30 June 2014

Six cases of domestic violence offences heard in Oecusse District Court Hearings in March 2014: Sentences inadequates, says JSMP

ETLJB 30 June 2014 - The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on the summary of the trial process at the Oecusse District Court. The text of the report follows.

Case Summary Oe-cusse District Court March 2014 Summary of the trial process at the Oe-cusse District Court during the fourth week of March 2014


During the fourth week of March 2014 JSMP continued its monitoring activities at the Oe-cusse District Court. During the fourth week of March JSMP observed 6 cases involving simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence. 3 of these cases have been decided by the court and the other 3 cases are still ongoing.

JSMP is concerned because the sentences handed down by the Oe-cusse District Court against the defendants were less than effective because the court tended to issue fines against the convicted persons. JSMP believes that in cases of domestic violence a fine is not an appropriate penalty because it will place an even greater financial burden on the family. Therefore, JSMP recommends for the court to prioritize compensation to the victim as restitution for physical injury and emotional suffering as well as loss of income resulting from violence committed by a defendant.

The information below outlines the hearings conducted:

1.   Crime of simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence – Case No. 33/crime/2014/TDO

Baucau District Court applies a suspended sentence that does not reflect Article 68 of the Penal Code

ETLJB 30/06/2014 From JSMP 06 February 2014 - On 29 January 2014 the Baucau District Court conducted a hearing to examine evidence and proceeded to announce its decision against the defendant AJM who committed the crime of a simple offence against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence against her husband EM.

The public prosecutor alleged that on 11 January 2013 the defendant argued with the victim about their children, due to the fact the victim intended to take the children to Quelekai. Without justification the defendant then took a piece of wood and hit the victim on the left side of his back and  leg causing injury to the victim’s  back and swelling to his leg.

In court the defendant admitted that all of the facts alleged by the public prosecutor were true, expressed regret for her actions and testified that she has been trying to reconcile with the victim, however the victim has refused, so they are living separately.

In his final statement the public prosecutor requested for the court to sentence the defendant to 3 months jail, to be suspended for 6 months, because the defendant admitted all of the facts, regretted her actions and tried to reconcile with the victim, however the victim refused.

The public defender requested for the court to hand down a fair punishment because the defendant had cooperated with the court. After hearing the sentencing recommendations of the prosecutor and public defender the court decided the matter and sentenced the defendant to 4 months in prison, suspended for 6 months.

“JSMP has observed that the public prosecutors and the courts are often inconsistent in their application of Article 68 of the Penal Code, because they have been applying suspended sentences that do not reflect the minimum and maximum sentences set out in the law”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

Article 68.1 of the Penal Code states that the court may suspend execution of a prison sentence that does not exceed 3 years for a period between 1 and 5 years, to be counted from the time the final decision was rendered. JSMP hopes that each court will consistently apply the provisions set out in the Penal Code and the applicable procedures to avoid inconsistencies in practice.

This case was registered with the court as Case No. 237/Crm.S/2013/TDB. The hearing was presided over by single judge Antonio Fonseca Monteiro. The Public Prosecution Service was represented by Aderito Tilman, and the defendant was represented by public defender Gregorio de Lima. Source: JSMP Press Release 04 February 2014 

34th Commemoration of the Marabia Incident (10 June 1980 – 2014) and International Widows Day (23 June 2014)

ETLJB 30/06/2014 A-N-T-I ALIANSA NASIONÃ L TIMOR-LESTE BA TRIBUNA L INTERNASIONAL Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal Aliansi Nasional Timor-Leste Untuk Pengadilan Internasional - "The Indonesian Military took my brother to school… and perhaps it was his intelligence that allowed him to return to Timor, so he could serve and contribute to the development process in Timor. But perhaps it was actually the opposite… and they killed them all… so show us his bones so we can bury him together with his other friends, our heroes."(Amelia Brigada Sarmento, younger sister of Mario Gusmao Freitas, code-name MAU-SEITUI).

The Marabia Massacre, which took place on 10 June 1980, was committed by the military unit known as Komando Pasukan Sandhi Yudha (Kopassandha/Kopassus – Special Forces), and led to the death or enforced disappearance of 121 people. Of those 121 who were killed or disappeared, the whereabouts of some 83 victims remains unknown to their families. Moreover, there has yet to be one member of Kopassus brought to account for this crime and other crimes against humanity. Worse still, it is a very real possibility that a former member of Kopassus, Prabowo Subianto, may become President of Indonesia, while, at the same time, survivors along with the widows and orphans are left to mourn for their lost relatives and to live in abjectly miserable conditions.

Although there is no clear information as to Prabowo's involvement in the Marabia massacre specifically, at that time it is well known that he was a member of Kopassus and had demonstrated clear potential which won him the confidence of his superiors. This much was evidenced by the fact he was promoted to attend a number of events in America and Indonesia which sought to increase his knowledge, thus enabling him to move through the ranks. This saw him, within two years of the Marabia Massacre, command the Kopassus unit which committed one of the largest massacres of the occupation, in Kraras (Viqueque) in 1983. According to the testimony of some witnesses, following the Kraras massacre of August 1983, Kopassus continued the search for frightened citizens hidden in the Le-Oli/Viqueque area. Some witnesses recounted that Prabowo and his elements arrested them, along with a number of civilians, on 10 September 1983. In excess of one hundred men and boys were then executed at Tahu-Been (the river near Kraras) following their arrest.

This year, the families and community, together with representatives of the State institutions, gathered together to commemorated the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Marabia massacre. Also present were the representatives of Government who are planning to build a monument there. The commemoration began with a mass according to the Catholic tradition, led by the Bishop of the Diocese of Dili. After the mass, families scattered flowers and lit candles in memory of their heroes. There was also space for the families and community to listen to messages from the State representatives.

On the other hand, some families, whose brothers, husbands or fathers have disappeared, are yet to have the courage to scatter flowers and light candles because they have yet to know for certain whether their family members have died or whether they may still be alive. For these families, the State's plan to build a monument alone is not enough. They insist that the Government of Timor-Leste must collaborate with the Indonesian Government to identify the whereabouts of their missing family members.

On this issue, ANTI approached the relevant State Institutions regarding the outcome of the recent Senior Official Meeting (SOM) between Timor-Leste and Indonesia that took place in Bali in April 20014 and should have addressed the issue of missing persons. ANTI was very disappointed and saddened to learn that the two Governments have chosen to prioritise the establishment of Cultural Centres over the ongoing issue of disappeared persons and separated children.

Therefore, ANTI urges that:

1.  The State of Timor-Leste and Indonesia continue their collaboration to establish the Commission to "Search for Missing Persons" according to the recommendation of the CTF.

2.  The United Nations, particularly the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, keep the issue of grave crimes in Timor-Leste on their agenda and prioritise the search for those enforceably disappeared and justice for those who have died.

3.  Activist and international solidarity friends to continue the fight for a formal process for those perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste so that we might end impunity, establish the truth, and deliver justice for the survivors.

ANTI believes that, without the involvement of the international community, it will be a huge challenge for all of us to finally resolve the ongoing issue of crimes against humanity perpetrated in Timor-Leste during the Indonesian military occupation.
Justice for Timor-Leste and Justice for the World.

Dili, 23 June 2014 Sisto dos Santos, ANTI Coordinator Note: Tetum and Indonesian versions follow.

Rough translation of the new draft Timor-Leste Media Law by Lao Hamutuk

ETLJB 30/06/2014 - V CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT OF RDTL PROPOSED LAW No. / 2013 Of_______of ______________Media Law

Whereas the right to information, freedom of speech and of the press are fundamental for the consolidation of democracy, the Timorese State prepares to strengthen the media sector.

In this context, the present law, the first of free and independent Timor-Leste, on the defense of press freedom and regulation of the media, defends the right of the citizen to full exercise of freedom of thought and expression and allows the information professional the guarantee of professional secrecy and safeguards their independence.

It is therefore important to delineate by law to regulate the exercise of such freedoms, ensuring their implementation.

The provision of rules on the exercise of the right to information and freedom of expression and the press becomes vital, not only to comply with the relevant constitutional requirements laid down in Articles 40 and 41 of the Constitution, but also, ultimately to ensure the construction of a democratic state under rule of law.

This Act aims to ensure freedom of the press, promoting the necessary balance between the exercise of this fundamental freedom and other constitutionally protected rights and values.

The eight chapters of this law seek to regulate the exercise of journalistic activity on national territory for journalists and media.

Fundamentally, it is intended that properly prepared and ethically responsible professionals can inform the public in an objective and impartial manner, stimulating the exercise of active and informed citizenship by the population.

It is intended by this law to create mechanisms to regulate and resolve conflicts arising from the relationship of the media with citizens and society.

An independent administrative entity, to be created by Decree-Law under the name of Press Council ensures compliance with this Act, including the observation of the rights and duties of journalists, as well as compliance with ethical principles of journalistic activity.

Finally, are certain sanctions against any acts that undermine the right to information.

Thus, The Government presents to the National Parliament, under Article 97.1(c) and Article 115.2(a) of the Constitution of the Republic, as an urgent priority request - the following bill:

Timor-Leste has been robbed!

ETLJB 30/06/2014 From Lao Hamutuk 23 June 2014 - La'o Hamutuk has warned for years that Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth, when viewed through the cracks in our  management systems and limited levels of experience and capacity, makes us a tempting target, Criminals from all over the world are enticed by the billion dollars Timor-Leste spends each year, and drool over our $16 billion Petroleum Fund. Our fears have now been confirmed.

FBI officials in the USA arrested Nigerian-born U.S. citizen Bobby Boye last Thursday, charging him with seven crimes involving the theft of more than $3.5 million from Timor-Leste's people. Read the full article on Lao Hamutuk. Source: http://laohamutuk.blogspot.com/2014/06/timor-leste-has-been-robbed.html

27 June 2014

Portugal invaded Timor-Leste because of sandalwood, says PM Gusmao

ETLJB 27/06/2014 (translation from original Tetum report) - Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao said that the Portuguese invaded Timor-Leste because of Timor-Leste's sandalwood riches.

According to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, 500 years ago the Portuguese arrived in Timor-Leste with the objective of finding riches.

The head of government added that Europeans, especially the English, Portuguese, Dutch and French invaded other countries around the world with different objectives.

The Prime Minister explained that the objectives of the colonialists were to suck up the wealth of the colonies, secondly to spread religion, thirdly to rule and influence Timorese Regents in historic times.

"We have come here together not just for the economic zone, but to see that the preparations for the economic zone can also be part of the 2015 commemoration events, the 500 years since white man arrived here because of our sandalwood," said the Prime Minister during a cultural ceremony to install a sacred rock at the Lifau Monument, last Monday, 21 April 2014.

Xanana said that sandalwood was Timor-Leste's greatest wealth, and one which provoked the colonial powers to invade.

Xanana also declared that, Mari Alkatiri is from the historic FRETILIN party, and he is from the CNRT party, but when it comes to speaking about to the world about Timor-Leste's development, which will begin from Oecussi, both Xanana and Alkatiri are at one in their thinking, because Timor-Leste is one people and one nation only. Source: Jornal Independente 22 April 2014 Edited by ETLJB Image credit: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks05/0501051h.html

See also Sandalwood and Environmental Law in East Timor

Timor-Leste’s mobile courts promote access to justice

ETLJB 27/06/2014 DILI, 20 May 2014 (IRIN) - Taking judicial proceedings to rural areas of Timor-Leste with “mobile courts” is increasing citizens’ access to justice as the young country builds its government from the ground up, experts and practitioners say.

“Before mobile courts, Timor-Leste was dealing with a very formal and new system of law, and a population that had only a small taste of how that system worked, and even less access to it,” Pedro Raposo de Figueiredo, a judge in a mobile court unit based in Suai, a town on the southern coast of Timor Leste, told IRIN.

The Justice System Monitoring Project (JSMP), a Dili-based NGO, notes: “Timor-Leste only has four district courts to handle cases from the country’s 13 districts, which means many people must travel considerable distances to access the courts, which is often difficult and expensive.”

According to the Japan-based Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Centre, Timorese mobile courts are “a way of showing the community that the court is functioning, addressing transport and infrastructure problems; and educating the community about judicial procedures”.

First introduced in 2008, mobile courts are currently operational in four districts - Ainaro, Manufahi, Bobonaro, and Cova Lima - with plans to scale the programme in Dili District and others pending funding in coming years.

But, experts say, addressing physical access issues is just the beginning.

Timor-Leste police and military involved in beatings, punchings and making threats, says NGO Belun

ETLJB 27/06/2014  -  According to the East Timor NGO Belun Early Attention and Response Program, 17 members of the national police force PNTL and of the national defence forces F-FDTL have been involved in crimes.

The finding was published in The Dili Weekly on 25 June 2014. According to the report, the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, has urged the commanders of both the police and the defence forces to resolve community concerns in the community about police and soliders' involvement in crimes.

The Director of Belun, Luis Ximenes, is reported to have said that the 17 officers were identified over the period January to April 2014 includes 10 members of the police and 7 from the defence force.

"These elements were involved in physical violent crime, such as beatings, punching and threats to others,” said Director Ximenes, adding that the crimes took place mainly in the capital Dili wth complaints coming from the community in Dili in larger numbers.”

The reports and complaints were compiled and submitted to the Secretariat of State for Security and to the Secretariat of State for Defence.

The President himself, who is also so the Supreme Commander of the defence forces and the police acknowledged the problem of police and military perpetrating crimes.

"The president will register theses cases and will ask the command of the police and the military to seek more information and find solutions to these challenges. Source: The Dili Weekly http://www.thediliweekly.com/en/news/capital/12548-pntl-and-f-fdtl-elements-in-trouble-with-the-law 25 June 2014 10:31 Original article written by Venidora Oliveira. This version Edited by Warren Wright

26 June 2014

Fundasaun Mahein: Cement Factory in Caisido, Baucau District: Opportunity or Threat?

ETLJB 26/06/2014 - This Mahein’s Voice No 79 analyses the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), and the Fifth (V) Constitutional Government's Plan is to transform Timor-Leste’s economy from “low income” to “High average” income. As mentioned in the view of NSDP that Timor-Leste by 2030 will have a modern diverse economy and will move away from subsistence agriculture by re-investing in commercial products from natural resource production.

The government has had a meeting with the council minister to approve a cement factory which will be located in Caisido area, Trilolo village of Baucau district. The investor will be coming from Perth, Australia, his companies: BGC and Swan Energy. According to their plan this project will be implemented on January 2015 with the purpose of this industry is to diversify the economy of Timor-Leste based on the views of the National Development Strategic Plan 2011-2030.

According to Fundasaun Mahein this cement factory is in line with national development and will help resolve some unemployment issues. On the other side of the issue though, that needs attention from the government, is to find an adequate solution to any conflict that may arise from the tension that the building of the cement factory has created.

In the beginning of the consultation process, the government and company did not explain in full detail the state’s policy over land, the environment and the impact of the cement factory to the affected communities. The government explanation was that the factory is to not only to produce cement for a long period but will provide job creation as well and will allow  thousands of people to be employed at the periphery. This explanation has created confusion over jobs, as it is not clear who is eligible for these positions? Whether it be the communities or technicians of the Company?

Fundasaun Mahein’s observations have identified that there is a strong possibility for land disputes in Caisido area. This could arise if landowners disagree with the construction of the cement factory, these have the potential to arise because of cultural issues and poorly defined land ownership rights


1.    FM recommends to the Ministry of Petroleum and Oil Resource with its Inter-Ministerial Team to conduct clear socialization efforts with the communities before building the cement factory in Caisido area.

2.    FM recommends to Districts Conjoint Team and the Company to explain clearly to the communities over the environmental impact of the cement factory so the communities will have better information about the risks they face.

3.    FM recommends to the government and the company to have a legal contract deal with the communities in order to ensure the communities’ life in the future.

Source: www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/06/09/fabrika-semente-iha-caisido-distritu-baucau-oportunidade-no-ameasa/ 10/06/2014

New law does not bode well for free media in Timor-Leste (UCAN)

ETLJB 26/06/2014 UCANEWS.Com - Proposed media law could take independence away from press Rowena McNaughton, Dili Timor Leste June 25, 2014

October 2013. Inside a gaudy conference hall at the Timor-Leste Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hundreds of Timorese journalists sit silently, pens and recorders poised, clinging to every word that spills out of the booming-voiced man who stands before them.

The setting is the country’s first ever national journalism conference. The speaker: Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, the enigmatic prime minister of Asia’s youngest nation.

During the course of his address, Gusmao tells the audience that he wants Timor-Leste to have a strong, responsible media. But then, with a trademark smile, he abruptly rounds off his speech by admitting that he neither reads, listens to, nor watches media in Timor-Leste.

Moments later he is gone. A door is left swinging as his minders follow him out.

The very presence of the prime minister at this event suggested to many that the government was taking a positive interest in the country’s media. But a very different reality has come to light in recent months.

Martial Arts Violence in Timor Leste - Belun Research

ETLJB 26/06/2014 From Belun (http://belun.tl/) - Dynamics of martial arts related violence and conflict in Timor-Leste

On one hand, trails of martial arts graffiti around Timor-Leste remain a visible reminder of how some members of  now outlawed martial arts organisations have engaged gang-like conflict and violence. On the other hand, a number of martial arts organisations have steered clear of street violence and are well-regarded as disciplined and peaceful sporting organisations, including popular groups Tae Kwan Do, Karate and Kempo.

NGO Belun's research report Dynamics of Martial Arts related Violence and Conflict in Timor-Leste examines the dynamics of martial arts violence, and finds that a ban on Martial Arts organisations will not be effective as a 'stand-alone' solution to end the problem.

Martial arts related incidents, along with youth-violence more generally, stem from deep-set structural tensions relating to unequal access to public goods and services (such as education and security); intense competition and unequal distribution and access to resources and opportunities (such as land and employment); as well as the jealousies that are borne out of these conditions.

Through this report Belun urges government, civil society, martial arts organisations, community leaders and donors to work together towards a more holistic and constructive approach to more effectively target the root causes of martial arts and youth violence.

Read the Policy Brief and full Research Report here:

Versaun Tetun:
http://belun.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=28f7ca838aa874deb73e18b95&id=047ecd4646&e=0c9ba521b9 .

Disclaimer: This document has been produced as part of the Democracy and Development in Action through the Media and Empowerment program (DAME), with the financial assistance of the European Union (EU), through the National Authorising Office (NAO), in partnership with Search for Common Ground (SFCG). The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Belun, and do not reflect the position of the EU, NAO or SFCG. Source: Belun 26/06/2014

See also The Regulation of Martial Arts in East Timor: An Overview of Law No 10 of 2008 on the practice of martial arts

25 June 2014

Timor-Leste's Prosecutor General proposes criminalisation of incest to Ministry of Justice

ETLJB 25/06/2014 -ETLJB has been compiling reports on cases of incest in East Timor for several years. Below are some of those reports. Now, a news article has again raised the issue of incest. According to an English translation of an article published in Tetum in The Dili Weekly yesterday (24 June 2014), Timor-Leste's Prosecutor-General, Jose Ximenes said that last year the prosecutor general's office submitted a proposed amendment to the criminal code to the Ministry of Justice especially to add an article to criminalise incest because neither the criminal code nor the anti domestic violence law does so.

He added that the problem of incest was a very grave problem that needed serious a attention because it affected the credibility and dignity of the nation, one that has a Catholic religious majority.

He said that the the criminal code does contain and article criminalising sexual assault but if it is with consent then it is not a crime so the issue of incest needs a solution by amending the criminal code.

"I have a mandate as the prosecutor general to discuss with legal bodies regarding the need to amend the criminal code to add an article criminalising incest where consent is not an element making it a crime whether there is consent or not involved," said Prosecutor General Ximenes when he participated in a ceremony to launch the annual report of the the organisation for legal aid for children and women (ALFELA) at Vila verde in Dili.

He added that the Prosecutor General of the Republic did not have the power to initiate legislation and only the National Parliament and the government can initiate this legislation, but added that he has still not obtained a response on the submission made to the ministry of justice.

"We also ask the members of the national parliament to pay attention to this a issue," he asked. Source: The Dili Weekly. 

See aslo
Dili District Court hands down a sentence of 20 years imprisonment in a case of incest “Girls live in danger and are unsafe in their own homes”
Child Sex Offender Sentenced to 15 Years Imprisonment
Incestuous pedophile father sentenced to 9.5 yrs jail
The Social Problem of Incest in Timor-Leste Latest Report records 49 minors victims of incest
Incest in East Timor - Justice Group says many parents in state of moral degradation
Incest in East Timor 

23 June 2014

Meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers of 6 May 2014

ETLJB 23/06/2014 Meeting of the Council of Ministers of May 6th, 2014 - The V Constitutional Government gathered on Tuesday, the 6th May 2014, at the Council of Ministers meeting room, at the Government Palace, in Dili, and approved:

1. Decree-Law that approves the Political Basis for Tourism

The Decree-Law that establishes the Political Basis for Tourism, presented by the Ministry of Tourism, defines the objectives and principles that are underlying and identifies the instruments destined for its execution, as a strategic sector for the national economy.

Since Tourism has a fundamental role in the economic and social development of the country, this diploma applies to tourism activities, public sector activities directed at tourism, to tourism product suppliers and promotion services, to the tourists themselves and consumers of tourism products and services.

The Council of Ministers also analysed:

1. Timor-Leste and Beijing Platform for the revision of the National Action Evaluation Report

The Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, Idelta Maria Rodrigues, presented, to the Council of Ministers, a Country Report on Gender. This report is part of the consultation for the Timor-Leste and Beijing Platform for the revision of the National Action Evaluation Report and presents, especially, the major objectives achieved and the major challenges.

2. Presentation of the Support Cabinet to the Presidency of CPLP

The Minister for Foreign Affairs presented the Council of Ministers with an agenda proposal for the CPLP Summit, focussing also on the organization of issues such as security and defense, logistics, protocol, media and cultural events.

3. Law Proposal which creates the Contributory Regime of Social Security, under the Progressive Organization of a Social Security System.

This Law Proposal, presented by the Ministry of Social Security, intends to create, as is defined in the Constitution of the Republic of Timor-Leste and within the scope of the progressive organization of a social security system, the social security contributory regime, whose objective is to protect workers and their families in regards to maternity, paternity and adoption, invalidity, old age and death. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government 6 May 2014 Press Release http://timor-leste.gov.tl/?p=10025&lang=en

See also  Meeting of the TImor-Leste Council of Ministers 29 April 2014

Meeting of the TImor-Leste Council of Ministers 29 April 2014

ETLJB 23/06/2014 Meeting of the Council of Ministers of April 29th, 2014 - The Government gathered onTuesday, April 29th, 2014, at the Council of Ministers meeting room, at the Government Palace, in Dili, and approved:

1. Draft Law on the Statute of the Region of Oe-cusse Ambeno and Atauro

The draft law approved by the Council of Ministers determines the principles of Oe-cusse Ambeno Special Administrative Region, where the pilot project of the Special Zone of Social Market Economy (ZEESM) will be implemented. The creation of the Oe-cusse Ambeno Special Administrative Region wants it to be a local administrative region, which enjoys administrative financial and patrimonial autonomy, whose aim is the inclusive development of the region giving priority to activities of socio-economic nature and with return to the community.

According to the Draft Law, the island of Ataúro acquires the status of a complementary pole to the Oe-cusse Ambeno Special Administrative Region, in the tourism area.

The ZEESM is crucial to achieving the objectives of regional development, creating national strategic areas attractive for domestic and foreign investors. The aim is to remove the enclave status from Oe-cusse Ambeno and give it the status of national, sub-regional and regional development pole, getting Atauro under this pole, targeted for integrated tourism. See also Government of Timor-Leste approves creation of Oecussi Special Administrative Region

2. Draft Decree Law on the Licensing, Operation and Control Process of the Activities of Social and Traditional Entertainment Games

This diploma establishes the standards and conditions that must be satisfied in the process of licensing, operation and control of the activities of social and entertainment games, gaming machines and traditional games.

All the matters on games should be considered as public interest given their potential and social, administrative and tax implications so the regulation of this matter looks into reformulating and introduce a more adequate system of monitoring of the activity of games, cautioning the dealers that intend to invest and ensuring the rights and obligations of their clients.

3. Decree-Law on the Statute of the Special Career Regime of Auditors of the Chamber of Auditors of the Superior Administrative, Tax and Audit Court

The Council of Ministers approved Decree-Law on the Statute of the Special Career Regime of Auditors of the Chamber of Auditors of the Superior Administrative, Tax and Audit Court, presented by the Ministry of Justice.

The special auditors' career, which does not exist in the general framework of the civil service, is justified by the need of the superior audit institution of the state accounts to have a framework of specially trained support staff that allows them to effectively perform their duties.

The approval of this law thus gives effect to Article 24 of Law 9/2011 of 17 August, which approves the structure of this institution, and that gives the government the power to regulate by decree-law the statute of technical support personnel.

4. Government Resolution approving the Agreement for the Establishment of the Regional Secretariat of the Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security

The Government Resolution that was approved today by the Council of Ministers plans to establish a Regional Secretariat for the Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, to provide greater efficiency in the process of coordinating the implementation of this initiative at the regional level.

5. Decree of the Government approving the Organic Unit of the Mission for the Integrated Sub-Regional Economic Development

The Government Resolution No 20/2013 of 11 September recognized the importance of establishing an ad hoc Mission Unit, under the direction and direct supervision of the Prime Minister, with the aim of implementing a platform of Integrated Sub- Regional Economic Development between Timor-Leste, eastern Indonesia and northern Australia.

The approval of this Government Decree establishing the ad hoc Mission Unit for Integrated Sub-Regional Economic Development, establish its organizational structure and defines its powers.

The Council of Ministers also analysed:

1. The Report of the II Mission of Support to the Electoral Process in Guinea-Bissau

The Secretary of State for Administrative Decentralization, Tomás Cabral, who is also the Head of the Mission of Support to the Electoral Process in Guinea-Bissau, presented at the Meeting of the Council of Ministers the report of the Mission II, which took place between February 1st nd April 17. The Head of Mission presented a review of the pre-election voter education activities carried out by the electoral training team, and by the information technology, legal and logistics services; of activities on election day such as early voting and the vote of the diaspora; and activities of the post-election period. These last include the Observation Missions, including the Electoral Observation Mission of Timor-Leste, and on which the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Maria Teresinha Viegas, also spoke to the Council of Ministers.

2. Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries submitted to the Council of Ministers the "Zero Hunger Challenge - ZHC" initiative which contained details of the national status on food security and nutrition, as well as the process of formation of the National Action Plan for this area.

3. Decree Law establishes the basis of a Tourism Policy

The Council of Ministers has considered the Decree-Law that establishes the basis of a Tourism Policy, presented by the Ministry of Tourism, that lays the foundations of tourism policies, sets objectives and principles underlying it and identifies instruments for its implementation as a strategic sector of the national economy, referring to an upcoming meeting for its approval. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government Dili, April 29, 2014 Press Release http://timor-leste.gov.tl/?p=10011&lang=en

Government of Timor-Leste approves creation of Oecussi Special Administrative Region

Oecusse Map. Image: Wikimedia.org
ETLJB 23/06/2014 (From Macauhub 02 May 2014) - The government of Timor-Leste (East Timor) has approved a proposed law to set up the Oecussi Special administrative Region, where the project for the Social Market Economy Special Zone, the government announced recently.

In the proposed law, which was approved by a council of Ministers meeting, the government notes that creating the region will allow Oecussi – an enclave on the Indonesia side of  Timor Island – to have “administrative, financial and asset management, autonomy.”

The proposed law includes the island of Atauro, off the coast of Dili, as a complementary hub of the Oecussi Special Administrative Region, for the tourism sector.

The Social Market Economy Special Zone, a project that is headed up by a former Prime Minister of Timor-Leste Mari Alkatiri, is focused on integrated regional development through creation of strategic national areas that are “attractive for national and foreign investors.”

“The aim is to remove the status of enclave from Oecussi and give it the status of national, sub-regional and regional development hub, and Ataúro as part of this hub, will be focused on integrated tourism,” the government said. Source: (macauhub/TL)

Meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers 17 June 2014

ETLJB 23/06/2014 - The 5th Constitutional Government gathered this Tuesday, June 17th, 2014, in the Council of Ministers’ meeting room, at the Government’s Palace, in Dili, and approved:

1. Introduction of the Fiscal Package for 2015

The Council of Ministers approved the Fiscal Envelope that shall guide the preparation of the General State Budget (GSB) for the financial year of 2015.

Several factors were taken into account when drafting the Fiscal Package for the upcoming year, including the Strategic Development Plan (SDP), the Government Programme; Budget Execution; inflation; and Fiscal Sustainability.

The Council of Ministers has already approved the dates (29 and 30 June) for the meeting, where priorities for the State Budget 2015 will be set. The development of the GSB for 2015 will follow the intent of the V Constitutional Government inscribed in the SDP, of developing human resources, developing infrastructure, strengthening institutions and achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the New Deal.

2. Government Resolution approving the Framework for Preschool Education Policies

The Government approved the Policy Framework for Preschool Education in Timor-Leste. This document consists of a set of principles and guidelines for the development of preschool education, set in the context of the broader educational system, emerging in Timor-Leste.

3. Decree-law establishing the National Curriculum Base for the First and Second Cycles of Basic Education

According to the parameters defined in the National Education Strategic Plan 2011-2030, the Government, through this legislation, adopted a national core curriculum that includes general guidelines on curricular components and a detailed, clearly organized curriculum, identifying the expected learning outcomes, performance indicators, as well as a set of teaching plans, essential to implement the contents of the curriculum components.

4. Decree-law establishing the National Base Curriculum for Preschool Education

Pre-school education is particularly important in children's development, its potential being directly connected to a solid foundation in childhood and early years education. A positive experience in preschool can be a major determinant of the process of lifelong education, since it has the potential to influence families in understanding the value of education and the willingness of the child to participate in the school process.

This diploma sets out the curricular parameters, the most appropriate teaching methods and the expected learning outcomes.

5. Decree-Law establishing the National Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Timor-Leste

This diploma approves the creation of the UNESCO National Commission in Timor-Leste and defines its nature, functions, organizational structure and financial and patrimonial regime.

This measure follows the recommendation of Article VII of the United Nations Organization (UN), which refers to the establishment of a National Committee in every member state for a better coordination and implementation of the activities within UNESCO. Timor-Leste is a member of UN and UNESCO.

6. First amendment to the Decree-law establishing the general arrangements for Evaluation in Higher Education and establishes the National Agency for Assessment and Academic Accreditation (ANAAA)

This legislation meets the need of terminological harmonization resulting from the approval of the National Qualifications System of Timor-Leste. It also upgrades the Decree-law once taking into account the experience gained by ANAAA since its establishment in 2010, and responds to the urgent need of providing the Agency with an organic structure and mechanisms allowing it to respond to current challenges faced by the country, carrying out its mission effectively.

7. Decree Law approving the Statute of the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)

With the aim of making Timor-Leste more competitive in a global society of knowledge, and in compliance with the V Constitutional Government Program, it is created the National Institute of Technology with responsibility for developing research studies and analysis on applied sciences.

The NIST will be the supporting Institute for research and scientific and technological development, endowed with administrative, technical and scientific autonomy, under the tutelage and supervision of the Government member responsible for the area of science.

The Council of Ministers also analysed:

1. Progress report on the organization of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the CPLP

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation submitted to the Council of Ministers the current status of the organization of the 10th Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), which will take place on July 23, ahead of the Rotating Presidency of the Community by Timor-Leste, for the next two years. Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers Dili, June 17th, 2014 Press Release June 17th, 2014 http://timor-leste.gov.tl/?p=10183&lang=en 

20 June 2014

Fundasaun Mahein: Sexual Violence Continues to Rise in Timor-Leste Amidst Government Inaction

ETLJB 20/06/2014 - From Fundasaun Mahein: This past week, reports surfaced that a mother and her daughter were raped before being killed and thrown into the ocean at Area Branca. Fundasaun Mahein (FM) received reports that there were at least three men involved in the targeted attack, at least one of whom was a taxi driver.  In a separate incident taking place on the 21st of January, a 12 year-old girl was raped in Comoro by an older man.  The victim took her case to the police, but authorities have still not apprehended the perpetrator.  

These incidents are just the latest in a growing and increasingly worrisome trend of violence targeted against women and children in Timor-Leste. It is not the first time Fundasaun Mahein has reported on this trend, nor is it the first time sexual violence has been linked to taxi drivers in Timor. This past August FM published a blog post examining the relationship between growing organized crime and sexual violence in Timor-Leste.  One of the cases cited was the abduction and gang-rape of a woman taking a taxi in the area of the US embassy.  

Another troubling aspect of violent crimes in Timor-Leste is the increasingly accepted trend of publicly posting pictures of victims to social media sites like Facebook.  In the wake of this recent case involving the deaths of a mother and her daughter, there has been widespread dissemination of pictures and personal information about the two victims on the Internet.  This practice is unacceptable.  It is a breach of victim privacy and could also potentially affect the investigation of the crime.

Fundasaun Mahein asserts that the Ministry of Justice should publicly address this issue and work to prevent people from posting pictures of victims.  At the very least, the public should be encouraged to only publicize pictures with censored identities (blurred or black-out faces).  In addition, the Ministry of Justice should do more to provide public acknowledgement and information on violent crimes, especially for highly publicized cases.  A steady and transparent stream of information from a respected and credible source like the Ministry of Justice will help to dispel rumors, and will deter people from feeling the need to post personal information of victims on social media sites.

The rise of sexual violence can be viewed as a byproduct of a more prevalent cultural attitude that marginalizes women in Timor-Leste.  It is imperative that the government does everything in its power to reverse this pattern and protect the women and children of this nation.  Female leaders in the government should lead the charge to push reform for women’s rights and protections.   These reforms must include increasing the capacity for law enforcement to investigate and successfully prosecute sexual and violent offenders.      

FM also recommends that specific legislation be passed to address the unregulated taxi industry in Timor-Leste.  If the government wants its citizens to feel safe using taxis, it should take more steps to ensure that drivers have no criminal history or connections to organized crime. Source: http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/02/04/sexual-violence-continues-to-rise-amidst-government-inaction-2/ 

Fundasaun Mahein (FM): Is Prison a Place of Social Reintegration?

ETLJB 20/06/2014 - Mahein’s Voice. No. 67 analyses whether or not prison is a place of social reintegration.  According to decree law No. 02/2013, Directorate of the National Services of Prison and Social Reinsertion (DNSPSR), prisons are meant to enact rule of law and provide management and a security system along with social reintegration services; with the principal mission being to strengthen the necessary mechanisms in order to apply a prison system that is considered humane, fair and secure.

Historically, prisons in Timor-Leste are full of bad practices against people.  Bad practices against people existed even before the Portuguese entered Timor-Leste, such as slaves who were meant only to serve kings.  If slaves did not perform well, they would face grave consequences and various forms of torture. Before Portugal entered Timor, the philosophy of the prison is a place to stop or detain people who make mistakes.  Prison during the colonial period, however, was practically a criminal institution itself, because the prisoners always received unjust treatment and even torture at the hands of the security guards.

During Indonesia’s occupation from 1975-1999, and the elder brother’s period of struggle between political parties attacking each other, many were arrested and detained in prison for torture.  Sympathizers and militants of political parties fell victim to this.  Bad treatment continued to be enacted by Indonesia’s military and security forces. The Indonesian authorities arrested thousands of Timorese.  They were tortured in prison and many acts of sexual violence were committed against women.

FM’s monitoring shows that prison violence has occurred after the Independence period, and there have been many cases of physical abuse of prisoners by guards while the prisoners were detained in prison. Many unpublicized incidents have taken place behind the secrecy of prison walls, such as the case of Feliz de Jesus, who was physically attacked by 3 prison guards while detained.


1. Recommend to the National Parliament Committee A to conduct supervision for the prisoners in Timor-Leste and monitor what takes place in prisons and the condition of the prisons.This oversight should aim to ensure that prisons serve a social reintegration purpose, and are not centers for torture or abuse.

2. Recommend to the Ministry of Justice through the Directorate of the National Services for Prisoner and Social Reinsertion to provide adequate training for prison guards, particularly  regarding responsibility, to ensure that prison guards do not violate prisoner’s rights. 

3. Recommend to the Ministry of Justice through the directorate of the National Services for Prisoner and Social Reinsertion to support a constructive mentality for detained prisoners during their sentence in order to transform or influence their criminal tendencies towards civic participation before they are re-integrated to their community. Source: www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/01/28/tebes-ka-prizaun-fatin-reinsersaun-sosial/

19 June 2014

Assaults, attempted murder, aggravated murder, negligent homicide, sexual abuse of minor cases heard by Suai District Court in February 2014

ETLJB 19/06/2014 East Timor's Judicial System Monitoring System has released the English translation of its monitoring report of court proceedings in the Suai District Court in the month of February 2014. The text of the translation follows.

Summary of the trial process at the Suai District Court February 2014


In February 2014 JSMP observed 27 cases at the Suai District Court. These cases comprised 24 criminal cases and 3 civil cases. These cases related to a range of criminal acts including 14 cases involving simple offences against physical integrity, 1 case of passive corruption, 1 case of aggravated theft, 1 case of attempted murder, 1 case of abuse of trust, 3 cases of alimony, 1 case of theft, 1 case of manslaughter, and 1 case involving crimes against flora and fauna. The other three 3 cases all related to issues regarding the custody of children.

23 of these 27 cases have already been decided by the court.10 cases resulted in suspended prison sentences, 1 case resulted in a fine, in 6 cases the defendants were acquitted, settlements were validated in 3 cases and the other 4 cases are ongoing.

The information below outlines the hearings conducted:

Fundasaun Mahein: Fraud in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 19/06/2014 From Fundasaun Mahein 14/04/2014 - On the 31st of March 2014 the PNTL arrested Lazaro Ribeiro (LR) in the suburb of Villa Verde in Dili. Among the items Senior Ribeiro was in possession of were 6 sim cards from various telephone companies in Timor-Leste and at least two sim cards from Indonesian telecommunications companies. The crime that LR has been charged with is fraud. Police allege that LR has, over the past four years, been selectively choosing targets and then trying to unlawfully to defraud them of their money.

These deceptive activities have been mostly targeted at foreign embassies and development donors. Police allege that LR has, over this time frame, been creating fictitious organisations and projects which he has then used to try and gain grant money earmarked for development projects designed to help the people of Timor-Leste. It is very concerning that LR was allowed to carry on these activities for four years and even more concerning that he managed to gain a large sum of money from these activities as well.

Over these four years LR has targeted the embassies of: South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan in addition to targeting The European Union Mission to Timor-Leste and the Prime Minister’s Civil Society Fund. These requests for grants were usually between the amounts of $25,000 – $100,000 or as in the case of the Civil Society fund, a request for a new Motor Vehicle. Two cases are currently being investigated by the PNTL over alleged fraud cases involving LR of which FM cannot comment on at this time due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. There are also allegations that LR has also targeted the people of Timor-Leste, borrowing large amounts of money from ordinary people with the promise of paying it back at a high interest rate, and then never returning a cent.

First of all Fundasaun Mahein would like to congratulate PNTL in finally arresting LR. Left alone fraudsters have the potential to cause great amount of damage, not only to the people who they have scammed but also in terms of a loss in credibility for legitimate projects that rely on grant money to help improve the lives of people in Timor-Leste.

Fundasaun Mahein however would like to ask the PNTL to investigate this case of fraud further. From the evidence presented so far Fundasaun Mahein strongly suspects that LR did not act alone. For an operation like this, it is likely that LR had help at some point, if not from an organized crime syndicate than at least from a small network of accomplices. We ask the PNTL to continue this investigation and try and eradicate this network of scammers once and for from Timor-Leste.

Fundasaun Mahein also ask that all embassies and donors considering any grant proposals to take some time to ensure that the grant application is from a legitimate source. This will ensure any grants are to be used correctly, in their intended way, as well as discouraging any other potential fraudsters from trying to defraud the people of Timor-Leste. Source: http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/04/14/fraud-in-timor-leste/

East Timor National Police (PNTL) Releases 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

ETLJB 19/06/2014 From Fundasaun Mahein 11/02/2104 - This week the PNTL released its strategic activity plan for the years 2014-2018.  In this release, entitled “PNTL Business (Activity) Plan 2014-2018”, the PNTL provides a comprehensive overview of its organizational goals and activities for the upcoming five years.  Among the topics covered are the PNTL’s vision, mission, principles, motto, and the strategic direction and objectives for 2014-2018 as defined by the RDTL government.  The strategic plan also reinforces the PNTL’s “VIP” policing model, which advocates for visibility, involvement, and professionalism in every PNTL activity. 

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) welcomes the transparent release of this plan, and is happy that the PNTL has invited FM to participate in the launch of the 2014-2018 strategic plan.

The PNTL Business Plan highlights four specific priorities:

1. Budget, Finance, and Administration
2.  Community Policing
3. Traffic and Road Safety
4.  Crime Prevention, Investigation and Intelligence

These priorities will be highlighted within the implementation of the PNTL’s two core objectives: reforming and developing the PNTL institution, and the consolidation of public order and community security. FM views the PNTL’s objective of reform and development - which calls for the prioritization of budget, finance, and administration - as particularly crucial to the organization’s success. More specifically, the PNTL strategic plan mentions “Delivering financial and administrative strategies to manage the human and physical resources of the PNTL.”

FM applauds the attention to detail and close thought that the PNTL has put into the creation of the 2014-2018 strategic plan. FM also welcomes the report’s transparent release, and is happy that the PNTL has invited FM to participate in the plan’s launch.

At the same time, it is important to remember that any plan unaccompanied by resources or action is destined to fail.  The creation and release of the 2014-2018 strategic plan is a step in the right direction, but the PNTL must now prepare to tackle the much more difficult task of successfully implementing the activities it has promised to carry out.  FM hopes that the multitude of key activities specified in the 2014-2018 Business Plan will be carried out, and that all PNTL members will act in unison to abide by and seek to achieve the goals and activities set out in the plan.  It is of utmost importance that PNTL officers take the goals outlined in the strategic plan seriously.  It is also important that the PNTL works to ensure accurate and transparent self-assessment of its successes and failures to implement its planned activities over the next five years.

As a civil society organization monitoring the security sector, FM will do its part to ensure that the PNTL is held to the standard that it has set for itself.  Over the next few weeks, please keep an eye out for a full-length Mahein’s Voice report offering in-depth analysis and commentary on the PNTL 2014-2018 strategic plan. Source: http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/02/11/pntl-releases-2014-2018-strategic-plan/  11/02/2014

JSMP to Launch Report on Children's Access to Formal Justice in Timor-Leste and a Unit dedicated to Women and Children's Justice

ETLJB 19/06/2014 - Children's right to access justice makes children's other human rights a reality. Access to justice for children means that children must be able to use and trust the legal system to protect their human rights. In Timor-Leste, there are still great obstacles to the realisation of children's right to access justice.

JSMP is launching a report - Children's Access to Formal Justice in Timor-Leste- A Status Report – which aims to provide an analysis of children's right to access the formal justice system in Timor-Leste, encompassing all points of contact that children have with the formal justice system. Its objective is to identify and assess the extent of the problems affecting the realisation of this right as well as to identify possible measures to address those problems. It is expected that findings and recommendations from this report will inform relevant stakeholders in the development of long-term intervention strategies in the area of child justice.

This report was produced with generous support from UNICEF and Australian Aid.

Recognising the importance of children's justice matters, JSMP has also decided to expand the scope of its Women's Justice Unit to include children’s justice. Thus, JSMP will also launch its new Women and Children's Justice Unit. Source: JSMP Press Release 03/06/2014

East Timor President says whole society has "corrupt mentality"

TMR. Image credit: Demotix
ETLJB 19/06/2014 - According to report in the media outlet Jornal Independente, the President of East Timor, Taur Matan Ruak, has said that the whole of East Timorese society has a "corrupt mentality"; not only at the higher levels of society but at the community level as well.

"Many times when I visit communities, I hear people questioning me about the higher level people all being corrupt, but in truth the whole of society has a corrupt mentality.

Although there has been some change,s the perception is that all high level people in our society are corrupt," the head of state said at the Presidential Palace at Aitarak Laran, recently.

He gave the example of some veterans who falsified personal histories to claim money from the state, the elderly who falsify documents to received the pension, some students who falsify their records to get their diplomas, those who sell fish and meat who manipulate prices to get more profits, and because of this, corruption does not only occur at high levels, but also at the grassroots.

"It is our society that has a corrupt mentality, and not just high level people," the PR said. Source: (Translation from  Tetum) Jornal Independente Thursday 22 May 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

18 June 2014

One half of 42 cases before Suai District Court involved domestic violence

ETLJB 18/06/2014 East Timor's Judicial System Monitoring Program reports that of a total of 42 cases heard recently before the Suai District Court, 21 of the cases involved domestic violence. The English translation of the report by JSMP follows.

Between 28 May and 30 May 2014, the Suai District Court conducted a mobile court in Bobonaro and tried 42 cases.

These 42 cases comprised 39 criminal cases and 3 civil cases. The criminal cases comprised 4 cases of simple assault, 21 cases of domestic violence, 4 cases of rape, 1 case of sexual coercion, 1 case of sexual abuse against a minor, 2 cases of making threats, 1 case of aggravated property damage, 1 case of aggravated theft, 1 case of serious assault, 1 case of manslaughter, 1 case of crimes against flora and fauna, and 1 case of property damage. The 3 civil cases comprised 1 land dispute and 2 cases regarding alimony.

The mobile court concluded 30 of the 42 cases, whilst the remaining 12 cases are ongoing.

JSMP observed that most of the cases heard by the mobile court involved gender based violence (27 of the 42 cases tried). This is quite a significant amount for three days of court hearings. In almost all of the monitoring conducted by JSMP, it is apparent that the trials conducted via the mobile court or the district courts are dominated by crimes of violence against women and girls.

“JSMP hopes that the presence of the mobile court in rural areas will increase public awareness that domestic violence and violence against women are serious crimes and those involved will be held accountable for their actions in accordance with the nature and seriousness of each case,” said Luis de Oliveira Sampaio, the Executive Director of JSMP.

JSMP believes that the mobile court program not only reduces the back-log of cases, but it brings justice closer to rural communities. The mobile court also has a significant social impact by deterring gender based violence  through appropriately punishing such crimes.

The mobile court was conducted by the following judges: Alvaro Maria Freitas, Costansio Barros Bâsmery, Argentino Luisa Nunes, Pedro R. de Figueiredo and Florencia Freitas. The public prosecution service was represented by Benvinda da Costa do Rosario and Antonio da Silva Tavares and the defendants were given legal assistance by public defenders Joao Henrique de Carvalho and Manuel Amaral. Source: JSMP Press Release 03 June 2014

Confusion reigns over Timor-Leste’s controversial new media law

ETLJB 18/06/2014  Pacific Scoop 15/06/2014 Special Report – By Shannon Gillies in Dili

Confusion reigns over a controversial media law adopted by Parliament but yet to be promulgated in the fledgling Asia-Pacific democracy of Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste parliamentarians have adopted a new media law that does not differentiate between journalists and social media users, will impose licensing for journalists and a narrow definition of a “journalist” and potentially bars foreign journalists.

Journalists are expected to fall into line with the government’s media definitions and foreign reporters could be blocked at the country’s borders.Parliament passed the law on May 6 that impacts on the press and rights of freedom of speech. The President, Taur Matan Ruak, has 30 days to examine the law and has the right to veto it and send it back to Parliament with any concerns he may have.

The law is available in Portuguese, which only a limited number of the Timor-Leste population understands, and the indigenous national language Tetun. Read the full article here.

See also

Pacific Freedom Forum calls on President to veto new media law in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 18/06/2014 PFF - 7 June 2014 Press Release: PFF Rarotonga Cook Islands Wednesday 1 June 2014­

The new media law in Timor-Leste should be vetoed by the country’s President, agrees the Pacific Freedom Forum.

PFF is backing the veto call from La'o Hamutuk, the Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis, an independent development watchdog, joined by the Pacific Media Centre, other NGOs and journalists.

“Timor-Leste has had a free media for the last decade, as noted by La'o Hamutuk, for the first time in 500 years of colonialism,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

That new law risks returning the young country to colonial style repression, she warns.

“Freedom for East Timor was won with the blood of countless thousands, including constitutional freedoms of speech,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

“This new law disrespects their sacrifice, and threatens the future stability and prosperity of East Timor.”

Government drafted the laws last year based on media regulations in Indonesia and Portugal, and passed them last month.

“It is disturbing that the government East Timor is considering using laws similar to its former colonial masters to impose oppressive restrictions on its own citizens,” says Gabi.

Speaking from Port Moresby, she called on the government to submit its media law to independent review.

“It is not too late for government to delay implementation of the law and seek full and proper consultation with those affected.

“Credibility of the current East Timor administration depends on it seeking and implementing feedback on this new law.”

She praised the courage and leadership against the law from journalism pioneer José Belo, who has repeatedly stated that he will not register under the new laws, and would rather go to jail.

PFF co-Chair Monica Miller said that comments from an official at a World Press Freedom Day event last month were a disturbing indication of government’s intentions under the new law.

At a seminar at the University of Timor-Leste, the head of a parliamentary committee, Carmelita Moniz, said that any evidence of corruption should be sent directly to authorities and not published first in the media.

“This suggests that the government fails to see conflicts of interest resulting from suppressing information that concerns itself,” she says.


The new law has been described in media reports as among the world’s most repressive.