28 March 2014

Fundasaun Mahein: Reporting Criminal Cases through Correct Legal Channels

ETLJB 28/03/2014 - From Fundasaun Mahein Press Release 24/03/2014 In Timor-Leste, victims often do not present their legal cases in accordance with the code of the penal process as written in article 49. This article establishes that only appointed institutions that have the legal right to receive such cases can do so. These institutions include the public ministry and policing authorities as well as appointed ombudsman, which have been appointed by the the Constitution Democratic of Timor-Leste.

National media reports published that victims always present cases to the National Parliament-NP or the Prime Minister (including the office of the Republic President). One reason why victims present their cases to the National Parliament is because they want to get responses quickly.  They also hope to create public debate surrounding their cases, as many such cases involve PNTL members, and the investigation process moves very slowly.

This practice has become a widespread habit. Fundasaun Mahein’s monitoring has unveiled that sometimes communities present their cases in order to get support from the National Parliament. To do so, they bring their cases to Parliamentary committees and benches of Parliament. The majority of issues presented by communities are criminal cases, often involving security authorities.

On the other hand, many communities are not aware of the procedure for the investigation process involving PNTL members involved in criminal acts. So when members of the PNTL are involved in crime, victims will present their case to organizations such as the National Parliament. In reality, victim should present these cases to the Criminal Investigation Service and Justice Department inside the PNTL.

Ironically, when communities present these cases to Parliament, the National Parliament often becomes the spokesperson for the referred cases. National Parliament should be transferring such cases to the judiciary system according to the law.

FM’s Recommendations:

Recommend to the National Parliament not to be the spokesperson for victims. When victims present their cases to Parliament, they should be referred to the Public Ministry.  In this way, community members will learn the correct process by which to report their cases (which does not involve National Parliament). The National Parliament should focus only on their duty as legislators and should respect the authority of the judiciary organ.

Recommend to the committee A of the National Parliament, Justice Ministry Ombudsman, and PNTL to take steps to educate the public about how to utilize and report cases within the judicial system.

21 March 2014

JSMP : Baucau District Court hears cases of land dispute, assault, manslaughter and domestic violence in January 2014

ETLJB  21/03/2014 JSMP had released the English translation of its report on monitoring in the Baucau District Court during the month of January 2014. The text of the report follows. Case Summary Baucau District Court January 2014.


After a period of judicial recess between 15 December 2013 and 15 January 2014, the Baucau District Court recommenced its functions and duties on 16 January 2014 as per normal.

In the third and fourth weeks of January 2014, JSMP observed 8 cases (7 criminal cases and 1 civil case), namely 6 cases involving simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence and 1 case of manslaughter. The civil case related to a land dispute. These eight cases are still ongoing.

The information below outlines the hearings conducted:

1.     Crime of simple offences against physical integrity, Case No.161/Crm.S/2013/TDB

Composition of judges   : Single

Judge                             : Afonso Carmona

Public Prosecutor           : Pascasio de Rosa Alves

Public Defender             : Juvinal Yanes

Conclusion                     : Ongoing

On 22 January 2014 the Baucau District Court tried a case of simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence involving the defendant EH who allegedly committed the offence against his wife. This case allegedly occurred on 8 March 2013 in Viqueque.

The public prosecutor alleged that the victim went to mourn at a wake in Viqueque city, starting on 2 March 2013 and she only returned on 8 March 2014. At approximately 11am the victim arrived home and the defendant asked the victim why she took so long to come back from the house where the wake was taking place.

17 March 2014

Fundasaun Mahein (FM): Is Timor-Leste's Intelligence Service Succeeding?

ETLJB 17/03/2014 - Mahein’s Voice report No.72 analyzes Timor-Leste’s intelligence service.  Law No. 09/2008 outlines the National Intelligence System and tasks the FALINTIL-FDTL and the PNTL with collecting national intelligence information.  In addition, decree law No. 03/2009 of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) also assigns members of the Police Information Service (PIS) and Military Information Service (SIM) to the duty of collecting and analyzing information relevant to national security interests.

Legislation has been created to govern how civil, police, and military intelligence members are able to collect information to combat criminal activities that threaten the public interest.  Some priorities for the intelligence service to investigate include the unresolved cases of the 11 February 2008 assassination, missing PNTL weapons, and prisoners who escaped from prison. 

How has the intelligence service failed to resolve these important cases?  The answer lies in the fact that intelligence service members lack the resources and adequate equipment to do their job effectively.  As a result, the information that the intelligence service is able to gather is either irrelevant or offers no practical benefit.  The failure of Timor’s intelligence service function effectively also stems from it’s capacity deficit in analyzing the data it collects.  In addition, coordination between intelligence service institutions has not been well implemented, resulting in the ineffective sharing of information between relevant institutions.

FM’s recommendations:

1.  Strengthening coordination between security institutions conducting intelligence activities such as the NIS, PNTL, F-FDTL and other relevant institutions under national security law.

2.  Provide ongoing capacity building for members conducting intelligence activities to improve their effectiveness and overall impact.

3. Create a program entitled “Popular Information Services” that involves community members and community police in the national intelligence gathering effort and network. Source: Fundasaun Mahein 14/03/2014  http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/03/13/oinsa-serbisu-intelijensia-iha-timor-leste/

Meeting of the East Timor Government 11 March 2014

ETLJB 17/03/2014 - The Government met on Tuesday, 11 March 2014, in the Council of Ministers’ Meeting Room, at the Government Palace, in Dili, and approved:

1. Decree Law approving the Statute of the Leaders of the Pre Administrative DeconcentrationStructures

With the establishment of pre-administrative deconcentration structures, the Government begins a process of reorganization on local State administration, by integrating, under a single structure of administrative control, a significant part of the peripheral services of the State administration. These services will be responsible for performing a growing number of administrative tasks, which definition, nature and form of delegation, will be established by the different government departments.

This diploma, which ensures the concretion of n. 3, of the article 115th, of the Constitution of the Republic, sets the statute of the leaders of pre-administrative deconcentration structures - District Managers and District Managers’ Secretaries – who will have their own and necessary statute, appropriated to the nature and dimension of the responsibilities being taken.

2. Government’s Resolution on the Special Procedure for the Selection of the Leaders of the Pre-administrative Deconcentration Structures

According to the Statute of the Leaders of the Pre Administrative Deconcentration Structures, approved at this meeting of the Council of Ministers, the District Managers and the District Managers’ Secretaries will be appointed by the Council of Ministers, after conducting a special selection procedure. This special procedure is framed by the Statute, however, due to its special and exceptional nature, it is necessary to regulate and operationalize the actions and procedures to perform, for the process to go on, in a stringent, exempt and transparent way.

3. Decree Law which establishes and Approves the National Logistics Centre

The National Logistics Centre (CLN) is a body of the indirect State administration, provided with administrative, directive and technical autonomy, under tutelage of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment.

It is governed by the principles of cost efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of government policies and programs, including food social solidarity and price regulation (rule of "fair price"). It is an integrated system of continuing availability of transportation, warehousing, maintenance of stocks and of essential goods to the population (not only food but also in the construction and public works sector) in satisfaction of collective needs.

4. Government’s Decree approving the remuneration of the Executive Secretary and Board Members of the National Commission for Combating HIV-AIDS in Timor-Leste

Following the approval the establishment of the National Commission to Fight HIV / AIDS in Timor-Leste (TL-NCFA) and its own Statute, at the meeting of the Council of Ministers of October 22nd, 2013 and, recognizing the complexity of national responsibility assumed by the Commission, the Government today approved the remuneration to be paid to the Executive Secretary and Board Members of this Committee.

The Council of Ministers also analysed:

1. Guide for the Use of Financial Resources of the Sucos – Suco Fund for Urban Cleaning

The Suco Fund for Urban Cleaning regulates the existing law and encourages a healthy base of cooperation between the community and the Government, with the aim of keeping the city of Díli clean, thus contributing to sustainable development and public health.

It is intended to be the community itself to manage and develop projects of cleaning of their own Sucos. With this initiative, the Government also wants to encourage the community to improve administrative skills, thus developing the management capacity of the Sucos.

2. Current status of the Process of Accession of Timor-Leste to ASEAN

The Minister of State and for Foreign Affairs, along with the Secretary of State for ASEAN Affairs, presented to the Council of Ministers the current status of the process of accession of Timor-Leste to join ASEAN. Various documents were presented, including the report on the Accession Process of Timor-Leste to ASEAN; Alertness of Timor-Leste and preliminary summary on the Study of the Policy and Community Security in ASEAN (ASEAN Political-Security Community) and Readiness of Timor-Leste; the list of duties, rights and responsibilities of the Member States of ASEAN; information on the three pillars of ASEAN (Political-Security, Economic and Socio-cultural); and information on Data Collection on Cooperation for the accession of Timor-Leste to ASEAN.

3. Organic Structure of the Mission Unit for Sub-regional Integrated Economic Development

The Head of Mission Unit for the negotiation and establishment of the platform on regional cooperation and integrated economic development between Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia presented to the Council of Ministers a proposal of organizational structure and definition of competencies for this Mission. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government Press Release 11 March 2014 

14 March 2014

Foreign law firms push into East Timor's legal practice market

ETLJB 14/03/2014 - According to a report in The Lawyer on 10 March 2014, a leading Portuguese law firm, Vieira de Almeida, is to open chambers in East Timor bringing foreign competition into the country's market for legal services. The launch is expected to occur at the end of this month.

Foreign law firms can only operate in East Timor in partnership with local lawyers but East Timorese lawyers have previously expressed protest at foreign lawyers operating in East Timor.

The Lawyer reports that the firm's stated targets are telecoms, infrastructure and oil work. Source: The Lawyer. Edited by Warren L. Wright

Breach in East Timor Defence Force (F-FDTL) Chain of Command Exposes Military Vulnerability, says Fundasaun Mahein

ETLJB Fundasaun Mahein - As FM reported in a previous blog post, ex-guerilla commander Mauk Moruk visited the attorney general’s office last week in hopes of establishing the Revolutionary Council of Maubere (RCM) as a legal organization.  His visit came just days after Parliament passed a resolution calling for his arrest.  Despite the resolution, Mauk Moruk was escorted through Dili by an F-FDTL security detail, and was taken to the attorney general’s office in an F-FDTL vehicle.

If the details surrounding this incident weren’t troubling enough, yesterday  (March 10) the Suara Timor Lorosae newspaper reported that F-FDTL Commander Lere Anan Timor had not been aware during the time that members of the F-FDTL were escorting Mauk Moruk.  Commander Timor stated that he was “unhappy …”.  If Commander Timur did not give or approve the order for these soldiers to escort Mauk Moruk, then who (if anyone) did?

According to FM’s understanding of military doctrine, the action taken by this group of F-FDTL soldiers represents a severe breach of military protocol and discipline.  The fact that certain army members decided to protect a suspect whom had been targeted by the government for arrest, without the knowledge or consent of the F-FDTL Commander, signals an alarming disregard for the chain of command.  Without an adherence to the chain of command, an army is little more than a glorified group of unorganized, un-unified, and unreliable militants.

It also seems odd that Commander Lere Anan Timor did not intervene immediately upon being informed that F-FDTL soldiers were escorting Mauk Moruk.  Although he has publicly expressed his unhappiness regarding the incident, it is unclear what penalties have been levied on the disloyal F-FDTL members in question, if any have been at all.

The questionable loyalty of Timor’s defense forces is especially worrisome given the escalating tensions between the Revolutionary Council of Maubere (RCM) and the government.  Mauk Moruk has recently made statements threatening to prevent government meetings in Timor-Leste with Portuguese speaking countries.  The government has every reason to take his threats very seriously.

Just yesterday morning, 10 March 2014, members of the RCM were allegedly responsible for launching a grenade attack in Baucau’s sub-district of Laga, as well as blockading a major road with a fallen tree.  The attack resulted in at least one injury, and traffic between Laga and baucau was severely affected as a result of the blockade.

This attack, and the openly hostile threats made by Mauk Moruk in recent weeks, classifies the RCM as toting the line somewhere between rebellion and terrorism.  The government has taken an obvious step in the right direction by not processing Mauk Moruk’s request to make the RCM a legally recognized organization.  The government must now do more to restore discipline and order to the ranks of the F-FDTL, to ensure that it will be able neutralize any possible future threat the RCM could pose to stability in Timor-Leste. Source: Fundasaun Mahein 11/03/2014 http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/03/11/breach-in-f-fdtl-chain-of-command-exposes-military-vulnerability/

See also Obedience and Discipline in the East Timor National Police and the East Timor Defence Force

13 March 2014

USGov: Timor-Leste Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013

ETLJB 13/03/2014 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - Timor-Leste is a multiparty parliamentary republic. Following free and fair elections in 2012, President Taur Matan Ruak is head of state, and Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao leads a three-party coalition government. National security forces reported to civilian authorities, but the authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses.

Principal human rights problems included police use of excessive force during arrest, abuse of authority, arbitrary arrest and detention, and an inefficient and understaffed judiciary system that deprived citizens of 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, violence against children including sexual assault, and trafficking in persons.

The government took steps to prosecute members and officials of the security services who used excessive force or inappropriately treated detainees, but 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 is no institutional body that examines all security force killings. The Professional Standards and Discipline Office (PSDO) of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) examines killings by members of the PNTL and may refer cases to the Office of the Prosecutor General for investigation. No corresponding oversight body exists within the Defense Force (F-FDTL). The Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice is responsible for examining general human rights abuses in the country.

There were no politically motivated killings by the government or its agents during the year; however, in June the Dili District Court sentenced a member of the PNTL to 16 years’ imprisonment on charges related to the 2012 killing of a young man, allegedly without provocation, while responding to election-related unrest in Hera, near the capital.

In 2012 the government indicted six F-FDTL soldiers on charges related to the 2010 beating death of a civilian in Laivai, Lautem, but the case has never been brought to trial.

Timor-Leste Strikes Troubling New Weapons Deal with Indonesia, says Fundasaun Mahein

ETLJB 13/03/2014 - A report published by the leading security sector monitoring non-government organisation in East Timor, Fundasaun Mahein says that East Timor has struck a troubling new weapons deal with its former occupier, Indonesia. The text of the report follows.

On Monday (February 10, 2014) Timorese Prime Minister and Defense Minister Xanana Gusmao met with Indonesian Defense Minister Poernomo Yusgiantoro to sign a defense memorandum of understanding meant to boost security and defense ties between the two nations.  One major provision of the agreement is Timor-Leste’s intention to purchase more weapons from the Indonesian state-owned defense corporation PT. Pindad.

This deal is just the latest in Timor-Leste’s increasing reliance on Indonesia for military equipment.  In 2012 Timor-Leste made a large-scale weapons purchase from PT. Pindad in a backroom deal that turned out poorly; the weapons produced by the Indonesian company were of poor quality and many malfunctioned after only limited use.  In the same year, the government also planned to purchase tanks and armored personnel carriers from the same company.  Once again the process lacked transparency and reports surfaced that the military vehicles were of poor quality.       

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) is troubled by Timor-Leste’s growing dependence on Indonesia for military supplies.  Allowing Indonesia to become Timor-Leste’s primary weapons supplier is a bad decision for a number of reasons.  The first reason is simply that the products produced by the PT. Pindad company are of very suspicious quality. Why would Timor-Leste continue to do business with a company that has already sold us malfunctioning and substandard military equipment?

It is also important to note that weapons produced by PT. Pindad have fallen into the hands of terrorist groups operating in Indonesia as well as in Mindanao, Phillipines. Whether or not these groups received these weapons because of the company’s negligence in screening its customers is unclear.  Regardless, the apparently vast availability of these weapons presents a security threat to Timor-Leste.  Ascertaining responsibility for violence will be more difficult if both Timorese security forces and criminal or terrorist factions are using the same weapons.

This security threat is heightened further when considering the dismal track record Timorese defense forces have displayed for controlling their own weapons.  Despite numerous cases of weapons abuse and weapons “misplacement” by security force members, Timor-Leste still has yet to implement a weapons control and auditing system to monitor the weapons it purchases.  Without such a safeguard, there is always the threat that weapons will be misused or fall into the wrong hands.

FM also questions the morality of buying weapons from a military that was very recently responsible for numerous acts of atrocity against the people of Timor-Leste.  Many of the same soldiers and leaders responsible for human rights abuses against the people of Timor during the Indonesian occupation are still in the Indonesian army, and continue to be promoted through the ranks with the full support of the Indonesian army.  A couple of the more high profile acts committed by Indonesian soldiers include the 1978 assassination of Timor’s beloved late President Nicolau Lobato, and the infamous Santa Cruz massacre in 1991. The perpetrators never received justice.  Furthermore, to this day the Indonesian Army refuses to return the bodily remains of Nicolau Lobato to his homeland to be buried where he belongs.

How can the Timorese government, in good faith, purchase weapons from an army responsible for decades of suppression and subjugation of its people?  Have our leaders already forgotten about the injustices committed against the Timorese people at the hands of the Indonesian army?  Of course Timor-Leste should put past conflicts behind it, but FM maintains that the future should be written in an honorable way, with respect and consideration for the recent history of this nation.

It is unthinkable that the perpetrators of human rights abuses against our nation should now make profits at the expense of the Timorese people.  Surely Timor-Leste can pursue far better options in its weapons procurement search than PT. Pindad.  FM urges the government and the Ministry of Defense to seek out another weapons supplier who can provide high-quality weapons and a true partnership with Timorese defense forces. Source: Fundasaun Mahein 17/02/2014

09 March 2014

355 Cases of HIV/AIDS in East Timor

ETLJB 09/03/2014 East Timor's National Commission for HIV/AIDS has reported that there are now 355 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS in the country. 

In response, the Deputy Prime Minister, Lasama Araujo, was reported by Suara Timor Lorosae on 28 January as saying that the Human Immune Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) the incidence of which is now as high as it has ever been in the country is not one family’s problem, but it is part of the country’s national issues. 

“I invite all parties to be pro-active as this is not just a personal or one family's problem, but it is a national issue for the entire country. Therefore all parties’ contribution is necessary,” Deputy Prime Minister Fernando “Lasama” Araujo said. 

Seven East Timor police officers to be dismissed from the force

The East Timor National Police command will dismiss 7 officers who have committed offences and have not discharged their duties base on the law and who have violated the general rules of the police force. Radio Timor-Leste reported on 28 January a statement by the Commander of the Police Justice Unit, Carlos Gerenimo, that the administrative process for these seven police officers had been completed and that they were currently waiting for a final decision from the commanders. 

“We have identified seven officers who will be dismissed from the Institution and we are now processing them,” he said. 

PNTL Commander, Longuinhos Monteiro, said he would not tolerate his police officers who engaged in illegal activities and said they must be sanctioned.

Meanwhile, Radio Timor Leste also reported on the same day that the
State Secretary for Security (SES), Francisco da Costa Guterres, said the Government would impose sanctions on any National Police (PNTL) officers who are suspected of being engaged in illegal activities in the country. 

Mr. Guterres called on communities to give information to SES if there were police officers engaging in illegal activities. He confirmed that the Government had received information from the communities on the involvement of police officers in illegal activities. 

“There is regulation to sanction them, if communities find the police officers involved in illegal activities, please let us know, so that they can be investigated,” he said.

Fundasaun Mahein (FM): Underage Drivers and Perilous Road Conditions in Dili

ETLJB 09/02/2014 -From Fundasaun Mahein 03/03/2014 : This past Sunday, the 23rd of February, an underage driver hit and killed a Timorese woman on the streets of Dili. This incident is just the latest reminder of the hazards that underage drivers present to road safety in Dili. The presence of underage youth operating motor vehicles in the capital city seems to be increasingly common occurrence. Many of these drivers lack training and experience, drive recklessly, and display a blatant disregard for other vehicles and the rules of the road (such as the proper use of directional blinkers). Furthermore, the convergence of youth migration to Dili coupled with an increase in the rate of underage drivers in the city is a troubling indication of things to come.

According to PNTL statistics, Dili recorded a total of 994 traffic accidents in 2013, accounting for 64% of the 1,534 total recorded traffic accidents in Timor-Leste. PNTL records also show that accidents in Dili resulted in 557 minor injuries (out of 1,228 nationwide), 95 serious injuries (out 328 nationwide), and 32 fatalities (out 73 nationwide). These figures establish Dili’s standing as the city with the most dangerous road conditions in Timor-Leste. 

Although there are currently no statistics available to support the claim that underage drivers are the main cause of hazardous roads in Dili, the high rate of youths in Dili indicates that there may be a correlation between young drivers and increased accident rates in the city.  If the problem of underage drivers is left unchecked, Dili’s alarming road conditions will only continue to get worse. FM implores the government and the PNTL to formulate policy in response to this problem, to ensure that driving age legislation is enforced effectively and comprehensively

Fundasaun Mahein (FM); Rule of Law or Rule of the Deal in Timor-Leste?

ETLJB 09/03/2014  - From Fudasaun Mahein 07/02/2014 - Timor-Leste’s Parliament passed a resolution (Nu.05/2014) this week targeting both ex-guerilla commander Mauk Moruk along with his organization “Revolutionary Council of Maubere” or Consellu Revolusionario Maubere (RCM) and the CPD-RDTL. The resolution’s passage came in response to reports that CPD-RDTL and RCM members were wearing military uniforms and conducting military exercises in the area of Laga, Baucau district. In defiance of the resolution, Mauk Moruk visited the attorney general’s office in Dili this week accompanied by a military escort. Mauk Moruk stated that the intended purpose of his visit was to register the Revolutionary Council of Maubere (RCM) as a legal organization.

The CPD-RDTL organization that the resolution targets has been active for over a decade. Until now, the government of Timor-Leste has chosen to turn a blind eye towards a range of illegal activities that the CPD-RDTL has conducted. The organization has stolen from countless innocent Timorese over the years in the form of illegal “taxes”, demanding payment in the form of money, rice, goats, and other goods.  Victims of the CPD-RDTL’s transgressions have waited years to receive justice for the wrongs committed against them.

Just days after finally deciding to take a long-overdue stance against the CPD-RDTL, how can the government now allow Mauk Moruk to freely roam the streets of the nation’s capital, let alone even consider his request to legalize the CPD-RDTL as a legitimate organization? 

The facts available indicate that this case is just the latest example of the “rule of the deal” triumphing over the rule of law and the pursuit of justice in Timor-Leste. Once again, our nation’s leaders have chosen to make a mockery of Timor-Leste’s justice system.  Furthermore, the presence of Timorese security forces guarding a man whom the government had denounced just days earlier, can be seen as a symbol of intimidation meant to prevent well-intentioned judicial actors from mobilizing.

Another troubling aspect of this situation stems from the government’s reliance on resolutions to attempt to compensate for the failed enforcement of existing legislation. These so-called “resolutions” have not been used by the government to respond to novel situations, but have instead been used to bolster governmental resolve to implement enforcement of laws that, by the very nature of their existence, should already be enforced.

The last resolution passed by Parliament outlawed the existence of Martial Arts Groups (MAGs) in Timor, and was enforced successfully. As with the CPD-RDTL, MAG’s had been established as criminal groups (responsible for all kinds of public disturbances and illegal activities) long before the government passed a resolution to ban them. Unlike the CPD-RDTL, however, MAG’s apparently did not have the bargaining power by which to strike a deal with government leaders.

Regardless of the different outcomes, the impact of the resolutions was apparent in both cases.  The resolution against MAG’s led to their extinction, while the resolution against Mauk Moruk and the CPD-RDTL brought him to the bargaining table. Unfortunately, in the latter case, the “bargaining table” has equated not with the administration of justice, but with a backroom deal between Mauk Moruk and the government made at the expense of the Timorese people.

If the rule of the deal transcends the rule of law in Timor-Leste, then what purpose do our nation’s laws serve?  What function does the very Constitution of Timor-Leste serve?  If our nation’s leaders do not even respect the laws that they themselves set forth, then they cannot expect Timor’s citizens to abide by them. It is time that the government of Timor-Leste holds itself to a higher standard. Policymakers need to back their words up with action when it comes to enforcing the legislation they pass, and must work to uphold justice and the rule of law over corruption and the rule of the deal. 

07 March 2014

Fundasaun Mahein: Scope and Severity of East Timor National Police Regulation Violations

ETLJB 07/03/2014 Fundasaun Mahein’s Voice report No.70 discusses regulations violations committed by the PNTL during field operations. These infractions have become a cause for concern for community members who question the PNTL’s professionalism and capacity to fulfill its role of upholding the law and maintaining order.

The objective of this report is to analyze PNTL violations in relation to the laws and regulations of the PNTL. Such analysis is necessary to understanding the ways in which PNTL officers can better conduct their activities, when it is appropriate for them to use force, the amount of force they should use, and the level of accountability officers should be held to for their actions.

According to FM’s monitoring, many PNTL activities are not conducted in accordance with the PNTL’s “Standard Operational Procedure”, especially in regards to policies highlighting the use of force. There are strong indications that PNTL members have broken laws in numerous instances.  

East Timor police assault a citizen
To highlight a few examples, a young man was shot to death in Balibo by a PNTL officer in 2014, a PNTL Task Force member physically assaulted a deputy of the National Parliament in Audian-Dili in 2013, and in 2012 a PNTL member from Becora shot and killed a young man to death in Hera. (emphasis added by ETLJB)

These three cases in particular have raised legitimate concerns from the public regarding the professionalism and competence of the PNTL. These cases are major blows to the public’s perception and trust in the PNTL as a law enforcement organization. Another consequence is that some PNTL members have become criminal suspects as a result of their actions, which violated PNTL laws and regulations.

In response to this issue, FM recommends that the Secretary of State for Security (SES) and the General Command of the PNTL re-assess the training regimen for PNTL officers. Training should be intensified and should include an increased focus on upholding the law and human rights, as well as a clear understanding of when and how the use of force is permitted, especially by the Special Police Unit (SPU) and Task Force. Source: Fundasaun Mahein Press Release 21/02/2104 Images added by ETLJB

See also 
Seven East Timor police officers to be dismissed from the force

Meeting of the East Timor Council of Ministers 18 February 2014

ETLJB 07/03/2014 - The Government met on Tuesday 18 February 2014 at the Council of Ministers meeting room in the Government Palace, in Dili, and approved:

1. Government Resolution approving the establishment of the Preparatory Committee for the CPLP Summit

As we approach the Summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), which will be held in Dili in July, opening the first biennial Presidency (2014-2016) of Timor-Leste in this international organization, the Government decided to establish a Preparatory Committee for the CPLP summit, which will be chaired by Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo.

This Committee has the main mission of proposing and organizing the issues to develop during the July meeting, reflecting what should happen over the next two years. It is intended firstly, to clearly understand the effectiveness and outcomes of the programs implemented to date in each beneficiary country in the context of bilateral or multilateral cooperation, and, secondly, programmatically direct the eight member countries for a common purpose, namely to the economic sector, which aims to minimize the socio-political-economic differences between the CPLP member countries.

Due to the late approval of the State Budget for 2014, the Committee will have, in practice, four months to plan and prepare or the summit, which should take place on 20 to 25th July this year.

2. Draft Law on the Organization of Criminal Investigation

This law establishes the rules of organization and competence for criminal investigation of various criminal police bodies acting in the administration of justice, having as main objectives to ensure the functional stability of the criminal investigation, to clarify, streamline and operationalize the organization of criminal investigation, to delimit the scope of the technical and tactical autonomy of the police and divide the responsibilities among the various criminal police bodies, and create a mechanism for strategic and operational coordination of the criminal investigation, in their different hierarchical levels.

3. Decree-Law that approves the Organic Structure of Forensic Criminal Investigation Police

This Decree-Law provides for the establishment of a Forensic Criminal Investigation Police as an upper body independent of the police, depending organically on the Ministry of Justice and functionally on the Office of the Prosecutor General, that monitors this Police, that has technical and tactical autonomy in carrying out criminal investigations, assisting the judicial authorities.

The creation of the Forensic Criminal Investigation Police will enable faster and more effective functioning of the criminal investigation, resulting in better administration and implementation of justice and consequently giving the people a greater sense of trust. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government Dili, February 18, 2014 Press Release Edited by Warren L. Wright

International Court of Justice orders Australia to seal seized document and cease spying on Timor

Map showing location of the Timor Sea. Image: Wikipedia
ETLJB 07/03/2014 -  Australia has been ordered by the International Court of Justice not to access the documents dramatically seized during ASIO raids on the Canberra offices of lawyers representing East Timor in a dispute over a dispute regarding a oil and gas treaty worth $40 billion in government revenues.

The Timor Sea Justice Campaign’s spokesperson, Tom Clarke, said the Court had made a binding legal order for Australia not to use national security as an alibi for commercial espionage.

“This is a bit of a wake up call for Australia because the highest authority in the world has warned that you cant just deploy James Bond in order to short-change your neighbours in your commercial dealings,” said Mr Clarke.

The order regarding this injunction-like request regarding the documents, is a provisional order - the court may yet order the documents to be returned - but contained a number of elements that would be ppleasing to East Timor ahead of the legal proceedings regarding the legality of the raids.

Mr Clarke says seeing Australia participating in a ICJ case highlighted Australia’s refusal to accept the same independent umpire’s decision on the much more important issue of the positioning of permanent maritime boundaries.

“Australia was willing to send an elite legal team to defend itself in what is essentially a squabble about whether envelopes should be sealed, yet when it comes to the problem at the core of this entire episode – the absence of permanent maritime boundaries between Australia and East Timor ? Australia will not even consider showing up in a court,” said Mr Clarke.

Just months before East Timor became independent in 2002, Australia withdrew its recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
If permanent maritime boundaries were established in accordance with current international law, East Timor’s probable exclusive economic zone would likely encompass all of the Greater Sunrise field as well as all of the joint development area that Timor currently shares with Australia.

Mr Clarke said Australia should move on from the temporary resource sharing arrangements that are currently short-changing East Timor and instead establish permanent maritime boundaries with our tiny neighbour.

“Our PM Tony Abbott should enter into fresh negotiations in good faith with East Timor to establish permanent maritime boundaries half way between the two coastlines. That’s a simple and fair solution and it is also what international law prescribes in such situations,” said Mr Clarke.

For further information or comments, contact: TSJC Spokesperson, Tom Clarke, on 0422 545 763.

 A fair go for East Timor.

The TSJC is comprised of concerned Australians of various ages, backgrounds and political persuasions who all want our Government to give East Timor a fair go. Specifically, we're calling for the establishment of permanent maritime boundaries in accordance with current international law. Source: Timor Sea Justice Campaign Media Release 04/03/2014. Image added by ETLJB