30 January 2014

Suai District Court not functioning for more than a week

ETLJB 30/01/2014 JSMP Press Release 27/01/2014 -  Between the 20th-24th January and the 27th-28th January 2014 the Suai District Court did not conduct any trials because there were no judges available. After seeking clarification with the local court clerk it was confirmed that trials were scheduled for the 23rd and 24th January but they did not take place because all of the judges were attending a meeting in Dili. In addition, on the 24th, 27th and 28th January 2014 the court did not schedule any trials for reasons that remain unclear.  Currently there are four permanent judges and one trainee judges at the Suai District Court.

“JSMP is very worried about this situation because for almost 2 weeks, from the 16th and 17th January until now, the court has not been functioning. This situation will have a huge impact on the cases that have to be tried and settled” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP realizes that judges have to participate in all of the important meetings organized by the Court of Appeal to discuss general issues and challenges facing the judges, especially in relation to issues of safety and the well-being of judges in the performance of their work. However JSMP encourages the judges to properly manage the available resources to prevent the possibility of a non-functioning court for a period of almost two weeks. These situations have been avoided in Dili and Baucau where the courts have been functioning normally.

Also, JSMP has received information that the Oecusse District Court has not been functioning until today because a case scheduled for trial requires a panel of judges and the local court only has one judge. The Oecusse District Court can only start functioning and conducting hearings on 3 February 2014.

JSMP believes that the effectiveness and consistency of the trial scheduling process as well as the productivity of the legal institutions is critical to build and strengthen community trust in the justice sector. JSMP has noted that acts of violence have been prevalent, including cases of aggravated murder. JSMP suspects that this situation could be indicative that community members are not really sure that their cases can be processed through the formal legal institutions and they take justice into their own hands, because the formal legal process takes a long time, is very bureaucratic, and there are delays for reasons unknown and a number of other technical obstacles that have to be overcome.

Previously, JSMP questioned the trial schedule at the Baucau, Suai and Oecusse courts on 16-17 January 2014, because after they carried out their duties these courts did not conduct any hearings because no dates were set/scheduled.

JSMP hopes that from this week onwards the courts will start to function normally, so that the principle of a fair trial (simple, speedy, affordable) continues to be upheld by all of the courts. Source: JSMP Press Release 27 January 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

28 January 2014

Statement by Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea

ETLJB 28/01/2014 - For many years, Australia has been stealing the oil and gas from the Timor Sea, in an area which belongs to Timor-Leste under international legal principles. Sadly, Australia has shown its manner and its greed to make our small and poor country in this region lose our resources and sovereignty.

After it became aware of the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, Australia supported Indonesia for more than two decades as it committed genocide against the people of this land, stealing and using its strong economic and political power to trample us, making themselves rich by leaving us in poverty.

A few days ago, the Australian government used its intelligence service to seize documents from Timor-Leste’s lawyer in the CMATS (Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea) arbitration case, and to put pressure on a “whistleblower” so that he could not testify. These are not the practices of a nation which values democracy, freedom and morality. In addition, Australia’s leaders showed their disrespect for the Timor-Leste people – a small, poor people who generously helped Australia during the Second World War against Japan, at the cost of 40,000 Timorese people’s lives.

Today, the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea asks the Government of Australia to: 1. Stop stealing and occupying the Timor Sea, but show your good will as a large nation which follows democratic principles to accept a maritime boundary which follows international law principles.

2. Australia should set an example as a sovereign nation which respects and recognizes the rights of Timor-Leste’s people.

3. Australia should not promote or continue neocolonialism against Timor-Leste’s people, who have suffered this for centuries. We will no longer be your slaves.

4. The Abbott government should apologize to the Maubere people, who have been hugely discriminated against by Australia from the past to the present. If not, we will continue to demonstrate at the Australian Embassy for the indefinite future.

This concludes our press release, and thank you for your attention.

The struggle continues.

Dili 5 December 2013

Juvinal Dias
Representative, Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea
Contact number (+670) 77348703/77126417 Source: Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea Press Release 05/12/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

ICJ: Questions relating to the Seizure and Detention of Certain Documents and Data (Timor-­Leste v. Australia)

ETLJB 28/01/2014 - INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE Peace Palace, Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ The Hague, NetherlandsTel.: +31 (0)70 302 2323 Fax: +31 (0)70 364 9928Website: www.icj-cij.org Press Release Unofficial No. 2013/42
 20 December 2013

Proceedings instituted by Timor-Leste against Australia

Urgent communication to Australia from the President under Article 74, paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court

THE HAGUE, 20 December 2013. Acting in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by Article 74, paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court, Judge Peter Tomka, President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, addressed on Wednesday 18 December 2013 an urgent communication to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, with a copy to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, in the proceedings instituted by Timor-Leste against Australia on 17 December 2013 (see Press Release No. 2013/41).

 The text of this communication is reproduced below:

“I have the honour to refer to the Application filed on 17 December 2013 by the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste instituting proceedings against the Commonwealth of Australia and to the request for the indication of provisional measures filed by the Applicant on the same date.

The convening of the Court for purposes of proceeding to a decision on a Request for the indication of provisional measures should be dealt with as a matter of urgency (Article 74, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court). At the same time, the date for the hearings should be fixed so as to afford Parties an opportunity of being represented at it (Article 74, paragraph 3, of the Rules of Court).

In the light of these considerations the hearings on the request made by the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste for the indication of provisional measures have now been fixed for 20-22 January 2014.

The Court will at this juncture have to decide whether the conditions for the indication of provisional measures are met.

As President of the International Court of Justice, acting in conformity with Article 74, paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court, I hereby draw the attention of Your Government to the need to act in such a way as to enable any Order the Court will make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects, in particular to refrain from any act which might cause prejudice to the rights claimed by the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in the present proceedings.”

East Timor Public Holidays 2014

ETLJB 28/01/2014 - The public holidays with a fixed date and variable date for 2014, determined by the Law n.o 10/2005 of 10th of August, are the following:

a)       1st of January – New Year’s Day (fixed date public holiday);

b)       18th of April – Holly Friday (variable date public holiday);

c)       1st of May –World Labour Day (fixed date public holiday);

d)       20th of May – Restoration of Independence Day (fixed date public holiday);

e)       19th of June – Corpus Christi (variable date public holiday);

f)         28th of July – Idul Fitri (variable date public holiday);

g)       30th of August –Popular Consultation Day (fixed date public holiday);

h)       4th of October – Idul Adha (variable date public holiday);

i)         1st of November – All Saints Day (fixed date public holiday);

j)         2nd of November – All Souls Day (fixed date public holiday);

k)       12th of November – Youth National Day (fixed date public holiday);

l)         28th of November – Proclamation of Independence Day (fixed date public holiday);

m)   7th of December – National Heroes Day (fixed date public holiday);

n)    8th of December – Day of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and Timor-Leste Patroness (fixed date public holiday);

o)    25th of December – Christmas Day (fixed date public holiday).

The Law n.o 10/2005, of 10th of August, determines national public holidays and the official commemorative dates. Source: Government of East Timor Press Release January 27, 2014

27 January 2014

Timor Sea Justice Campaign News Grassroots campaign urges Australian PM to intervene to settle Timor oil dispute

ETLJB Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - The Timor Sea Justice Campaign has launched an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbot urging him to establish permanent maritime boundaries with East Timor in accordance with international law and is asking members of the public to put their names to it.

Spokesperson for the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Tom Clarke, said it was time to move on from his predecessors’ hard-nosed haggling over oil and gas resources.

“Timor is not asking for charity, they are only asking for what they are legally entitled to, no more and no less,” said Mr Clarke.

The letter calls on the Prime Minister to immediately enter fresh negotiations in good faith with the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmao, to establish equitable boundaries in keeping with current international law.

“If our Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to preserve the legacy of goodwill and mateship so effectively fostered by Australia’s intervention in 1999, he needs to sit down in good faith with his Timorese counterpart and show that he’s ready to talk about a permanent boundary. No more of these temporary deals that simply short-change East Timor,” said Mr Clarke.

The letter also urges the PM to resubmit Australia to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea to demonstrate that Australia is willing to abide by international law. In disputes such as this, current international law overwhelmingly favors a ‘median line’ solution – that is a line halfway between the two coastlines.

“This would mean that if oil and gas fields are located closer to East Timor they would belong to East Timor, and if fields were closer to Australia they would belong to us. That’s a solution which is both simple and fair,” said Mr Clarke.

Mr Clarke said he was confident that Australians of all walks of live would endorse the letter to help highlight the need for permanent boundaries to deliver a more equitable share of oil and gas revenues to one of the poorest countries in Asia.

“There’s not a fair minded Australian who could be comfortable with the fact that successive Australian Governments have short-changed East Timor out of billions of dollars in government revenues from gas and oil resources that according to international law should belong to East Timor, so I except more and more people of all political persuasions will get behind our campaign,” said Mr Clarke.

Anyone wanting to add their names to the Timor Sea Justice Campaign’s petition can do so at:


Source: Timor Sea Justice Campaign Press Release 22/01/2013

26 January 2014

Proceedings Initiated by Timor-Leste Against Australia Commence at ICJ

ETLJB 26/01/2014  - On 20th January proceedings initiated by Timor-Leste against Australia will commence at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, established to adjudicate on disputes between States.

In Monday’s court proceedings Timor-Leste will seek an Order from the ICJ concerning documents belonging to Timor-Leste and seized from the office of one of Timor-Leste's legal advisers. The documents were seized by order of the Attorney General of Australia and relate to a range of confidential and highly sensitive matters, including among other things an arbitration that Timor-Leste had recently initiated against Australia. The seizure was executed by the Australian Secret Intelligence Organization (ASIO), shortly before the first meeting of the arbitration tribunal established to hear that case.

The arbitration was initiated by Timor-Leste against Australia under article 23 of the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty and seeks a declaration that the Treaty remains in force in its original form, notwithstanding amendments purportedly made by a later treaty.  Timor-Leste contends that the later Treaty is invalid and ineffective because Australia's secretly and unlawfully spied on Timor-Leste, bugging its government offices and listening in to highly confidential discussions during the course of the negotiations on the Treaty.  Such conduct is a violation of international law. The treaties provide for the sharing of offshore oil in the Timor Sea between Timor-Leste and Australia, and are widely considered to have been drafted to the advantage of Australia and the disadvantage of Timor-Leste.

The documents referred to in the ICJ matter were held in the Canberra office of one of Timor-Leste’s lawyers, and were seized without warning. The property of Timor-Leste, the documents contain communications between its lawyers covering legal strategy, analysis and opinions relating both to Timor-Leste’s case in the arbitration and to broader legal and strategic issues. The home of Timor-Leste's key witness in the arbitration was also raided at the same time and his passport was seized.

“In addition to the return of our property, Timor-Leste is seeking the protection of all its communications that attract legal privilege, and an assurance that will provide its lawyers as well as the Government with comfort that their legal documents, dealings and property are secure in accordance with their entitlement under international law,” said Minister of State Agio Pereira.

Timor-Leste’s international law firm DLA Piper has instructed highly regarded barristers and international law specialists Sir Michael Wood and Sir Elihu Lauterpacht.

In Monday's proceedings, which will last for three days, Timor-Leste seeks an interim Order that would require Australia to hand the documents over to the Court, pending a final decision on Timor-Leste's demand for their return. The final decision could take a year or more.  These proceedings will be publicly available via live web streaming at webtv.un.org. Source: Press Release Minister of State and of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and Official Spokesperson for the Government of Timor-Leste Díli, January 19, 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Dili District Court tries case of aggravated murder

ETLJB 26/01/2014 The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on monitoring of a murder case in the Dili District Court. The text of the report follows.

Public prosecutor recommends 23 years imprisonment for defendant in case of aggravated murder - On 21 January 2014 the Dili District Court tried two defendants (DJdS and MDR). The two defendants allegedly killed the victim Ernesto (deceased) on 7 September 2013 in Katraileten Village, Ermera.

“The Crime of murder is a very serious crime and all people should endeavor to settle their problems peacefully without taking the life of another. JSMP urges the court to convict the defendants with a punishment proportional to the seriousness of the crime to prevent similar occurrences in the future,” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP has observed that crimes of murder have taken place in nearly every region. Based on the JSMP court monitoring during the trial of this murder case, the motive behind the murder was not clear. What is worse, often these types of incidents occur as the result of minor problems, but people are more interested in using violence to settle their disputes. People have almost lost their respect for the value of another person’s life. This social phenomenon demands our joint attention and consideration so that this situation can be changed. 

JSMP believes that in addition to the issuance of proportional punishments, other relevant institutions have to do everything possible to seek solutions to change the mentality and behavior of the people so that they become accustomed to dispute resolution mechanisms free from violence, in accordance with those formal mechanisms already in place.

JSMP suspects that sometimes these acts of violence send the message that people have lost their trust in the ability of public institutions to resolve their problems.

In relation to this case, the public prosecutor alleged that on 7 September 2013 the defendant and the victim met each other on a narrow path when they were returning from a plantation. At that time, the defendant and the victim provoked one another and a fight ensued and the defendant fell to the ground. When the defendant got up he immediately slashed the victim in the eye, head and mouth with a machete he was carrying with him. This act caused the victim to die instantly at the scene of the crime.

The public prosecutor charged the defendant for violating Articles 138 and 139 of the Penal Code, and subsections (b), (c) and (f) on murder and aggravated murder.

During the trial the defendant DJdS admitted that the charges of the public prosecutor were true. However the defendant MDR stated that the charges were not true because when the defendant DJdS and the victim were fighting, MDR felt afraid and ran to the police station to report the incident and he did not know about the death of the victim. Nevertheless, the public prosecutor charged the defendant MDR and he was placed in temporary detention.

In his final recommendations the public prosecutor requested for the court to sentence the defendant DJdS to 23 year’s imprisonment, and requested for the court to issue a fair punishment against the defendant MDR.

The public defender in his final recommendations stated that the public prosecutor had made a major error in his charges against the defendant MDR. Because the public defender charged the defendant and placed him in temporary detention all this time, and this will have a negative impact on others in the future, because those that see a fight or murder will not report the incident because they will be afraid of ending up as a defendant in the resulting case. The public defender also believed that the defendant MDR did in fact run away and tell the police about the fight between the defendant DjdS and the victim.

Regarding the defendant DJdS, the public defender requested for the court to carefully consider the mitigating circumstances such as the fact that the defendant was a first time offender and that he has four children. Therefore, the public defender requested for the court to consider the matter and hand down a fair punishment.

This matter was registered as Case No. 596/C.Ord/2013/TDD and was tried by a panel of judges comprising Julio Gantes, Hugo Pui and Jumiati Maria Freitas.  The public prosecution service was represented by Nelson de Carvalho and the Office of the Public Defender was represented by Rui Manuel Guterres.

The hearing to announce the decision will take place on 7 February 2014, at 2pm. Source: JSMP Press Release 22 January 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Former member of the Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia tried at the Dili District Court

Image of JSMP logo
ETLJB 26/01/2014 - The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on proceedings in the Dili District Court concerning crimes against humanity allegedly committed by a member of the former militia group, Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Steel), which, with the support of the Indonesian state, terrorised and murdered independence supporters during the Indonesian occupation; particularly during the referendum on autonomy in 1999. The text of the translation follows.

On 20 January 2014 the Dili District Court tried a case involving serious crimes that occurred on 4 September 1999, in Liquica District. This case involved the defendant LV, a member of the Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia, who was accused of committing crimes against humanity in Liquica District.

“JSMP is happy to see the courts continuing to try crimes against humanity cases to provide justice to victims, to ensure accountability for past crimes and to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future. Therefore, JSMP urges the court actors and all parties involved in this process to deal with these cases in a serious manner befitting the nature and severity of this matter”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.  

JSMP is very concerned because cases involving crimes against humanity are of a very different nature and scale to ordinary crimes. What’s more, in 2011 the Dili District Court already convicted the defendant Valente Lavio for committing crimes against humanity in Liquica District, however currently the convicted person is moving around freely and enjoying his impunity in Indonesia because he absconded when his appeal was still being processed. Until now there has been no effort or commitment on the part of the competent bodies such as the Office of the Prosecutor General and other relevant institutions to bring the convicted person back to Timor-Leste to be held accountable and to obey the decision of the court.

To anticipate similar circumstances in this case, JSMP requested for the court to apply appropriate restrictive measures while the trial is ongoing.

The indictment of the public prosecutor, which was read out to the court, stated that on 4 September 1999 the defendant together with other members of the Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia, with the support of the Indonesian Army (TNI) and the Indonesian Police (POLRI) slapped, punched, kicked and shot dead the victims Jacarias Alves, Duarte dos Santos, Agusto, Markus, Jaime Soares, Domingos and Leopoldo in Liquica District.

In fact there were 58 defendants who were allegedly involved in this case, but the court is only trying the defendant LV because the other defendants have not returned to Timor-Leste and are still living in Indonesia, and several of the defendants have passed away. In relation to this case, the public prosecutor and public defender presented a list of 132 witnesses.

The trial is being conducted by a panel of judges led by Julio Gantes, together with Pedro Raposo de Fiqueredo and Jumiati Freitas. The public prosecution service was represented by Luis Landim and the Office of the Public Defender was represented by Manuel Exposto.

The trial will continue on 10 February 2014, at 7am to hear testimony from the defendant and witnesses. Source: JSMP Press Release 20 January 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

19 January 2014

More than 800 police officers surrender martial arts uniforms

ETLJB 19/01/2014 - Eight hundred and one East Timore police officers surrendered their martial arts clubs uniforms and other attributes to the commander-general of the East Timor National Police on 15 January 2014.

The National Police Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro said that this ceremony demonstrated that police officers  who had previously joined the martial art clubs have abided by the resolution issued by the Government last year to outlaw the clubs which have been involved in frequent and violent conflicts since the restoration of independence in 2002.

National media Suara Timor Lorosae reported on 16/01 that Commissioner Monteiro confirmed there were 801 martial art uniforms handed over from different martial art clubs; namely, 654 from PSHT, 243 from KORK and Kera Sakti 96. The handing over ceremony was attended by the representative of the armed forces and civil society security monitoring organsiation Fundasaun Mahein. Source: Suara Timor-Lorosa’e 16 January 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

2013 Closes with more gang violence on the streets of Dili

ETLJB 19/01/2014 - Conflict among the youth of the county's capital, Dili continued through to the end of 2013 with further violent clashes in the suburb of Lahane in December last.

Two groups of youths from the west and the east of Lahane were involved in the violence that left one young man with injuries. TVTL reported on 16/01 that state security agencies comprised of State Secretary of Security representatives, the Dili District police commander and community leaders have been coordinating to try to resolve the conflict.

TVTL also reported that both groups of the youths involved have appealed to the authorities to legally process those suspected of having committed crimes during the violence. In response, the Dili District Police Commander, Pedro Belo said the police always carry out their tasks to strengthen peace and stability and would take necessary action against people who try to destabilise situation in the country. Source: Televizaun Timor-Leste 16 January 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Happy New Year 2014 to ETLJB Readers

ETLJB 19/01/2014 - We would like to wish our readers and subscribers a belated Happy New Year 2014 and trust that those of you who celebrate Christmas were able to mark the birth of Jesus Christ in peace and that you all enjoyed time with your loved ones over the festive season when many of us are on holidays.

We hope that you are all safe and sound as yet another year begins its speedy passing and that 2014 will be harmonious, full of the achievement of your personal  goals and that we all treat each other more kindly and with mutual respect and dignity.

ETLJB will continue on our mission to monitor, compile and publish news and reports on law and justice issues in Timor-Leste, to draw attention to injustices and violations of human rights and to raise awareness of the central  democratic principles of the rule of law, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary and the transparency and accountability of the State and the Government to the People.

We invite comments and feedback from our readers via the comments section in each post or the Contact Us link in the Navigation Menu as well as any articles that you may write and wish to have published here.

Warren L. Wright BA LLB