30 May 2013

Conflict in Timor: Belun Situation Review March 2013

ETLJB 30 May 2013 - Conflict monitoring during March 2013 revealed a new area along the Indonesian border with growing tensions. Relations have deteriorated between the people of Atauro Island and the Indonesian town of Liran, across the water.

The collective known as CPD-RDTL, who occupied Government land in Manufahi District for a number of months, returned home but a number of issues remain to be dealt with. Incidents have been recorded as members return to their home towns, and the Government must make tactful decisions on how to appropriate the cultivated land left behind.

Police in Ermera have placed a suspected leader of ritualistic magic Group 5-1 under surveillance, as evidence collected so far is insufficient to charge him in connection with the group's activities. For further information and conflict trends, download the full report here: http://belun.tl/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/EWER-Sit-Rev-March-2013-English_SD-edits.pdf Source: Belun Edited by Warren L. Wright

Corruption trial of State Secretary for Institutional Strengthening continues in Dili District Court

ETLJB 30 May 2013 - The Dili District on Wednesday (29/5) continued the trial of the former Director for the Ministry of Planning and Finance, Francisco Borlaco, who is also the current state secretary for Institutional Empowerment.

During the trial, the National Director for Procurement, Manuel Monteiro revealed that he had no knowledge about the signing-off of the budget for a procurement tender that was allocated to the company which had won the tender as he had not adapted with the process of procurement.

Monteiro affirmed that he could not make any decision himself as he was accompanied by the Director-General Borlaco in the process of procurement.

Other witness, Agustinho Gudinho and Agustinho dos Reis, declared that the decision on the tender process was a collective decision of the procurement team and was not a personal decision.      

The Public Prosecution made an accusation against Mr. Borlaco of committing fraud in the tender process of providing trucks in which the invoice showed a different amount of the budget that was expended. The trucks were provided for the Ministry of Education to help facilitate school feeding program in the country.

The proposed budget for purchasing the trucks was US$90,000, but there was a significant difference between the allocated budet and the invoice which the Sinarias Company provided.

Borlaco signed the budget when he was still the director-general for the Ministry of Planning and Finance during the IV AMP Government. He is a member of the parliament representing the Democratic Party.

On 4 August 2009, Suara Timor Loro Sae reported that the then Junior Director General for State budget, Francisco Soares Borlaco had formally complained to Finance Minister, Emilia Pires about Deputy Prime Minister for Management and Public Administration, Mario Viegas Carrascalao whom he alleges to have violated the tender processes and accused Mr Carrascalao of politicising the procurement process.  Source: Televizaun Timor-Leste 30 May 2013 Diario Nacional 29 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related posts
Public Prosecutor files proceedings against Secretary of State Francisco Borlaco alleging abuse of power
Court seeks removal of immunity of State Secretary for Institutional Strengthening as quest against corruption continues in Timor-Leste

28 May 2013

Prime Minister Gusmao acknowledges: "a lot of money has simply been wasted away"

Xanana Gusmao. Image: The News Tribe
ETLJB 28 May 2013 - According to a report published by Jornal Independente yesterday, the Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao has promised that the mistakes of the Parliamentary Majority Alliance Government where State money was improperly used will not be repeated,.

"Maybe you have already heard people ask why this government is so big, and that is because it is needed, and I ask each member of government publicly to take these things into account properly, there has to be good coordination inside the ministries, otherwise, we are useless governors," he said.

The head of government made these statements during his decentralisation and local government discussion for the Dili District, Saturday 25 May last at the Dili Convention Centre.

Xanana acknowledged that during the previous AMP government up to the Fifth Government, a lot of money has been spent by the government improperly, money that has all just melted away.

Despite having wasted a lot of money, Xanana made his analysis of the state whereby he said that in ten or so years of state building after independence, some good things have been done but there have also been some failures also.

"But we also have to acknowledge that a lot of money has simply been wasted away, and it is because of this that from hereon in in the future, we have to identify these malpractices in administration and management, because although we have established a control system it is still not effective," underlined PM Xanana.

To fix this, according to Xanana, we have to revise the character of Timorese, revise their conduct so as to correct the wrongs that have already been committed.

"We also have to undertake a critical analysis that some money has been well spent, but some other money we should not question and we should not ask why it was spent, because it was a need in order to address imbalances in our society," Xanana said.

Because of this the head of government asked the members of government who managed public money, who implement state programs to begin to correct themselves.

As well, regarding the issue of establishment of municipalities, Xanana said that there must be reform on the issue of corruption from the central government to local level.

That he said was important because the government and the state did not want to continue to hear complaints when they descended to the grassroots, whether this state was failing.

"The big risk for us throughout the whole of Timor-Leste is that we have money, which gives us a big advantage in planning our development, and that is s big risk because we cannot all end up drinking sea water," Xanana pointed out.

During this public discussion Xanana expressed that this was the year to fix the house from within, so he asked the private sector to prepare themselves properly.

The private sector he said had to improve its management capacity, as they should not just be happy with gaining some money for projects that they have not properly implemented and then drive around in luxury cars, looking for new projects.

"This nation needs to develop all its sectors, and needs to reform everyone's mentality, and because of this the private sector has to be creative in reinvesting," Xanana stressed. Source: Jornal Independente 27 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Sex crimes against underage girls in Timor-Leste cause high school drop-outs

Timor-Leste Anti Sexual Violence poster
Anti Sexual-Violence Poster
ETLJB 228 May 2013 - 79% of young girls who suffered sexual violence in Timor-Leste are forced to abandon their school, according to the results of a survey from a local NGO, according to a report in Jornal Independente pubished on 17 May 2013.

Jornal Independente cited the Director of Rede Feto (Women's Network), Jacinta Luizinha, as stating that during their socialisation (information campaign) this year, her organization noted that, one of the impacts of violation (rape or abuse) of young girls is that 79% of the victims abandon their studies.

"In the presentation we also see in the results that we have collected thus far that 79% of girls dropout of school because they are not in a  condition to continue school. Some because they are pregnant, some because of 9the trauma and discrimination against them] resulting from rape or sexual assault that occurs while they are in the learning process," she stated.

"We all need to see how to find a solution, mechanism or means to help them, in particular our girls so that they can return to school and finish their studies."

The Director stated that she will look for a way that the victims can return to their schooling. "According to our organisations that assist the victims, such as Casa Vida and Fokupers, a majority of the victims that stay in the shelters (Uma Mahon), stop their studies due to these conditions. It shows that they want to return to school because they have the same rights as other children. They are still children (minors), with the right to access education," she emphasized.

She stated that one problem the victims face if they return to school is discrimination. "We think this is because each school looks at morality, ethics and discipline and such. But we must see that this condition is not what they wanted," she said.

She said that her organisation will continue the information campaign so that the schools can receive back girls who have dropped out of school because they were victims of sexual violence. Reporter: Julio da Silva. Source: Jornal Independent 17/05/2013. Translated from the original Tetum and published by the Timor Leste Media Development Centre. Edited by Warren L. Wright

27 May 2013

Mass executive evictions in Dili as government plans airport extension

ETLJB 27 May 2013 - The government of East Timor is planning to extend the runway of the Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili and many thousands of local residents affected by the plan are liable to be evicted. Some sources say up to 10,000 people will have their homes taken to make way for the extension of the runway in the project that will double its present length in order to accommodate large aircraft of international carriers.

Concerns about the project have already been raised by the local non-government organisation, Rede ba Rai (The Land Network).

There is no legal certainty to land titles in East Timor and evictions are effected by the police under Law No 1 of 2003 on Immovable Property (a law whose development was funded by the United States aid agency, USAID which funded foreign advisers to draft it). That executive evictions process is not subject to effective judicial review and the government refuses to  implement the applicable Indonesian law regarding the resumption of land in the public interest or meet the international standare of just compensation which is the the market value of the resumed land.

Previous mass evictions as well as sporadic evictions have been undertaken by successive governments of East Timor since the restoration of independence including the resumption of community lands for public interests such as the Metinaro military headquarters, new road constructions, plantations, and a government supply project relating to oil and gas development on the south coast of the country.

No or token compensation has been paid. There has been no due process with government officials unilaterally determining the status of land (government or private) and then mobilisng the police and, in some cases, the military, to intimidate and forcibly remove residents from their homes. This has lead inevitabley to conflict and violence and is the same pattern of undemocratic behaviour of the former occupying state, Indonesia, when it took the people's land for development projects and the transmigration of Indonesians to the then 27th province of Indonesia known as Timor Timur.

Despite government assurances that the people will not suffer financial or social hardship in the face of unjust and undemocratic evictions, the affected communities and individuals have no enforceable legal rights, no resort to the courts and no bargaining power vis-a-vis the state and its strong arm tactics and will have to take what they get - which will be far less than the market value of their lands. Such interventions by the government will only fuel long-standing and widespread social and political tensions caused by land problems in East Timor.

Author: Warren L. Wright BA LLB, Solicitor and Barrister of the New South Wales Supreme Court, Solicitor and Barrister of the High Court of Australia, Land Law Specialist, former Property Rights Adviser to UNTAET, International Land Law Adviser to the Indonesian Land Administration Project and Senior Legal Officer at the New South Wales Land Titles Office. 

See also on ETLJB
Communities "surrender" land for government supply base
Community land in East Timor - A New Tragedy of the Commons?
Government and Community celebrate agreement on land use for Suai Supply Base
Community Land in East Timor: Compensation for Acquisition for Public Purposes
Draft land law provisions on land rights for foreigners in East Timor will smother development

25 May 2013

President proposes reactivation of traditional law in Timor-Leste

Image source: W. L. Wright 2006
ETLJB 25 May 2013 - According to an English translation of a report by Diario Nacional (DN) on 24 May 2013, the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, has proposed the reactivation of traditional law in East Timor. 

DN reportes that a member of the National Parliament,
Jacinto Rocke, stated that  “I think Mr. President’s idea is good because in the past our ancestors applied traditional agreements to resolve problems that happened in their village, and now sometimes the Courts do not put on trial some problems that happened in a village but allows them be resolved through traditional agreements in that village.”  He added that personally he agreed with the idea of reactivating the traditional law. 

However, on a previous occasion some years ago, at the opening of a conference on traditional law in East Timor conducted by The Asia Foundation, which he described as "a voyage to the past" the then President (now Prime Minister), expressed his view on traditional law including the following statements:

"Whereas contemporary written laws warrant a permanent and global concept of values, traditional laws lack resolve in their expression because they are unwritten and may change according to the narrator’s interpretation, although still maintaining a dynamic of its own.

Common or traditional laws also represent the stage of evolution of a society and usually correspond to societies based on feudal relationships both in the social and religious (non-formal religions) aspects; both aspects are combined with the political and economic ones and add to another which refers to castes as the lower echelons of society, slaves and those who practice witchcraft and whom are usually denied rights."

"One factor arises from the status held by the agents of justice and the other from the extremely powerful influence resulting from the interpretation of the facts, usually explained by resorting to the supernatural and often denying the realistic content of the values of justice (or overriding reality itself)."

"It should also be mentioned that, at times, when the injured party disagrees with the decision and believes it to be unjust, they may react in various ways, even commit murder, as a form of personal revenge."

ETLJB respectfully agrees with the observations made by Xanana Gusmao about traditional justice systems in East Timor and urges the greatest caution in the consideration of any proposal to "reactivate" it. Laws in a democratic society are created by the lawful processes enshrined in the Constitution; enacted by the legitimate representatives in the legislative organs of the state and enforced by the executive and judicial organs.
 Source: TLMDC Translation of article in Diario Nacional 24 May 2013; 2005 ETLJ 3 On the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Conflict Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste  Edited by Warren L. Wright

24 May 2013

New web site for the President of the Republic of Timor-Leste

Image of Taur Matan Ruak
Taur Matan Ruak. Image: Twitter
ETLJB - The President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) has launched a new web site. Press releases, speeches, messages, visits, activities of the Presidency are published on the web site which is available in Tetum, Portuguese and English.

The url for the new web site (English version) is: http://presidenciarepublica.tl/?lang=en

The President of East Timor is Taur Matan Ruak, former Commander of the East Timor Defence Force. Source: President of East Timor Web Site Edited by Warren L. Wright

23 May 2013

Suai District Court hands down suspended sentence in domestic violence case

ETLJB 23 May 2013 - On 17 May 2013, the Suai District Court judged a case of domestic violence committed by the defendant against his spouse. The case occurred in Sub-district Balibo, District of Bobonaro.

The Public Prosecutor submitted that on 4 July 2012, the defendant called his wife a ‘whore’ because she left and came back home at night. The defendant then brought a machete and threw it at the victim’s right leg, causing her to suffer injuries on her right leg.

The Public Prosecutor charged the defendant with article 145 of the Penal Code on simple offence against physical integrity with article 35 of the Law Against Domestic Violence. In final arguments, the Public Prosecutor asked the court to sentence the defendant to one year in prison, however suspending it for 2 years.

“The actions of the defendant in this case were serious because he used a weapon to injure the victim. JSMP questions whether article 145 on simple offence against physical integrity is the appropriate charge in this case,” said Luis de Oliveira Sampaio, Executive Director, JSMP.

The defendant confessed to the charge and promised to the court that he will not continue such behaviour against his spouse.

The court found that the defendant committed domestic violence against his spouse and sentenced him to 1 year in prison, however suspending the sentence for 2 years. The defendant must also pay a $30 judicial fine.

The case was registered in Suai District Court, Case Number: 83/2013/TDS. The hearing was presided by Dr. Constançio Basmery. Dr. Felismino Cardoso, International Prosecutor, represented the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The defendant was represented by Dr. João Henrique from the Public Defender’s Office. Source: Press release 5/23/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related post
Court must review decision to uphold 15 year prison sentence in aggravated murder case, says JSMP

Court must review decision to uphold 15 year prison sentence in aggravated murder case, says JSMP

ETLJB 23 May 2013 - On 17 May 2013, the Dili District Court upheld a 15 year prison sentence in the re-trial of an aggravated murder case committed by the defendant against her husband. This case was returned to the court of first instance by the Court of Appeal for review in accordance with article 319 of the Penal Procedure Code.

The Public Defender submitted to the court that the defendant had stabbed the victim in self defence because the victim was hitting her. The Public Defender stated that the defendant did not intend to kill the victim.

The court found that the victim had kicked the defendant, causing her to fall to the ground. At that moment, the defendant grabbed a knife that was already lying on the ground and stood up and stabbed the victim once in the chest. The court proved that the defendant committed this act only to defend herself from the actions of the victim. The court did not find that the defendant acted with intent to kill the victim.

 “JSMP is very concerned because in order to prove murder, you must prove that the defendant had the intention to kill the victim. Without intent, the court cannot condemn the defendant for aggravated murder,” said Luis de Oliveira Sampaio, Executive Director JSMP.

 “JSMP is also concerned with this decision because even though the court found that the defendant had committed this act to defend herself, it did not consider legitimate self defence or excessive legitimate self defence in accordance with the Penal Code.”

The Public Defender presented testimony from one witness who declared that he heard the defendant and the victim arguing, and noise from objects falling and physical blows. The witness declared that he saw the defendant stab the victim with a knife, causing the victim to fall. The witness did not see the victim hit the defendant. Before he fell, the victim tried to kick the victim once more but did not manage to do so.

“JSMP believes that in this case, there was insufficient proof to condemn the defendant for aggravated murder and is an unjust decision against the defendant,” said Luis de Oliveira Sampaio, Executive Director JSMP.

“JSMP urges judicial authorities to review this decision and consider all options to correct the decision.”

Dr. José Maria de Araújo delivered this decision, Dr. José Luis Landim represented the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the defendant was represented by Dra. Marcia Sarmento from the Office of the Public Defender. Source: JSMP  Press release 5/23/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Corpse of discarded baby in Dili partly eaten by dogs

ETLJB23 May 2013 - In a case that has shocked the nation, the body of a baby that was found discarded in the rubbish in a Dili suburb is believed to have been partly eaten by dogs.

The horrifying find was discovered in Bebonouk, Kampu Tuti at the Sao Miguel Clinic on Saturday 9th March at 9pm. The local community found the two-day-old baby in the garbage and then called the police.

The Head of the Crimes Investigation Service, Superintendent Calisto Gonzaga, was reported by The Dili Weekly on 30 April that when the police went to find the baby they found that the body of the baby was no longer intact and suspect that some of the body was eaten by a dog rendering it impossible to identify the sex of the baby.

“Now the body of the baby is in the mortuary for an autopsy in order to identify if the baby is a boy or a girl,” said Director Gonzaga. "Right now the investigation process is underway to identify who the mother of the baby is,” he added.

The Dili Weekly also reported that Member of Parliament Ilda Maria da Conceicao asked the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter in order to find out the identity of the baby's mother. “The police investigating must find out who threw this baby away,” said MP da Conceicao. The MP also appealed to other women not to act in this way because this attitude is truly against the commandments of Jesus and it is immoral.

There have been several other reports of discarded babies' bodies in Dili, as archived by the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin. In January 2011, Televizaun Timor-Leste, reported on another case of a baby being abandoned. The report stated that the police had identified a woman who was suspected of abandoning her baby in Ailok Laran [Bairro Pite], a suburb of the Capital Dili  (although another report identified the location as Ruin Naklekar Sub-village).  TVTL also reported in that case that the baby's body had been brought to a resident's home by a dog after having been disposed of in another place. A local resident, Mari Fatima, at the time was reported as saying that "The dog brought the dead baby when I returned back from garden. I was sitting  on a tyre and was thinking that it was a chicken but the children said it is a baby when they went to it," Fatima said.

On 29 May 2009, RTTL reported on the discovery of a baby's body in the Dili suburb of Delta 3

In 2010, Suara Timor Lorosae reported comments by the Dili Diocese Bishop Monsignor Alberto Ricardo da Costa strongly condemning people who engage in killing and throwing away babies in the country.

The bishop said the people were inhuman, immoral and irresponsible and said such actions were against the country's culture. He called on the country's people to put hands together work for humanity and protecting children for a better future. Source: The Dili Weekly 30/04/2013, TVTL 20/01/2011 & 24/01/2011, Suara Timor Lorosae 04/06/2010 RTTL 29/05/2009. ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

22 May 2013

Public consultation on Draft Law On Social Communications

ETLJB  22 May 2013 - The Dili Weekly reports on a seminar entitled "Regulation of Social Communications and Building a Culture of Responsibility" conducted by the Government on the draft Law on Social Communications.

TDW reports that according to the Secretary of State for Social Communication (SEKOMS), Nelio Isaac, after gathering ideas from participants at the international seminar on the draft, the draft needs more articles added to it.

He considered the criticisms and suggestions from the participants over the three days (20-23 March) to be very constructive to develop the draft law.

“There were a lot of ideas so I think that after the seminar we will probably add some articles in the draft according to necessity,” the Secretary is reported to have said.

Even though in the Republic of Timor-Leste Constitution Articles 40 and 41 guarantees freedom of the press and of expression, according to the Secretary of State the draft law is very important for journalists to become more professional and more responsible.

That’s why the President of the Association of Journalists Timor-Lorosa’e (AJTL) Tito Filipe said there were still a lot of weaknesses in the draft law and that is why they should not rush to present the draft to the Council of Ministers and National Parliament.

“We require a discussion and consultation with the competent entities to fix this so it will not impact adversely on journalists in the future,” said the AJTL President.

As a journalist, he thanked the efforts of Team V that drafted the law but said the draft law is too general and that’s why they disagreed with some of its provisions.

“We want a thorough discussion. That is why today we will provide an opportunity for journalists to input ideas and not have a discussion closed and only for advisers because this law will be applied in the interest of the media not the advisers,” said the President of AJTL.

The Secretary of State said the door of SEKOMS was open and ready to give support to journalist associations to discuss the draft law because there is still time to discuss and intervene from journalists as the draft is very important.

“I don’t want to rush without quality, slowly but with quality. There is still time after the seminar so we can elaborate on this and I think that in May at least we can present it to the Council of Ministers to make a decision on the final draft before submitting it to the parliament,” said Secretary of State Issac.

According to observations during the discussion there was a lot of criticism from journalist associations and journalists because the law regulated the rights and obligations of journalists.

Article 8 of the draft law was criticised a lot by journalists from Radio and Television Timor-Leste (RTTL) because this article forbids journalists from becoming public servants while they work as journalists. Editorial Chief of TVTL Paulino Quintas suggested that the draft be amended to provide for an exemption to journalists from RTTL. Source: The Dili Weekly 30/04/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related posts
Timor-Leste's Opposition leader criticises draft media law
Amnesty International says journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruption
Penal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste 

Lao Hamutuk Statement on the Defamation Case against East Timor's Media
East Timor Press Freedom and Defamation in relation to the Applicable Law
Press freedom under attack again as two journalists under house arrest 

Amnesty International says journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruptionPenal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste Two journalists fined $150 for "slanderous denunciation" 

18 May 2013

Military will not intervene in police jurisdiction, says F-FDTL Deputy Commander

ETLJB 18 May 2013 - The Deputy Commander of the East Timor Defence Force (F-FDTL), Brigadier General Filomeno Paixao, was reported by Radio Timor Leste on 16 May as saying that he refused to conduct operations against groups acting illegally in remote areas to extort money from the people.

Paixao said F-FDTL would not hold operations against these illegal groups because it was a responsibility of the Timorese National Police (PNTL) and the law prohibits the military from conducting such operation in the country.

“F-FDTL only holds operations when the police request the support from the military because it is against the law for the military to [enforce the criminal laws],” Paixao said.

He added that PNTL would continue building cooperation with F-FDTL to guarantee security in the country.

ETLJB welcomes this statement from the military in East Timor as consistent with the constitutional separation of the roles of the police and the military forces in a democratic society. In the past, the government has wrongfully deployed the military to intervene in matters of law enforcement that should properly be undertaken only by the police force and those interventions have compromised democratic principles and adversely affected the rule of law. See further, for example, 2008 ETLJ 2 Joint Command for PNTL and F-FDTL Undermines Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform in Timor-Leste (Draft) Bu V. E. Wilson B Sc Env Sci (Hons) LLM 19 February 2008. Source: Radio Timor-Leste 16 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

17 May 2013

Draft Minerals Law issued by Minister for Natural Resources as Prime Minister accuses ConicoPhillips of stealing the country's oil and gas wealth

Minister for Natural Resources Alfredo Pires
ETLJB 17 May 2013 - East Timor's Minister for Natural Resources Mr. Alfredo Pires has officially launched the draft of the country’s minerals law that will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval, TVTL reported yesterday.

“This is our draft law and it will be sent to the Council of Ministers for approval. With this law, we can protect our natural resources, such as gold, magnesium and others,” Pires told journalists.

Minister Pires affirmed they would also consult with civil society organisations about this draft law so that they can provide input.

The National Director for Petroleum, Roberta Soares, is also reported to have said this law would benefit companies that underetake exploration the country’s natural resources in the future.

Meanwhile, Diario Nacional also reported that the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has said that Timor-Leste had a problem with the ConocoPhillips company that has explored and exploited oil and gas in the Timor Sea, accusing the company of wanting to continue creating economic imperialism to steal the wealth of Timor-Leste.

Gusmao said ConocoPhillips did not pay tax to the Government but wanted to continue stealing Timorese wealth. Therefore Timor-Leste would no longer tolerate ConocoPhillips. 
Source: Televizaun Timor-Leste 16 May 2013 and Diario Nacional 16 May 2013 English translations published by the East Timor Media Development Centre. Edited by Warren L. Wright

16 May 2013

Convicted former Justice Minister continues criticism of justice system

Image of forrmer Justice Minister Lucia Lobato
Former Justice Minister Lobato. Image: GOET
ETLJB 16 May 2013 - The former Justice Minister in Xanana Gusmao's IV Constitutional Government who was convicted on charges relating to corruption in the administration of a prisons uniform contract tender while she was in office and sentenced to 5 years jail by the Dili District Court continues her criticisms of the justice process in East Timor. 

According to an English translation of a report by Televizaun Timor-Leste on 15 May 2013 published by the Timor Leste Media Development Centre, the former minister has said that the justice process in Timor-Leste has not functioned properly and her case has been filed in the Public Prosecution office.

The Public Prosecution filed Ms. Lobato’s case for further processing following allegations that there is new evidence proving that some judges engaged in manipulating the verdict in her corruption case.

“The Public Prosecution should listen to me as victim and it does not listen to the Court of Appeal President who knows well the case,” she said.

She is also reported to have alleged that the Public Prosecution was trying to save international judges who were suspected of being engaged in the manipulation of justice in the court. 
Source: TVTL via TLMDC Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related reports
Convicted former Justice Minister may be released pending extraordinary appeal 
Convicted former Justice Minister Lobato evacuated from prison to National Hospital
Rogerio Lobato Returns to Timor-Leste
President's wife visits jailed former Justice Minister Lucia Lobato as lawyers plan to seek executive sentence reduction
Chief Justice takes case against Fretilin MP to Public Prosecutor
Justice minister sues East Timor newspaper
Former Justice Minister Lucia Lobato to go to jail for 5 years
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
Prime Minister assumes powers of the Minister of Justice  

Objections to perceived government interference in judicial process in Timor-Leste

15 May 2013

Objections to perceived government interference in judicial process in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 15 May 2013 - Objections have been publicly raised about perceived government interference in the judicial process in Timor-Leste regarding the killing of a man by police in Hera on  July 16, 2012 during the post-election outbreaks of violence.

Timor Post reported today that the President of the Timor-Leste Parliamentary Women’s Group (Tetum acronym GMPTL),  Josefa Pereira Soares MP, has urged the government not to interfere politically with the trial process in the Hera homicide case because it can further undermine the Timor-Leste judiciary.

“This is not just a threat to democracy but also a threat to the justice system because state institutions each have their own function and people should not stick their hands where they are not meant to,” said the President of GMPTL to Timor Post at the National Parliament, Tuesday 14 April last, after a plenary session of the parliament.

The GMPTL president said that she laments greatly the government taking the position of interfering with the Hera homicide trial because it will impede the work of others in reaching a fair decision.

“I think all us Timorese must be ready to submit ourselves to justice according to law, if a wrong has been committed, as individuals who commit crimes must answer before the courts and submit to the decision of the court.  There should not be any interference from any politician because that is simply wrong, and contrary to our constitution and laws,” lamented  Deputy Josefa.

Timor Post also reported on May 14, 2013 that the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s had requested the President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) to interven in the Hera homocide case in which certain police officers are suspected of being engaged in the case.

In the meantime, the Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) expressed the hope that the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, will not intervene in the Hera trial process which is currently proceeding in the court.

JSMP Director Luis de Oliveira Sampaio said that if the Head of State does intervene then the rule of law in Timor-Leste will be put at grave risk.

Even if the Hera incident occurred for political reasons, because human life was prejudiced then those responsible must answer before the courts.

“We await that the President of the Republic will not in fact act in any way to cut across the judicial process underway, because we can only imagine that if he does, then the rule of law in Timor-Leste will be manifestly under grave threat,” he told the Timor Post recently in his office. Source: Timor Post 15 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright 

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JSMP calls for investigation into Armindo Pereira Alves' death

Interfering Hera case, democratic state threatened

Director for Judicial System Monitoring (JSMP), Luis Oliveira Sampaio hoped that, President TMR would not interfere the Hera case which left a young man was shot dead in 2012 after CNRT party’s national conference.

“We are strongly hoping that, President of the Republic will not interfere the Hera case in the process of trial,” he said.

11 May 2013

First Debate on Compulsory Military Service in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 11 May 2013 - According to the plan of H.E. the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, the first meeting on the plan for implementing military conscription took place on Friday (26/04/2013), at F-FDTL headquarters, between members of the Military House of the Presidency of the Republic, the Secretary of State for Defence (SED), the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and F-FDTL senior officers.

Frei Guterres, advisor to the Presidency’s Military House, in his presentation said that "H.E. the President of Republic wants to implement compulsory military service for the youth within the so-called 'Cidadania Civica Patriota' (CCP) programme, which is aimed at increasing the sense of nationalism and patriotism, thus contributing to the defence of the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity". Frei Guterres added that the programme will “reinforce nationalism and citizenship, further strengthen the awareness of the youth towards society, strengthen moral discipline, contribute to alleviating unemployment and reduce drug and martial arts related crimes”.

In his speech, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Lere Anan Timur, stated that the "compulsory military service is good for Timor-Leste since it strengthens patriotism and nationalism among youngsters" and pointed out the importance of "further discussing the issue, involve important entities, as well as the civil society” with a view to getting “information and suggestions on the impact, advantages and disadvantages of compulsory military service".

Major-General Lere Anan Timur added that it will be difficult for the F-FDTL to implement the law on compulsory military service in one or two years since the institution is currently facing a series of challenges related to human resources.

The Secretary of State for Defence, Júlio Tomás Pinto, on implementation of the compulsory military service, said: "It is necessary to carry out a comparative study of those countries where military service is compulsory, with a view to identifying the advantages and disadvantages of its implementation in Timor-Leste.”

The Secretary of State for Defence agreed with Major-General Lere Anan Timur on the need of "conducting a public consultation on the concept of compulsory military service before deciding".

Present at the meeting were the Chief of the Military House of the Presidency of the Republic, Colonel José da Costa Soares “Trix”, the advisor to the Military House, Frei Guterres, the Secretary of State for Defence, Júlio Tomás Pinto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Lere Anan Timur, and F-FDTL senior officers. Source: Office of the Presidency Press Release  April 29, 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Justice Ministry holds seminar on draft land law

ETLJB 11 May 2013 - The Ministry of Justice has held a seminar at Hotel Vilaverde to discuss the draft of the country’s proposed new land law.

Minister for Justice Dionsio Babo said this law was very important for communities who are currently facing land dispute problems.

The Minister made the comments during a speech at the ceremony for the opening of the seminar.

He confirmed that the law would help resolve the communities’ land dispute problems, especially for the communities in the Capital of Dili.

Babo added his ministry had consulted with NGOs and other international organizations on the draft of the law and said they good feedback and submissions from those organizations.

The previous land law that was enacted by the IV Constitutional Government was vetoed by the then President, Jose Ramos Horta.  Source: Televizaun Timor-Leste, May 1, 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

See related reports on land issues on the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin
Community Land in East Timor: Compensation for Acquisition for Public Purposes
President vetoes land and property law
Land and Housing Rights in Timor-Leste
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

Convicted former Justice Minister Lobato evacuated from prison to National Hospital

ETLJB 11 May 2013 - Diario Nacional reported on 7 May that the former Minister for Justice Lucia Lobato, who has been convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 5 years jail, has been evacuated urgently to the Guido Valadares National Hospital of  on the grounds that she is suffering from high-blood pressure.

Lobato's Lawyer, Jose Camoes, is reported to have said he did not know what his client was suffering from; therefore his client has been evacuated to HNGV for medical treatment.

"We evacuated her to HNGV to identify her illness during her imprisonment so that she can be diagnosed. The medical staff at the hospital will provide a report and are expected to recommend that she receive medical treatment abroad," he said.

Lucia's uncle, Rogerio Lobato, who was convicted of crimes arising out of the illegal distribution of state weapons to civilians during the 2006 crisis, was also granted leave to go overseas for medical treatment. He was eventually pardoned.

Some in East Timor are more equal before the law than others.

 Source: Diario Nacional 07/05/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related reports
Rogerio Lobato Returns to Timor-Leste
President's wife visits jailed former Justice Minister Lucia Lobato as lawyers plan to seek executive sentence reduction
Chief Justice takes case against Fretilin MP to Public Prosecutor
Justice minister sues East Timor newspaper
Former Justice Minister Lucia Lobato to go to jail for 5 years
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
Prime Minister assumes powers of the Minister of Justice

Report of racist anti-Chinese comments by Prime Minister Gusmao

ETLJB 11 May 3013 - A report in Jornal Nacional Diario on 7 May 2013 records some recent public statements by the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao that are overtly racist. According to the report, the Prime Minister said that  the country's "capable people...contribute to the thinking of the people, so that the Chinese cannot dominate Timorese in the capital, Dili."

“Organize yourselves, meet together, speak with one another, otherwise the "Shing-Zhang" will rise above you, otherwise we talk about commerce to do what, industry to do what, because the biggest danger to us is that we have money, but if we did not have money then we will feel ashamed when our kids go asking for money, our kids go asking for US$20 but they only give US$10, we thank them and we are happy, but we have money so we don’t worry anymore,” Xanana explained.

At the same time, however, the Government has done nothing to limit the number of Chinese migrant workers in East Timor. When I was living in East Timor (2000-2004), I observed significant numbers of Chinese workers working on building projects doing jobs that were apparently unskilled and that could have been done by local workers. Of course, migrant workers are cheap and easily exploited by those who employ them so the project grantees can make more profit while local youth remain idle.

The position of the Chinese in East Timor is similar to that in other colonised Asian societies. In Indonesia, for example, commercial concessions and land were granted by the Dutch to Chinese migrants who played a large part in the operation of the colonial economy. In post-independence Indonesia, formal and informal discrimination against Indonesians of Chinese descent was part and parcel of their daily lives. Chinese descent Indonesians were never employed in the public service, Chinese language and characters were outlawed and Chinese-descent Indonesians were forced to adopt Indonesian-style names. During the 1998 crisis, many Chinese-descent Indonesians were attacked, beaten and killed, their businesses destroyed and many Chinese-descent women were raped by mobs.

In East Timor too, Chinese migrants were granted land and business concessions by the Portuguese colonial government and the evidence of that can be seen on the streets of Dili. The Chinese-descent East Timorese were targetted by the Indonesians when the invasion began and most fled. Some returned after East Timor broke away from Indonesia and reclaimed their land that they had been forced to abandon.

As one commentator notes*, the reported comments by the Prime Minister "provide a glimpse into the xenophobic undercurrent simmering beneath the facade of democratic and tolerant Timorese elites." But they also carry the danger of incitement to racial hatred and violence against East Timor's Chinese-descent citizens.

The Chinese government has been a significant donor to East Timor which makes the Prime Minister's observations even more bewildering.

 *http://www.diakkalae.com/2013/05/timors-yellow-peril.html Accessed 11/05/2013
TETUM Original

Jornal Nacional Diario Tersa, 07 Maiu 2013 Sosializasaun CM Iha Dili Adia Ba 25 Maiu “PM Xanana: Intelektuais Dili Labele Hanoin De’it Osan” - Xanana mos husu matenek nain sira atu kontribui ba povu nia hanoin hodi nune’e Xina sira labele dumina fali Timroan sira iha kapital Dili.

“Organiza an ba, hasoru malu ba, koalia ba malu, se la’e Shing-Zhang mak sa’e hela ba leten de’it, se lae ita temi komersiu ne’e atu halo saida, industria ne’e atu halo saida, tanba ita nia risku boot mak ita iha osan, osan laiha karik ita moe ita oan ita bah usu, dala ruma U$20 dolar sira fo U$10 dolar, ita agradese no kontenti ona, maibe ita iha osan ita la preokupa ona,” Xanana fundamenta. Source: Diario Nacional; Diak ka lae Edited by Warren L. Wright

10 May 2013

A Threat for Present and Future Generations: Environmental Perspectives on National Security

ETLJB 10 May 2013 - Mahein Nia Lian (Mahein’s Voice) No. 51 analyzes threats against human security and national security for present and future generation of Timor-Leste from the environmental perspective. Fundasaun Mahein (FM) believes that such threats against personal security, economic security, and national security are linked with various dimensions of environmental conditions. These conditions even have implications beyond national security, to regional security and international security.

This is because traditional security terminology became more complex when the United Nations Organization introduced a new concept of security covering food security, human security, and health security. Food security, good sanitation, good shelter, low levels of poverty, low maternal mortality rates, and female participation in society are all parameters for measuring development within this new concept of security.

In Timor-Leste as well, environmental security issues pose challenges for the nation’s future development. Timor-Leste has presented on climate change issues at a high-level event at the United Nations in New York. The presentation stated that poverty was the primary cause of the environmental degradation and was the main contributor of climate change in Timor-Leste.

There are various factors for environmental degradation in Timor-Leste, such as community actions – arising in part from poverty – that place little value on environmental preservation. These actions posing a threat to the environmental security in Timor-Leste include cutting trees for firewood, throwing garbage in improper places, and certain agricultural activities.

Yet this environmental degradation contributes in turn to poverty and poses problems for food security, human security, and health security. Therefore even minimum attention to the environment can affect flooding during the wet season, water availability in the dry season, fertile soil erosion, and ultimately, food security. When food security issues affect the individual, the threats trigger other security issues, becoming threats to economic and health security in the local community and the nation.

Food insecurity (food crisis) is caused by a lack of natural resources and economic resources due to environmental degradation. It can also affect migration patterns within Timor-Leste, and can cause conflict in society as land conflicts over agricultural production.

1. FM recommends that society become conscious of environmental concerns and to begin conserving the environment for the future generations. FM also recommends that the government continue conducting environmental education programs to community, and evaluating development projects that pose great risks to the environment.

2. FM recommends that the state continue cultural programs such as “Tara Bandu” in order to conserve the environment now and guarantee the sustainability of the environment for future. FM has observed that our environment is at risk for our future generation.

 3. Food insecurity can start from the individual and spread as a threat to economic and health security threats in the community and nation. These threats hold grave implications for political stability and internal security.

Source: Fundasaun Mahein Press Release  8 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Timor-Leste Parliament suspends immunity from prosecution of Secretary of State for Institutional Strengthening

ETLJB10 May 2013 - East Timor's Judicial System Monitoring Program reports that the National Parliament suspends Françisco dacosta Soares Borlaco indefinitely from his position as Secretary of State for Institutional Strengthening

On 07 May 2013 in a plenary session the National Parliament discussed and voted on Resolution No 7/III (1ª) of the National Parliament regarding the indefinite suspension of  Françisco da Costa Soares Borlaco as the Secretary of State for Institutional Strengthening. This suspension was made pursuant to a request from Dili District Court in relation to allegations against Françisco da Costa Borlaco in a case involving the misuse of authority which occurred on 29 February 2009.

During the discussion the majority of MPs voted in favor of the indefinite suspension or removal of the member of government to enable him to attend his trial from 28 May 2013 until the matter is settled by the court. This resolution passed with a majority of 55 votes in favor, 3 votes against and with 2 MPs abstaining.

“JSMP welcomes the political purpose and consistency of the members of the National Parliament to fulfill their obligations in accordance with the provisions set out in the Constitution. This reflects a very progressive from of political decision making and progress from previous years, whereby in the past the community was very confused about cases involving members of the government” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP observed that before the debate had commenced the MPs gave their vote and recommendations to the head of the National Parliament, to examine if the suspension of the aforementioned member of government would be indefinite or only temporary in order to avoid influencing or undermining the role of the judges in following up and deciding the aforementioned case. Source: JSMP Press Release 08 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

09 May 2013

Chief Justice takes case against Fretilin MP to Public Prosecutor

ETLJB 09 May 2013 - The Chief Justice of East Timor, His Honour Claudio Ximenes has taken his case regarding public allegations against him by Fretilin Member of Parliament, Aniceto Guterres that he had inappropriately intervened in the proceedings concerning the former Justice Minister, Lucia Lobato,  to the Public Prosecutor.

Televizaun Timor Leste reported on 7 May remarks by the newly-appointed Public Prosecutor, Jose da Costa Ximenes, to journalists saying that the claim by the Chief Judge against the Member of Parliament had been presented to the Office of the Public Prosecutor and was now being processed in the Dili office.

TVTL also reported that MP Guterres recently said that he would present more evidence about the Chief Justice's involvement in the case. Source: TVTL Edited by Warren L. Wright 

07 May 2013

Aggravated murder, manslaughter, sexual abuse of minors, assaults and property damage cases heard in Baucau District Court

ETLJB 07 May 2013 - The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program hasreleased the English translation of its report on the monitoring of proceedings in the Baucau District court during the month of March 2013. The text of the translation of the case summaries follows.

In March 2013 JSMP continued regular monitoring activities at the Baucau District Court.

During this period JSMP managed to observe 15 cases. These cases comprised 1 case of minor theft, 2 cases of sexual violence, 6 cases involving simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence, 1 case of ordinary maltreatment, 1 case of serious maltreatment. In addition there was 1case of manslaughter, 1 case of aggravated murder, 1 case of aggravated property damage and 1 case of making threats.

The majority of these cases were settled by the court with the issuance of suspended sentences. This included cases of domestic violence. However, in one case of sexual abuse of a minor and one case of aggravated murder the court handed down jail sentences. In addition 1 case of domestic violence and one case of aggravated property damage were adjourned because the parties did not respond to summons issued by the court. 

The cases decided by the court included a case registered as Case No. 97/pid.s/2012/TBC, related to manslaughter that was very interesting and deserving of in-depth analysis. JSMP observed that the examination of evidence in this case was not very thorough. There were a number of inconsistencies between the testimony given by the defendant and the witnesses. For example the defendant stated that when he sounded his horn 3 times, the victim did not hear it and continued walking behind the car and smacked his head on the back of the car. On the other hand the two witnesses sitting beside the defendant in the front of the car testified that the defendant tried to cross/turn his car to avoid another car coming from the opposite direction and the body of the car struck the victim’s head and caused his death.

JSMP believes that manslaughter is a very serious charge and should not result in acquittal, especially when there are a number of facts that contradict each other. Actually the court should have punished the defendant with a prison sentence or applied another sentence because the negligence of the defendant caused another person to lose his life. The crime of negligence is not included in the categories of crimes that can have their unlawfulness excluded under Article 43 of the Penal Code.

The information below outlines the hearings conducted:

Summary of the trial process at the Dili District Court February 2013

ETLJB 07 May 2013 - East Timor's Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on monitoring in proceedings in the Dili District Court during the month of February 2013. The text of the translation of the case summaries follows.

 In February 2013 JSMP observed 19 criminal cases involving a range of different crimes. These cases comprised 5 cases of ordinary maltreatment, 7 cases of domestic violence (including 1 case of serious maltreatment against a spouse), 1 case of serious misuse of authority, 1 case of misappropriation of public assets, 1 case of illegal gambling, 1 case of simple offence against physical integrity, 1 case of exploiting illegal gambling, 1 case of sexual abuse of a minor, 1 case of aggravated theft, 1 case of defamatory false information and 1 case of making a threat.

Some of these cases have been decided by the court with a range of different outcomes. For example, several cases resulted in suspended sentences including for the crime of ordinary maltreatment characterized as domestic violence. Some cases resulted in a fine, and the courts validated settlements in other cases because the parties agreed to withdraw their cases and the remaining cases were adjourned because the parties did not appear in court, or due to procedural reasons.

The information below outlines the hearings conducted:

1.      Crime of simple offence against physical integrity – Case No.269/C.Ord/2012/TDD

Judge composition:                 :Single judge
Judge                                       : Jacinta Correia da Costa
Public Prosecutor                    : Domingos Barreto
Lawyer                                    : José da Silva (Public Defender)
Conclusion                              :Resolved (Ordered to pay a fine)

The court heard this case on 4 February 2013 to read out the charges of the public prosecutor and also to hear the testimony of the defendant in a case of ordinary maltreatment characterized as domestic violence. This crime was allegedly committed by the defendant MM against the victim MFBL (his wife).The incident allegedly occurred on 12 May 2012 in Quintal Ki’ik–Santa Cruz, Cristo Rei Sub-District, Dili.