caused panic among the populace and can \be considered an issue of public security. This report attempts to expand the space for debate and public participation in matters relating to the existence of lost weapons in East Timor. Weapons began to be lost during the 2006 crisis, and continued to go missing through 2012. Separately, the Government, through the PNTL General Commander, bought controversial weapons from the PINDAD company of Indonesia.

Some members of the national media have reported that some of the missing weapons from the 2006 crises have been found, but as of now the government and the national parliament have released no official information on the matter. FM observed that in 2011 the ministry of defense and security established investigative processes for the missing F-FDTL and PNTL weapons from the 2006 crisis. The Ministry of Defense and Security has yet to release the results of that commission, even though the mandate of that investigative commission is over. Yet FM has observed some documents cite recommendations from that investigative commission.

The lost weapons from 2006 remain unsolved, but the history of missing police weapons deepened again in mid-2012. Even though a PNTL officer was ultimately dismissed from the PNTL for the incident, the current location of the lost weapon from 2012 remains unclear. At the time of the incident, the Secretary of State for Security and the PNTL General Commander directed responsibility for recovering the lost weapon at each another – to no result. FM considers the unsolved status of the lost weapons a result of the bad weapons management system in East Timor, and FM believes that it is very risky for the government of East Timor to continue importing such weapons.

In 2012, the government imported weapons for the PNTL through the PINDAD company of Indonesia. These imported weapons have since become a major public issue in society. FM, at the time of the incident, decried the lack of transparency in weapons transactions in Timor-Leste. FM noted in the report that the PNTL General Commander, Longuinhos, direct that the weapons in the port were not to undergo a check by airport customs, but rather were to be brought directly to the PNTL. To these actions, the Secretary of State for Security replied that this was not his responsibility but was the responsibility of the PNFL General Commander Longuinhos.

On 3 September 2012 the PNTL General Commander publicly announced the weapons transaction between the Commandant General of PNTL and the PINDAD Company of Indonesia. The imported weapons totaled 75 weapons with the serial number 0001 up to 00075, and the PNTL were to have been the first users in the world of these brand new weapons. One of the many issues with this weapons purchase is that the weapons of type PM2-V1 is considered the weapon of the Indonesia Forest Guard. The PNTL General Commander Longuinhos rejected this assertion and announced that the weapons of type PM2-VI was designed by him. But FM has collected data that the FM2-VI weapons is used by the Indonesia Forest Guard. It is declared as such by the PINDAD Company: http://www.pindad.com/showpro1.php?p=2&u=1>.

Other issues with PNTL continued to arise later in 2012 with the case of the five weapons of poor quality. On 30 November 2012, the national media reported that the Weapons Tester – supported by the Secretary of State for Security, Committee B of the National Parliament, the PNTL and the F-FDTL as led by the General Director of the Secretary of State for Security – was headed to Jakarta. FM considers the Weapons Tester not a person of good quality.

Committee B of the National Parliament has not yet accept these results, and the Council has not yet approved the weapons that were imported but the PNTL General Commander into Timor-Leste and that he already declared publicly as weapons present in Timor-Leste. Therefore, the Secretary of State for Security and Committee B of the National Parliament should consider these weapons as illegal because they have not yet received the proper authorization and approval.


1. Recommendation to the Ministry of Defense and Security to improve the quality of weapons management and control mechanisms to prevent future irregularity.

2. Recommendation to the National Parliament to continue insisting that the government establish an investigative commission for the illegal weapons imported in 2012 and still present in 2013.

3. Recommendation to the Ministry of Defense and Security to publish the recommendations of the investigative commission regarding the lost weapons of PNTL and F-FDTL from 2006.

4. Recommendation to the PNTL General Commander to find the lost weapons from 2012 that remain lost.

5. Recommendation to the government to establish a Public Company that handles the importation of weapons into Timor-Leste.

6. Recommendation to the PNTL General Commander to establish a firm law for PNTL officers to only use their weapons while on the job, and not allow PNTL officers to carry weapons while the officer not on duty. Source: Fundasaun Mahein Press Release 23/04/2013 http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2013/04/23/paradeiru-kilat-ne%E2%80%99ebe-lakon-la-klaru-no-polemika-kilat-iha-timor-leste/

Related stories (these links added by ETLJB)
Missing police weapon turns up in Prime Minister's possession
PNTL Loses Weapons: Commander Longuinos Monteiro In Charge
Management and Mismanagement of Police Weapons
Military chief calls for immediate dismissal of Police Commissioner
PNTL buys PINDAD weapons and PNTL Intelligence Commander loses his semiautomatic assault rifle
No transparency in government purchase of weapons from Indonesia
Timor-Leste: Civil Society and Media Keeping Track of Guns

23 April 2013

Government and Community celebrate agreement on land use for Suai Supply Base

ETLJB 23 April 2013 - On the 11th of April the Prime Minister, His Excellency Kay Rala Gusmao and Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, His Excellency Alfredo Pires, joined with community leaders and members in Kamanasa Suco, Covalima District in a ceremony marking their agreement on the use of land for the building of the Suai Supply Base. The agreement comes after a long process of consultation with the local community over several years and bears testament to the commitment of the Government to balance their pro-business and investment policy with a genuine care for the welfare of the local people and their environment. In their agreement the local people released 1,113 hectares of land for the development.

The Suai Supply Base and Industrial Park will now proceed to be built on this site beginning with the first of three phases of construction. Over the first phase, a time frame of some 18-24 months, construction will be centered on preparing a support base for the oil and gas industry. This will include the construction of a breakwater, jetty, offices blocks, warehouse, liquid storage tank, open yard and mini shore base. Further phases will see the expansion of the port facilities opening up the south coast to a number of economic opportunities.

Besides the benefits to come in the form of jobs for local people during both the construction and operational phases, landowners are to be recompensed through a 10% share of profit from the project. This is a far more significant share than has been offered to traditional landowners in other countries including Australia.

The Suai Supply Base will be a key logistics support base for both onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities and forms a part of the Tasi Mane project set to develop the southern area of Timor-Leste. This project is planned to leverage the oil and gas resources of Timor-Leste to bring maximize benefits to the people of Timor-Leste.

Spokesperson for the Fifth Constitutional Government, Minister Agio Pereira noted “the Government appreciates the release of the land in the Kamanasa Suco for the building of the Suai Supply Base. The process has shown that the needs of various stakeholders can be balanced through a consultative process. This important step is a step into the future of south coast development and towards the benefits that will flow to the local communities and more broadly to the people of Timor-Leste. ENDS Source: Government of East Timor Press Release 22 April 2013

22 April 2013

Distortions and misrepresentations by The Asia Foundation in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 22 April 2014 - In its Terms of Reference for its 2013 Law and Justice Survey, The Asia Foundation makes some extraordinary statements about what it has put out as the object of the survey.

The survey is basically conducted by teams of investigators who go out into various communities and get members of the public to complete or answer a set of questions about their perceptions of law and justice in the country. It thereby "elicits public views towards law and justice" that are supposed to "inform a broader Foundation initiative that aims to support public policy development, good governance and the rule of law within the country."

The TOR then makes the outrageous claim that this upcoming survey, along with the previous ones, "will provide for a strong evidence base and longitudinal comparisons of the establishment and evolution of the rule of law in Timor-Leste." This statement is, of course, a sheer nonsense and should not go unchallenged because there is no causative correlation between what people perceive of law and justice and the rule of law and what empirically, is, in fact, the reality of the condition of the rule of law. It is a complete misrepresentation and a despicable distortion to make such a claim and observers - as well as the Government of East Timor and civil society - should be extremely wary of the claims that The Asia Foundation has made in this regard.

The opinions of a sample of members of the community are not evidence of anything other than their perceptions of the rule of law; provided that notion itself can be properly articulated to participants. The opinions of individuals who are not accredited experts in matters of evidence in legal issue are not admissible for any purpose whatsoever. Similarly, nor should the results of this or any of the other surveys by The Asia Foundation be admissible as evidence of the central question of whether and to what extent the rule of law has been established and has evolved in East Timor. Nor would the results of such a survey be a rational basis to inform any initiative to support "public policy development, good governance and the rule of law within the country."

The TOR also states that "the research findings will capture the state of law and justice in Timor-Leste" - another utter nonsense!

These claims by The Asia Foundation about its law and justice surveys reflect a profound arrogance or ignorance - or both - of what empirical evidence gathering and analysis of the rule of law should be based on; what the real indicators of the condition of the rule of law is and how they are ascertained.

In discussing the rule of law indicators, the United Nations Rule of Law Indicators* states that the rule of law "refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency."

How, one might ask, does a survey of a sample number of citizens, provide any evidence of any of those indicators? These theoretically complex, philosophical and socio-political ideas are not measurable by the opinions of members of the general community but require a scholarly and intellectually-sound investigation of the operations of state institutions - of the Parliament, the Courts and the Executive in all their various manifestations; an examination and assessment of the behavior of those institutions, of the decisions of the courts, of the relations between the arms of the state, of how laws are enacted and implemented. Empirical case studies of all of these indicators are the only way to measure the "establishment and evolution of the rule of law" in a democratic society

It is preposterous of The Asia Foundation to make the assertions that is has in the Terms of Reference for this survey. 

* The United Nations Rule of Law Indicators - Implementation Guide and Project Tools at http://www.un.org/en/events/peacekeepersday/2011/publications/un_rule_of_law_indicators.pdf Accessed 22/04/2013.

Author: Warren L. Wright

The Asia Foundation's 2013 Law and Justice Survey

ETLJB 22 April 2014 - The Asia Foundation is seeking a consulting firm that has the capacity to conduct a national opinion survey across Timor-Leste that will elicit public views towards law and justice, and inform a broader Foundation initiative that aims to support public policy development, good governance and the rule of law within the country. The study is to be conducted in May 2013, and targets a random sample of 1120 respondents from across all 13 districts of Timor-Leste.

Since the declaration of independence and promulgation of the Constitution in 2002, The Asia Foundation has captured the achievements and the challenges facing the country’s formal and local justice sector, initially through the landmark 2004 survey, Law and Justice in Timor-Leste: a Survey of Citizen Awareness and Attitudes Regarding Law and Justice, and through the subsequent 2008 survey of the same name.  Together with the proposed 2013 Law and Justice Survey, the three surveys will provide for a strong evidence base and longitudinal comparisons of the establishment and evolution of the rule of law in Timor-Leste.

Using a list of 51 indicators that target a total of 1120 respondents from members of the general public in all 13 districts of Timor-Leste, the research findings will capture the state of law and justice in Timor-Leste, and help inform decision-making as it pertains to public policy, social science research and the activities of donor organisations.


The consulting firm will be required to collect and analyse data using specific indicators that target Timor’s national population. Each questionnaire is estimated to take approximately 10 minutes and will be conducted using a Samsung Galaxy Note tablet, which will be provided for by The Asia Foundation, allow for rapid collection and collation of information provided by the respondent. The successful consulting firm will be required to:

1. Recruit numerators to conduct the survey targeting 1120 respondents;

2. In conjunction with the Foundation, train numerators in survey and interview technique, as well as in the use of tablet-based questionnaires;

3 Provide transport to all 13 districts, conduct and supervise field work, using questions provided by the Foundation;

4. Clean data, conduct cross-tabulation, upload data file in SPSS format and generate graphs.

Timeline and Deliverables

The successful research firm will be asked to complete the data collection within 5 weeks of a contract being signed. Ideally, The Asia Foundation would like the data set to be made available by the end of May, 2013. In terms of deliverables, the research firm, within this period, will be required to:

1 Arrange logistics, conduct interviewer training and deliver results from a pilot test

2. Develop Quality Control methods and ensure the delivery of 1120 completed survey forms to the Foundation’s online database

3. Submit a clean, labelled and cross tabulated data file in SPSS (in English).

4. Deliver a final report detailing the survey process, including full frequency and cross tabulation analysis of collected data.


Applications by interested consulting firms should include a:

1. Summary of the applicant’s relevant experience;

2 Work plan detailing the training, implementation and final submission of public perception data; and

3. Budget inclusive of field implementation, data collection, processing and analysis.

Deadline for submissions: 24 April, 2013

Please submit your application either in email to grajalingam@asiafound.org or in hard copy to the Foundation’s office in Bairro dos Grillos, Dili.


The implementing agency will be required to liaise closely with relevant Foundation staff.  Final approvals and oversight will be handled by Ms. Susan Marx, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation, Timor-Leste.

Key contact information: Gobie Rajalingam, grajalingam@asiafound.org 

Source: The Asia Foundation

20 April 2013

Timor-Leste Police Force 13th Anniversary

East Timor Police Coat of Arms
ETLJB 20 April 2013 - On 27 March, 2013 the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) commemorated its 13th anniversary at the PNTL Headquarters in Caicoli, Dili, under the topic “PNTL as Part of the Community, With the Community and for the Community”.

During the ceremony, the PNTL General-Commander, Longuinhos Monteiro, stressed the fact that PNTL is no longer comparable to what it used to be 13 years ago. As a matter of fact, it holds an autonomous position in the definition and orientation of operational activities without being monitored by the United Nations Police (UNPOL).

“Over a period of four years the Timor-Leste National Police has made tremendous efforts to keep its position in accordance with criteria defined by UNMIT, as per the Supplementary Agreement.  We managed to play such a role under the guiding principle defined by our Government in order to determine our own position vis-à-vis the political option of the United Nations”, Longuinhos Monteiro stated.

The PNTL General-Commander also stated that “the National Police has a broad mission in the context of internal security and the Republic, in accordance with the powers conferred to it by the law. To that end, the National Police must be prepared and capable of taking on its responsibility. It must also acquire competences both in its routine activities, through day-to-day interaction with the community, and in extraordinary interventions, in the context of public order, and in other matters relating to the commitment of organised crime. And this is of extreme importance in the context of a State such as Timor-Leste where the population is developing itself in several sectors”.

“I draw your attention to the degree of commitment we had reached previously and to the need for you to keep your new stance as servers of the State, through your behaviour, moral responsibility and professionalism vis-à-vis your individual, collective, and institutional commitment in a future mission. I also request all commanders who, either in your posts or in your squadrons and district commands, along the 13 years during which we were together, have accomplished our duty and obligation with maturity and discipline, conducting a service of responsibility as servers of the State.  Please show once again that it is possible to materialise a dream that ourselves and the people wish to become reality, through your dedication. Long live PNTL! We should all be happy!” Longuinhos Monteiro further stressed.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and Security, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, reminded that “it is still too early for us to consider that all required or necessary conditions for PNTL have already been met. Regain the hierarchy of the command, discipline, ethics and the relationship with the communities, for we originate from the communities! Go hand-in-hand with the community; cooperate with the population on a day-to-day basis, because you are there to serve the community! Always ensure that your institution provides a good service, place the interests of the institution above your own individual interests, for the benefit of firmness and the provision of a good service! You are to be congratulated for your confidence and decision to improve every day!”

The President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, also requested “the officers, sergeanrts and all PNTL police agents to keep practicing good actions for the benefit of our Nation and People, as has been the case over the past 13 years. Try to be better for prestige and credibility shall not come to you free-of-charge; they derive from your efforts, dedication and discipline that you are capable of showing to the public”. Source: Government of East Timor 2/04/2013 Reposted by Warren L. Wright

Dissemination of Project to Implement Decentralisation and Local Government started by Prime Minister in Oe-Cusse

ETLJB 20 April 2013 - On 7 March, 2013 Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão started a trip throughout the country with the objective of informing the population of the Project to Implement the Policy of Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government. The first district to be visited was Oe-Cusse Ambeno, where the Prime Minister and his delegation remained for three days, i.e., from 7 to 9 April, 2013.

Dissemination of the afore-mentioned Project was led by the Prime Minister himself, who was accompanied by the Secretary of State for Administrative Decentralisation, Tomás Cabral, the Secretary of State for Local Development, Samuel Mendonça, the Secretary of State for Institutional Strengthening, Francisco Soares “Borlaku”, the Secretary of State for Support and Promotion of Private Sector, Veneranda Lemos, the PNTL General-Commander, Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro, the Minister of Tourism, Francisco Kalbuadi Lay, and the Secretary of State for Arts and Culture, Maria Isabel Ximenes. The meetings counted on the maximum participation of the different sector of Oe-Cusse Ambeno district.

In his sppech, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão recalled that, from 2002 to 2007, the Government committed itself to building the State. From 2007 to 2012, the Government focused on the reform of several State institutions and on the settlement of social problems that emerged as time passed by. Finally, this year – 2013 – the Government is giving priority to the functioning of the State institutions and the preparations for the implementation of the Policy of Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government so at to establish municipalities in the 13 districts, thereby enforcing Law no. 11/2009 of 7 October.

“The Policy of Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government significantly supports the private sector existing in the rural areas. In addition to this, it promotes the institutions in a strong, legitimate and stable State, by creating opportunities for the democratic participation of the citizens, building an effective, efficient and equitable provision of public services in order to support the socio-economic development of the country”, the Prime Minister stated.

In response to the concern expressed by the local community in Oe-Cusse Ambeno district on the concept of municipality of this project, taking the scarcity of human resources, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão explained that the “concept of municipality does not mean the enlargement of district administration. The process of municipalisation will provide the local government of certain competences assigned by the central Government, notably the following: economic development, territorial planning, environment, social action and housing, education and vocational training, culture and property, youth, sports and free times, health, tourism, civil protection, among others. If we undertake a comparison, municipalisation is equated to the kota madya system in Indonesia, with its DPRD (Local Government with Local Assembly) and to the City Hall in Portugal.”

The Head of Government also added that “in order to implement Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government, all existing sectors in Oe-Cusse Ambeno district, including ministerial lines, intelectuals, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the veterans and the population in general have to be ready to face the implementation of this Policy. The sons of Oe-Cusse Ambeno should put aside their interests of groups and focus only on the objective of developing Oe-Cusse Ambeno. From now on, they should start identifying the potentials as well as the challenges that need to be discussed and planned, so that they are debated during the technical and structural meeting to take place during the next visit, and so that we can reach a conclusion and make a decision on the implementation of the process of municipalisation at the Oe-Cusse Ambeno district”.

Oe-Cusse Ambeno district is 815 square kilometres, 18 sucos, and a population of approximately 67,700 people. Its main economic activities are subsistence agriculture within family business, livestock, maize, rice, manioc and sweet potato, with a potential of economic development in the areas of tourism and specialised food crops. Source: Government of East Timor 11/04/2013 Reposted by Warren L. Wright

Related Posts
Project for the Implementation of Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government in Bobonaro district

Project for the Implementation of Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government in Bobonaro district

ETLJB - On 10 and 11 April, Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão visited Bobonaro district for the second time to disseminate the Project for the Implementation of Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government.

Bobonaro District Administrator Domingos Martins gladly welcomed the visit of the Prime Minister, whose objective was to inform the local population on the administrative decentralisation and local government policy, as well as on the plan to establish municipalities throughout the entire Timorese territory.

“We have been waiting for, and are ready to receive, the establishment of municipalities. As a matter of fact, this subject was already spoken about in 2006, at a time when the Government intended to approve the Decentralisation and Local Government policy. At that time, Bobonaro district was one of the pilot-districts in the process of consultation on so important matters such as territorial unity, property and real estate issues, the name for the new municipality, and the administrative headquarters. We trust that new municipalities will be created in Timor-Leste, even against several challenges”, Domingos Martins advocated.

The Secretary of State for Administrative Decentralisation, Tomás Cabral, reiterated the fact that Decentralisation Policy has started in 2003 with the I Constitutional Government, with Bobonaro district being the pilot-project. But he also said that the consultation to take place will not confine itself to the district capital. Instead, it will be extended to the sub-districts, for these are emerging potentialities for development together with the administrative dimension.

Xanana Gusmão spoke of the “priority of the Government as regards the functioning of the State institutions and of the preparations for the implementation of the Administrative Decentralisation and Local Government Policy, which provides for the establishment of municipalities in the 13 districts in accordance with Law no. 11/2009 of 7 October. This policy paves the way for the development of the private sector in the rural areas by promoting the consolidation of State institutions”.

“I would like to call upon you to think of the level of life of the population of Bobonaro, whether the population in Bobonaro is ready or not ready for the establishment of municipalities, because for one to establish municipalities one requires infrastructures, education and health, which are equally important for the development of Bobonaro district”, the Prime Minister said.

Bobonaro district has 1,368 square kilometers, with 50 sucos and approximately 93,800 inhabitants. The main economic activities are subsistence agriculture within family businesses, livestock, rice and coffee with a potential of economic development in the areas of tourism and specialised food crops, trade with West Timor, rice and corn. Source: Government of East Timor 12/04/2013 Reposted by Warren L. Wright

Related Posts
Dissemination of Project to Implement Decentralisation and Local Government started by Prime Minister in Oe-Cusse


Regulation of the Media in Timor-Leste – Towards a Culture of Responsability

ETLJB 20 April 2013 - The Government of Timor-Leste, more precisely the Secretariat of State for the Media (SoSM), in a joint-organization with the European Union Media Program, has started an international seminar which will gather national as well as international speakers in Díli, the speeches of whom will focus on the following topic: “Regulation of the Media – Towards a Culture of Responsability”.

On this first day, 20 of March, the opening session counted on the speeches of the Secretary of State for the Media, Nélio Isaac Sarmento, of the Vice Prime Minister, Fernando La Sama de Araújo, and of the Political Adviser of the Portuguese Embassy representing his Ambassador, Pedro Severo de Almeida.

In his speech, Nélio Isaac Sarmento showed that SoSM represents the will of the Government in regulating the profession of the journalists and the Media, reminding that the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste provides for the right to information, which implies freedom of expression and of information.

According to the Secretary of State, “the Law of the Media not only protects and defends the journalists, but it also demands added professionalism, quality and accountability in accordance with an ethics that reflects a national identity and culture and promotes transparency and accountability”.

The Secretary of State also stated that “the Government continues to encourage the Media to conduct its work in such a manner as to always remain independent from the political and the economic powers”.

The second speaker in the seminar was Fernando La Sama de Araújo who started by stating that “democracy is a regulated freedom which implies compliance with the laws”. He stressed the efforts being made by the Government in professionalizing the various professional careers so that media operators can work with professionalism. For the Vice Prime Minister, “the power of the media should be used by the journalists in a wise and fair manner”.

Pedro Severo de Almeida considers that “the Timorese media is undoubtedly an irreplaceable pillar in the construction in the free, democratic and peaceful country that Timor-Leste managed to transform itself after almost 11 years after the restoration of its independence”. At the same time, he recalled that “In the 2013 edition of the Press Freedom Index of the Reporters Without Borders, Timor-Leste had the best result in the South East Asian Region and one of the bests in Asia”. In addition to underlining the importance of strictness and truth to be observed by media professionals, Pedro Severo de Almeida also stressed the will of Portugal in continuing to support the training and capacity building of Timorese journalists.

After the opening ceremony, the first session came to us through the President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, on the topic “Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, and the Right to Information in the context of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste”.

In an eloquent speech, Vicente Guterres refers to the Constitution of the Republic in which article 40 has to do with freedom of speech and information and article 41 deals with freedom of press and of the media, and reminds that “these freedoms cannot be exercised without respect for the other rights or interests also provided for in the Constitution”.

The President of the National Parliament further states that “in order to accomplish its role, the press needs to be free from political, economic, financial, military and religious interferences”.

Banbang Harimurty, Vice-President of the Indonesian Press Council, spoke on the “Defence of Freedom of Press and Regulation of the Media”, thereby concluding the first session.

Carmelita Caetano Moniz, President of the Commission of Constitutional Affairs of the National Parliament spoke on “A Law for the Media”, after which several interventions by diverse media bodies took place.

The first day of this international seminar on “Regulation of the Media – Towards a Culture of Responsability” was characterized by a major affluence and participation in the debates by all in attendance, which included students and a considerable number of media professionals, both national and international.

Source: Government of East Timor 20/03/2013 Re-Posted by Warren L. Wright

19 April 2013

Timor-Leste Lawyers Disciplinary Management Council inaugurated

Dionisio Soares
ETLJB 19 April 2013 - On Monday 11 February 2013 the Ministry of Justice inaugurated the Lawyers Disciplinary Management Council at the Legal Training Centre in Caicoli, Dili.

Seven active members were inaugurated: Nelinho Vital, as President; Antonio Goncalves; Fernando Lopes, Manuel Tilman; Pedro Aparício de Oliveira; and two other alternate members: Francisco de Araujo Almeida and Helena Pereira.

In accordance with the Minister of Justice, Dionísio Babo, ‘Timor-Leste has marked yet another milestone in the justice sector, for no Lawyers Council had been established so far. Thus, it is the intention of the Government to establish a Lawyers Disciplinary Management Council so that lawyers may legally provide legal assistance to our people who want peace so vehemently’.

Minister Dionísio Babo also stressed that ‘this Council was established with the financial support of the Government, through the Ministry of Justice, and that, in the future, there will be a Public Defense Office also financed by the State’.

Nelinho Vital, elected President of the Council, underlined that the ‘objective of the Lawyers Disciplinary Management Council is to defend the right of lawyers and to simultaneously take on the duty and responsibility in the face of the promotion of the lawyers disciplinary management. Since this is an independent profession, lawyers professional ethics needs to elevate the level of the services provided to the community, in accordance with law and public order.

After the inauguration, one of the activities of the Council will be to organize the functioning of the lawyers service through the registration and issuance of the lawyers professional cards. Source: Government of East Timor 12 February 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Timor-Leste Public Prosecutor seeks 17 year sentence for the crime of attempted aggravated murder characterised as domestic violence

ETLJB 19 April 2013 - The east Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on proceedings in the Oecusse District Court concerning a murder of a woman by her husband. The text of the translation follows. 

On 10 April 2013 the Oecusse District Court conducted a hearing in a case involving the defendant MM who allegedly committed the crime against the victim RT (his wife). This case allegedly occurred on 5 September 2011 in Nitibe Sub-District, Oecusse District.

“The aforementioned act was very serious, therefore JSMP requests for the court to apply a heavy penalty against the defendant in accordance with the charges of the public prosecutor to reflect the gravity of the crime committed by the defendant against the victim who was his wife,” said the Director of JSMP Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP monitoring had revealed that domestic violence is a crime that is quite prevalent in Oecusse District.

JSMP urges the State of Timor-Leste to ensure that all citizens are free from violence. If the State fails to provide this guarantee then the State is violating its obligation as prescribed in the Constitution to provide protection against all forms of violence against women.

The Public Prosecutor alleged that on 5 September 2012 the defendant intended to slash the throat of the victim, however the victim defended herself with her right hand and as a consequence her right hand was severed. The defendant then slashed the victim once more on her head, however the victim defended herself with her left hand and as a consequence both of her hands were completely severed.

In addition, the defendant then slashed the mouth of the victim, knocking out 7 of her teeth. The defendant then slashed the right eye of the victim and caused the victim to suffer permanent damage to her eye.

The incident occurred because the defendant suspected the victim of having a relationship with another man.

In relation to the aforementioned facts, the Public Prosecutor charged the defendant with Article 23 of Penal Code regarding an attempt to commit a crime in conjunction with Article 139 (g) of the Penal Code regarding the crime of aggravated murder.

In the hearing the defendant admitted that he had slashed the victim because the victim always suspected or accused him of following/spying on her when she went to the well, however the defendant stated that the defendant did not spy on or suspect the victim. During the trial, the defendant also stated that he actually wanted to kill the victim.

Pursuant to these facts, the Public Prosecutor in his final recommendations requested for the court to sentence the defendant to 17 years imprisonment. However the Public Prosecutor also requested for the court to hand down a heavier penalty than the recommended sentence because there was no reason for the criminal offence committed by the defendant. In addition, the defendant himself told the court that he had intended to kill the victim, not to injure her.

The Public Defender requested for the court to hand down a proportional sentence against the defendant. The Public Defender asked the court not just to look at the suffering of the victim, but to remember that the defendant is also a human being and he suffered after the incident occurred.

The Public Defender also argued that after committing the crime the defendant suffered psychologically because he had left behind his children with the victim who was now disabled. Therefore, the public defender requested for the court to hand down a prison sentence of 15 years against the defendant

The reading out of the decision in this case will take place on 23 April 2013 at 9am. Source: JSMP Press Release 18/04/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Military chief supports Government's stance to ban CPD-RDTL dissidents

ETLJB 19 April 2013 - The East Timor military chief has stepped in to support the Government's stance against the dissident political group, CPD-RDTL. Jornal Nacional Diario reported yesterday that the Head of the Timor-Leste Defence Force, Major General Lere Anan Timur, has said that he totally supports Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's declaration, also in his capacity as Defence and Security Minister, to ban the group CPD-RDTL's activities.

"I think that the Prime Minister's position is good, ban them, as I have already told them you cannot create a state within this state, you (CPD-RDTL) say that you don't agree, you reject the constitution then you are in the wrong," Major General Lere Anan Timur declared to journalists last Thursday 17 April after his weekly meeting with the President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak at the Presidential Palace in Bairro Pite, Dili.

This follows a recent threat by the Prime Minister Kay Ralaa Xanana Gusmao to ban the CPD-RDTL in light of their members publicly wearing military uniforms that they had bought from Indonesia.

Lere Anana Timur added that the CPD-RDTL are really mistaken wearing these military uniforms, because there is only one legitimate military force in this country.

"Going in public uniformed as they do, they are really making a mistake, and I have said, we cannot create another state within this state, because our state already has an armed force, so what do the CPD-RDTL think they are doing?  This means they are trying to challenge the state," Lere explained.

Major General Lere said that there would be no tolerance with anyone trying to create instability, because this sacred country Timor was paid for with the blood and remains. So everyone has a duty to contribute to its development.

"I told them, do you think that the state has bought guns for the F-FDTL to just wear as decoration?  They are for killing people who go against this nation, and that is why say, we should play around with this situation.  We all fought, we all suffered, so it is better that now in time of peace we should be doing whatever we can to take this country forward, that is what is important," declared Lere.

The two star General took this opportunity to appeal to the CPD-RDTL masses to contribute to stability, because everyone sacrificed for this country.

"I want the CPD-RDTL masses to know, I know many of you also suffered for this country, for this independence, so now that we are independent, we have to submit ourselves to what this state stands for, that is what is more important, don't invent things around the place, they are doing too much with disagreeing with things.  Disagreeing was the time in the jungles perhaps, calling people reactionary because they do not agree with our principles, because now that we are independent we have to tolerate one another," Lere affirmed.  Source: Jornal Nacional Diario Thursday, 18 April 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related posts
Prime Minister Gusmao threatens to wring the necks of CPD-RDTL dissidents like chickens and sack public servants involved in the group
Police continue forced returns of CPD-RDTL members
Prime Minister Gusmao lashes out at Anti-Corruption Commission
Government finally acts against dissident CPD-RDTL's illegal occupation of land and orders police arrests and forced returns
Violations of the law by both the State and CPD-RDTL dissidents in Manufahi
Tension between military and dissident political group CPD-RDTL grows
CPD-RDTL continues to be a thorn in the side of the Timor-Leste Government
CPD-RDTL and its actions are illegal but state fails to act
CPD-RDTL using land for communal cultivation, President calls on security forces to control CPD-RDTL
CPD-RDTL using residents' land, MP calls for action against CPD-RDTL's wearing of military uniforms
CPD-RDTL accused of slaughtering the people's livestock in Fatuberliu, Defence Force Chief warns against protests against the State
CPD-RDTL members continue wearing military uniforms and carrying machetes intimidating local residents
CPD Asks PM Xanana to Keep his Promise: “CPD-RDTL Demands a Veteran Replaces Longuinhos”
Timor Police say a new coup plot from CPD-RDTL & Bua-Malus
CPD-RDTL accuses PNTL of human rights violations
RDTL Constitution does not ban dissident group
Dissident political parties accused of involvement in ninja crime in Timor-Leste
Political Killings in Timor-Leste? Fretilin alleges East Timor Democratic Party follows involved in murder of resistance organisation member's daughter

18 April 2013

Communities "surrender" land for government supply base

ETLJB 18/04/2013 A community in the District of Covalima have surrendered 100 hectares of land to the state for the construction of a government supply base, according to a report in Timor Post on 17 April 2013.

Timor Post reported that the President, Taur Matan Ruak, had appreciated the communities of Covalima District’s contribution in handing over 1000 hectares of land to the Government for supply base construction.

He is reported as stating further that he also appreciated the Government’s plans to build Kairabela Port in Baucau District to better develop transportation of the sea.

“As president I am happy and call on the Government to encourage people to participate in the countries’ development,” TMR said.

Community land in East Timor has no juridical status and with no law governing the acquisition of such land by the state for public purposes, communities have no bargaining power to have just compensation paid to them by the state for such acquisitions.

Facing the might of the state, it is little wonder that communities surrender their land to the state. The first post-independence acquisition of community land for public purposes occurred when the armed forces base at Metinaro was constructed. That acquisition was done without due process and without the international standard of the payment of just compensation (market value) of the land. It provoked local residents to confront government officials armed with machetes and both the military and the police were mobilised to intimidate the community into abandoning their objections to the acquisition.

It is undemocratic and unjust for the government to take the people's land or individual's land rights for public purposes without due process and without the payment of just compensation. Community land is in no better position in independent East Timor than it was when the Indonesian's took lands with violence or threats of violence.  Source: Timor Post 17/04/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright