04 November 2014

Veteran's payments in Timor-Leste - a source of conflict?

ETLJB 04/11/2014 From Belun's Early Warning, Early Response Program September 2014 - This policy brief is a condensed version of Belun's 2012 report, The Social Impact of Veterans Payment Processes, and has been fully updated with new information and recommendations.

The question of how to recognize those who participated in the resistance movement is both sensitive and essential for Timor-Leste. The government must balance multiple priorities, responding to the needs of various groups and their competing demands. Indeed, providing recognition for those who fought for independence must be tempered with the provision of broad-based social assistance to the entire population. In Timor-Leste, the disarmament and demobilization of former resistance members is nearly complete, but reintegration remains a protracted process. Since 1999, the Timorese government has sought to address this issue and develop policies to address the needs of its veterans.

Beginning with the first constitutional government, and through multiple rounds of policy development and revision, Timorese legislators have made considerable progress in attending to the needs of National Liberation Combatants (CLNs), through the elaboration of a channel for social assistance to veterans and providing recognition to those who participated in the armed front. However, challenges and tensions have emerged in relation to the payment system and the public’s limited understanding of the social assistance laws.

Furthermore, the pension program has created new divisions and conflicts among community members, since some individuals have received considerable amounts of money while others continue to wait for medals and pensions. A significant issue has also arisen around whether those receiving payments are recognized as legitimate beneficiaries by their communities.

With these issues in mind, Belun believes that practical and straightforward initiatives can help to ease tensions and better prepare communities and families to respond to disputes arising from veterans' social assistance payments. Recommendations include improving the public's understanding of the veterans' law, finding creative solutions for distributing veteran's payments and developing tools to deal with problems of social jealousy. Source: http://belun.tl/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Policy-Brief_-VETERANS-PAYMENTS_Final_31-August-2014.pdf

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