06 July 2013

No justice for women in traditional justice systems in Timor-Leste

Image: Arte Moris
ETLJB 6 July 2013 - According to a women’s rights advocate, traditional justice carried out in Timor-Leste, especially in the districts, doesn’t benefit women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse because they don’t receive justice in their lives.

The Dili Weekly reported on 5 July 2013, that women’s advocate Filomena Reis, who has analysed and observed traditional justice systems, said even though there are not many cases resolved through traditional justice in Dili, in rural areas its use is increasing because people prioritise family relations over formal justice.

“I can see the traditional process can be good and fast, but there’s no advantage for women who continue to become victims, because when families say they’ve reinstated her good name and paid the fine, this benefits the woman’s family not the woman,” said Reis recently at Garden Beach, Dili.

According to her, traditional justice can only resolve civil cases but for criminal cases against women, including cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual violations, they should use formal justice to resolve the case fairly.

Therefore, she encouraged women who are victims of gender-based violence to address the case through the formal justice sector in a court.

“Don’t be afraid to report it when you encounter such violence and you should know that violence is a crime that should be addressed through the formal justice system,” she said.

On the other hand, the President for Commission A (for the Constitution Affairs, Justice, Public Administration, Local Power and Anti-Corruption), MP Carmelita Caetano Moniz, said the law on domestic violence doesn’t allow traditional justice to judge criminal cases like domestic and sexual violence.

“We consider domestic violence a public crime which cannot be resolved through traditional justice,” said MP Moniz.

She added it is illegal and against the law to use traditional justice to resolve criminal cases like domestic violence and sexual violations.

MP Moniz also called for the government to raise awareness about the contents of the law to guarantee justice for women in the community, especially in rural areas because criminal cases are often resolved through traditional justice. Source: The Dili Weekly 5 July 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Related reports
Suai District Court fails to protect child victim of sexual violence
On the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Dispute Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste

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