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09 December 2019

Witch killings: Anthropological and Juridical Perspectives

East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin witchcraft in east timor juridical anthropological perspectives

I recently came upon a paper Beyond Democratic Tolerance: Witch Killings in Timor-Leste [1] in which an earlier debate between myself and Nicholas Herriman demonstrated some fundamental misconceptions by anthropologists as apologists for all things of custom, including law.

I hold a formal degree in anthropology and sociology so I am not simply approaching the problem of extra-judicial killings of innocent citizens, by, in effect, a crazed mob, from a juristic perspective only but from an entirely holistic analysis.

I am particularly concerned about the proposition that democracy in not inimical to witch killings.

"To the extent that this is true, it appears that democracy is not antithetical to witch killings."

That is a proposition that must be answered because it is fundamentally very problematical.

I draw an analogy with the historical ideology of racism that corrupted anthropology and ethnography beyond redemption as a respectable intellectual paradigm for understanding and explaining reality, let alone being a reliable foundation for policy and laws.

My own interpretation of that statement is that it inverts and therefore distorts the juristic truth that it is witch killing that is antithetical to democracy. For jurists, that is axiomatic.

And that was my original point, that witch killings are antithetical to democracy; the response was the democracy is not antithetical to witch killings.

This might seem futile semantic hair splitting but it goes to the core of the matter. The next logical step for the jurist is that customary law is antithetical to democracy and that is the fundamental problem.

Furthermore, it follows that customary law can only operate in the positive law subject to the constraints of the positive law, as far as permitted by the positive law and strictly enforced so that the social problem of witch killings stops and a new level of social consciousness and advancement is achieved, if only for the utilitarian purpose of the betterment of all at the cost of the few, the few die hard traditionalists who insist on maintaining their draconian and primitive social, political and economic power, along with their Western academic anthropologist apologists, apologists for murder.

By endorsing and promoting customary law, anthropologists have not only stepped beyond any supposed legitimate scientific investigation within their discipline, but they thereby become complicit at an abstract level in these bloody atrocities.

They set themselves and their ideologies above responsibility for the advancement of perverse and abominable cultural maladaptations that fly in the face of civilisation and challenge and compromise the modern nation State polity that is entirely dependent upon constitutionality and the dictatorship of the rule of law, as they struggle to transform from feudal or alien invasion and hegemony in the homeland into democracy and justice informed only by experiential evidence, methodological resolution of social problems and rational theory, not by supernatural mumbo-jumbo.

In this never ending quest, for even modernised post-industrial societies continue to face challenges from State and corporate domination, rather than the matter at had, only juridical ideas can form a sound foundation for a new order.

Firstly, let us identify witch killings for what they are:

murder;
manslaughter;
unlawful killings;
extra-judicial killings (including torture);
mob-rule; and, therefore,
a profoundly disturbing cultural maladaptation.

Secondly, I reiterate some observations that emphasise the problematics of customary law from a strictly juristic analysis but nonetheless one that is informed by anthropological data; and that is where the role of anthropology stops. The role of anthropology here is merely to inform the State's legal policy, not substitute nor dictate it.

The efforts by anthropologists to compel the State to "respect" customary law, incorporate supernatural explications into the purely secular legal system and into the positive law and allow them to operate as an agent of justice are not legitimate pursuits for anthropology. They are not intellectual exercises. They have become part of the anthropological apology and grafted onto yet another ideological or political agenda that does not credit intellectualism.

I maintain that the correct starting point for any analysis of this issue is that the advocates of customary law advocate retrograde social devolution that is truly antithetical to the universal norms of humanity itself that are expressed in instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which anthropologists have closed their eyes, and their minds.

In 2003, a remarkable paper was presented by the then President of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, on the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Conflict Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste.

I would like to extract from the text of that paper, not only to advance my argument here but to generally draw attention to the ideas in that paper, which I adopt without any amendment or reservation.

"[T]raditional laws ... represent the stage of evolution of a society and usually correspond to societies based on feudal relationships both in the social and religious (non-formal religions) aspects; both aspects are combined with the political and economic ones and add to another which refers to castes as the lower echelons of society, slaves and those who practice witchcraft and whom are usually denied rights."

"Traditional justice is usually enforced by traditional chiefs acting as the authority, by the elders whose experiences prevail and by the 'lia-nain' (literally: keeper of the word) who are considered the men of law. The 'lia-nain' are usually the custodians of the 'lulik' (all that is sacred) or have some link to it; this derives from the need to link that which is real to that which is ethereal in order to accord moral credibility to whichever solution is adopted.

This combination of factors normally (not necessarily always) brings grave implications in the shaping of justice. One factor arises from the status held by the agents of justice and the other from the extremely powerful influence resulting from the interpretation of the facts, usually explained by resorting to the supernatural and often denying the realistic content of the values of justice (or overriding reality itself)."

"There are no defense lawyers involved but testimonies of witnesses are deemed of great importance. Direct confrontation of facts between both parties occurs before all present at an assembly and all those interested may have their say. Most of the time, this method positively influences the agents of justice leading to an impartial decision."

"There is no common pattern in the sentencing or punishment; because there were no prisons."

"It is absolutely necessary to place modern laws within a context to counterbalance the confines of the interpretation of values by Traditional Justice, so as to clearly define the limits to which Traditional Justice must comply with and thus avoid trampling on the spirit of the law of a country or stepping on human rights."

"This undertaking will also enable negative traditional concepts, which today still greatly influence the attitudes and reactions of people, to be corrected.

I wish you every success in this voyage to the past."

And so I reiterate the summation by Strating, Rebecca, and Beth Edmondson of the divergence in the analytical approaches between anthropology and the law to the social problem of witch killings in East Timor.

“In Timor-Leste these tensions are pronounced in continuing debates concerning the killing or injuring of women accused of witchcraft – a country where infrequent, extrajudicial punishments of accused witches have continued to occur since independence (Wright 2012; Jütersonke et al. 2010: 51).

In a much-publicised case in 2009, the police were called to calm residents after rumours spread of a witch named Margareta flying over Dili (Wright 2012).

For instance, during the international state-building mission, allegations emerged that a group of men had tortured and killed an elderly woman they had accused of witchcraft in the eastern Los Palos district (Wright 2012).

A spectrum of customary punishments exists whereby punishments are imposed according to the “severity of witchcraft involved” (Wright 2012).

Another suspected witch reportedly died after hot coals were placed on her back (Wright 2012).

A debate emerged in the Timor-Leste Law Bulletin concerning the “democratic” nature of these customary punishments, primarily between Nick Herriman and Warren Wright. Wright (2012) expressed concerns regarding the extrajudicial nature of these killings and the challenges they pose for Timor-Leste’s democratic institutions. He contends that:

Many anthropologists who lack a comprehension of the concepts of democratic secular law and justice, are ardent supporters of traditional justice systems even though they posit supernatural hypotheses for the explanation of the realities of social disharmony and criminal conduct and impose corporal punishments and worse tortures on citizens accused of the impossible crime of witchcraft. (Wright 2012) Witch Killings in Timor-Leste

In response, Herriman (2009)[3] argues that his fieldwork demonstrates that: Killing “sorcerers” […] was the wish of almost all local residents – often the “sorcerers” own family, friends, and neighbours. In the sense that it is the will of the majority, it is thus democratic. If a trial by jury were established, I strongly suspect that “sorcerers” would be similarly condemned. I suspect that most villagers in Timor-Leste would also wish to kill witches. To the extent that this is true, it appears that democracy is not antithetical to witch killings. (Herriman 2009)

This debate over the democratic nature of these killings points to the challenges the East Timorese state faces in achieving authority over customary law, including laws concerning the punishment of witches. Controversies concerning issues of legitimate jurisdictional capacities highlight the importance of reconciling diverse views of the public regarding the relationship between citizens’ identities and roles, and engendering widespread recognition of the authority of state structures and agencies.

While there may sometimes be good reasons for retaining old cultural practices in new political systems and the resulting new cultures, it is not always possible or reasonable to do so. When claims of cultural practice extend to extrajudicial punishments, it is impossible to reconcile their preservation or efforts to legitimate them within the practices and structures of a new democratic state. For new states seeking to accommodate and preserve cultural practices, it is not necessarily the case that “old” traditions are superior to “new” structures (Wright 2012; Edgerton 2000: 131).", citing Wright, Warren (2012), Murder and Witchcraft in Timor-Leste, in: East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin, 22 December, online: (10 December 2015).

Herriman's essentially bewildering critique of my analysis is reflected in the following paragraphs.

"The final problem with the case to intervene and stop East Timorese killing witches, is that the criteria Wright provide are themselves susceptible to a relativist critique. He advocates, for example, the criterion of “non-draconian”, implying a good legal system is not draconian. For some Aboriginal people living in traditional communities, the formal justice system which incarcerates them (often with fatal results) is more draconian than their system, which might resort to spearing an offender. For many Whites, traditional Aboriginal justice of spearing is draconian.

Another problematic criterion for Wright’s legal system is “democratic”. Killing ‘sorcerers’ where I did fieldwork was the wish of almost all local residents - often the ‘sorcerers’ own family, friends, and neighbours. In the sense that it is the will of the majority, it is thus democratic. If a trial by jury were established, I strongly suspect that ‘sorcerers’ would be similarly condemned. I suspect that most villagers in Timor Leste would also wish to kill witches. To the extent that this is true, it appears that democracy is not antithetical to witch killings.

It might be that we are justified in morally judging and intervening in other societies. I suggest that engaging with the long debate over relativism in anthropology would be a good place to begin this debate. In any case, we should be wary that intervening in societies, even with the best of intentions, most often has a damaging effect.

Finally the criteria we assert for changing a society - such as making the legal system “democratic” and “non-draconian” - should be defined in a manner which is not culturally specific. The case to intervene and stop witch killings in East Timor could be strengthened by taking this step."

My response to this critique is set forth herein.

Warren L. Wright BA LLB

08 December 2019

[1] Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs Strating, Rebecca, and Beth Edmondson (2015), Beyond Democratic Tolerance: Witch Killings in Timor-Leste, in: Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 34, 3, 37–64. URN: http://nbn-resolving.org/urn/resolver.pl?urn:nbn:de:gbv:18-4-9050ISSN: 1868-4882 (online), ISSN: 1868-1034 (print)Published by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Institute of Asian Studies and Hamburg University Press.

[2] On the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Conflict Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste published at https://easttimorlawjournal.blogspot.com/2012/05/on-occasion-of-international-conference.html

[3] The Case to Intervene and Stop East Timorese Killing ‘Witches’  Dr Nicholas Herriman Postdoctoral Research Fellow Centre of Southeast Asian Studies Monash Asia Institute Monash University http://arts.monash.edu.au/mai/staff/nherriman.php

26 November 2019

Timor-Leste Noticias Estatísticas 2018 Crime Statistics


Image result for east timor police law and justice bulletin warren wright
4018 Policia Timor-Leste 
Policia Basic 2018 - Crime rate per 100,000 increased - Crime Typology - Registered suspects in 2018 - Suspects Demographics - Ages of Suspects - Reduction in criminal events reported to investigative police - Dramatic decrease in homicides - Demographics of Victims - General Observations - Baucau start 2018 - Suai start 2018 - Oecusse Ambeno start 2018 - Thirty-one Judges - 4018 police officers 

Source: Directorate General for Statistics.

Basic 2018

5,151 criminal acts

500 more than 2017

43.2% occurring in the Capital 2,223 cases were recorded

Oecusse-Ambeno  450 cases 8.7% of the total.

Manufahi with only 73 cases.

Crime rate per 100,000 increased

Crime rate increased in 2018 from 381 to 435 per 100,000 inhabitants (338 in 2016 and 271 in 2015), with the highest in Dili (rising from 714 to 802) and the highest. With lowest in Ainaro (124).

Crime Typology

Physical integrity offenses (2,212)
Threats (330)
Spousal abuse (321)
Simple damages (292)

Registered suspects in 2018

The authorities registered a total of 2,631 suspects

472 in Dili,
438 in Oecusse and
305 in Liquica,

Suspects Demographics

Largest share of suspects  958 being between 20 and 29 years.

735 with between 30 and 39 years.

Ages of Suspects

Eleven suspects under nine and 83 over 60.

Reduction in criminal events reported to investigative police

The 2018 Criminal Statistics Report states that 162 criminal events were reported to the investigative police, down from 222 investigated in 2016.

Fraud was the most prevalent crime with 37 cases reported to the police and investigated criminally (one less than in 2016).

Dramatic decrease in homicides

A significant drop in the number of homicides investigated, only two against 25 in 2016.

Demographics of Victims

Authorities reported a total of 2,933 victims, the largest share (1,229) was aged 20-29, followed by 574 aged 30-39.

There were 57 victims under nine and 133 over 60.

General Observations

Among other things, the report reports on court cases, proving the limitation of appeals in the four courts with thousands of pending cases, between criminal and civil courts.

In criminal terms, the country's largest court in Dili began 2018 with 2,285 pending cases, with 1,452 cases pending and 1,505 cases pending, 2,364 pending at the end of the year.

As regards civil cases, they were pending at the beginning of the year 794, 36 entered, only 10 were tried, so 2018 ended with 820 pending cases.

Baucau start 2018

In Baucau, the country's second city, a total of 322 criminal cases were pending at the beginning of 2018, 456 pending and 585 prosecuted, with the year ending with 314 pending. There were 234 civil cases pending, 107 were filed and 89 were settled, and the year ended with 234 pending.

Suai start 2018

Criminal

785 criminal cases were pending
442 were filed
325 were tried
775 were pending.

Civil

The number of pending civil cases was 228, 69 were filed and 42 were settled and 228 pending.

Oecusse Ambeno start 2018 

Civil Cases start 2018 

219 pending
330 were added
2346 were resolved
leaving pending 212

Criminal Cases start 2018

75 pending
plus 35 inmate
seven judged
75 pending at the civil [?] level.

Thirty-one Judges as at end 2017

The Dili Court at the end of 2017 had 16 judges, Baucau and Suai with seven each and Oecusse with one.

Police Officers as at end 2017

At the end of 2017, Timor-Leste had 4018 police officers

Special Police Unit (715)
Dili municipality command (467)
The General Command (306).

TRANSLATION ORIGINAL TEXT IN PORTUGUESE 
https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/criminalidade-continua-a-aumentar-em-timor-leste-com-mais-de-cinco-mil-casos-em-2018_n1181983 Lusa

Crime continues to rise in Timor-Leste, with over 5,000 cases in 2018


TRANSLATION ORIGINAL TEXT IN PORTUGUESE 
https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/criminalidade-continua-a-aumentar-em-timor-leste-com-mais-de-cinco-mil-casos-em-2018_n1181983 por Lusa

Image result for crime east timorCrime increased in Timor-Leste in 2018, with a total of 5,151 criminal acts, 500 more than the previous year, with 43.2% occurring in the capital, according to annual data from the Directorate General for Statistics.

After Dili, where 2,223 cases were recorded, the municipality with the most incidents in 2018 was the Oecusse-Ambeno enclave, with 450 cases, or 8.7% of the total. Manufahi, with only 73 cases, was the region with the fewest incidents. , according to the report to which Lusa had access.

The crime rate also increased in 2018 from 381 to 435 per 100,000 inhabitants (338 in 2016 and 271 in 2015), with the highest in Dili (rising from 714 to 802) and the highest. low in Ainaro (124).

Of the total criminal offenses, physical integrity offenses accounted for the largest share of crimes (2,212) followed by threats (330), spousal abuse (321), and simple damages (292).

The authorities registered a total of 2,631 suspects, of which 472 in Dili, 438 in the Oecusse enclave and 305 in Liquica, with the largest share of suspects (958) being between 20 and 29 years, followed by 735 with between 30 and 39. years.

There were also eleven suspects under nine and 83 over 60.

The 2018 Criminal Statistics Report states that 162 "criminal events were reported to the investigative police", down from 222 investigated in 2016.

Of this case group, fraud was the most prevalent crime with 37 cases reported to the police and investigated criminally (one less than in 2016) with a significant drop in the number of homicides investigated, only two against 25 in 2016.

Authorities reported a total of 2,933 victims, the largest share (1,229) aged 20-29, followed by 574 aged 30-39. There were 57 victims under nine and 133 over 60.

Among other things, the report reports on court cases, proving the limitation of appeals in the four courts with thousands of pending cases, between criminal and civil courts.

In criminal terms, the country's largest court in Dili began 2018 with 2,285 pending cases, with 1,452 cases pending and 1,505 cases pending, 2,364 pending at the end of the year.

As regards civil cases, they were pending at the beginning of the year 794, 36 entered, only 10 were tried, so 2018 ended with 820 pending cases.

In Baucau, the country's second city, a total of 322 criminal cases were pending at the beginning of 2018, 456 pending and 585 prosecuted, with the year ending with 314 pending. There were 234 civil cases pending, 107 were filed and 89 were settled, and the year ended with 234 pending.

In Suai, 785 criminal cases were pending at the beginning of the year, 442 were filed and 325 were tried and 775 were pending. The number of pending civil cases was 228, 69 were filed and 42 were settled and 228 pending.

In the Oecusse Ambeno enclave the year began with 219 pending, 330 were added and 2346 resolved, pending 212 - at the criminal level - with 75 pending at the beginning of the year, plus 35 inmates, seven judged and 75 pending at the civil level. .

The Dili Court at the end of 2017 had 16 judges, Baucau and Suai with seven each and Oecusse with one.

At the end of 2017, Timor-Leste had 4-018 police officers, with the largest number in the Special Police Unit (715), followed by the Dili municipality command (467), and the general command (306).
ends

31 October 2019

Komisaun A PN konsidera paraser JSMP kona-ba OJE 2020 ba setór justisa no sei uza bainhira audénsia ho instituisaun relevante sira

JUDICIAL SYSTEM MONITORING PROGRAMME
 PROGRAMA MONITORIZASAUN BA SISTEMA JUDISIÁRIU
Komunikadu Imprensa
Parlamentu Nasionál
30 Outubru 2019                                      

Komisaun A PN konsidera paraser JSMP kona-ba OJE 2020 ba setór justisa no sei uza bainhira audénsia ho instituisaun relevante sira

Iha Tersa-feira, 29 Outubru 2019, Komisaun A, Parlamentu Nasionál (PN) halo audénsia ho ekipa JSMP hodi ko’alia kona-ba proposta Lei Orsamentu Jerál Estadu (OJE) tinan 2020, partikularmente orsamentu ba setór justisa nian.

Iha audénsia ne’e, Diretór Interinu JSMP, Sr. Casimiro dos Santos aprezenta pontu deskobrimentu sira iha setór justisa tuir monitorizasaun JSMP nian. Pontu sira ne’e mak hanesan kestaun fasilidade, rekursu umanu no dezenvolvimentu rekursu umanu ka kapasitasaun.

“JSMP apresia aas tebes Parlamentu Nasionál, partikularmente Komisaun A nia konsiderasaun no konvite ba audénsia ida ne’e hodi rona JSMP nia hanoin kona-ba OJE 2020 ba setór justisa nian. JSMP espera katak dadus ka informasaun sira ne’ebé JSMP aprezenta ne’e bele sai hanesan referénsia ruma ba distintu deputadu sira bainhira halo diskusaun ba orsamentu setór justisa nian. Nune’e bele koloka orsamentu ne’ebé realístiku tuir nesesidade no kapasidade ezekusaun ne’ebé iha,” dehan Diretór Interinu JSMP, Casimiro dos Santos.

JSMP mós agradese ba Komisaun A, Parlamentu Nasionál tanba iha momentu hanesan pela-primeiravés iha istoria JSMP bele mai iha Komisaun A atu fó hanoin kona-ba proposta orsamentu jerál estadu nian liga ho setór justisa.

Iha audénsia ne’e, Prezidente Komisaun A ho Viseprezidente Komisaun A, inklui membru komisaun sira seluk konsidera dadus sira JSMP nian ne’e loos no nu’udar faktu sira ne’ebé akontese iha setór justisa no sei uza informasaun sira ne’e bainhira halo diskusaun no debate iha audénsia ho autór judisiáriu sira inklui ministériu relevante sira kona-ba proposta orsamentu jerál estadu nian ba setór justisa.

Informasaun detallu kona-ba JSMP nia paraser bele asesu iha ne’e http://jsmp.tl/wp-content/uploads/Paraser-kona-ba-OJE-2020-ba-set%C3%B3r-justisa_TETUM-1.pdf


Atu hatene informasaun liutan bele kontaktu:

Casimiro dos Santos
Diretór Interinu JSMP
HP: 77257466 | 3323883

16 October 2019

Domestic Violence and Smuggling Dominate Oekusi District Court July 2019

JUDICIAL SYSTEM MONITORING PROGRAMME
PROGRAMA MONITORIZASAUN BA SISTEMA JUDISIÁRIU
Case Summary Oekusi District Court July 2019

Total number of cases monitored by JSMP: 16

Article 145 of the Penal Code  (PC) as well as Articles 2, 3, 35(b) and 36 of the Law Against Domestic Violence (LADV) Simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence and types of offences categorised as domestic violence.
Article 145 (PC), as well as  Articles 2, 3, and 35(b) and 36 (LADV) and Article 157 of the PC
Simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence and types of offences categorised as domestic violence and threats.
Article 179 of the PC Aggravated sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance
Article 316 of the PC Smuggling
Article 259 of the PC Aggravated property damage

Type of decision

1 Prison sentence (Article 66 of the PC)
12 Suspension of execution of a prison sentence (Article 68 of the PC)
1 Fine (Article 67 of the PC)
1 Admonishment (Article 82 of the PC)
1 Exemption from punishment (Article 318 of the PC)

Short description of the trial proceedings and decisions in these cases

Meeting of the Council of Ministers of 25 September 2019

Coat of Arms East Timor Government East Timor Law Justice Bulletin Warren Leslie Wright
Presidency of the Council of Ministers Eighth Constitutional Government Press Release Meeting of the Council of Ministers of September 25, 2019

The Council of Ministers met at the government Palace in Dili and heard a presentation by the Minister of the Interior, Filomeno da Paixão da Jesus, concerning the priorities of infrastructure construction of the Ministry of the Interior. Based on the vision, mission and strategic plan for the modernization of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and with objectives of strengthening the community police and ensuring the safety of the population the project, which relies on the support of New Zealand cooperation, presents a construction plan up to the year 2030 of 452 buildings of the Community Suco Police, in the 12 municipalities and in the Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno (RAEOA).

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Demetrius de Amaral de Carvalho, gave a presentation to the Council of Ministers on the Second National Communication of Timor-Leste under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Following the ratification of the UNFCCC in October 2006 and the Kyoto protocol in October 2008 and as a member of the UNFCCC, Timor-Leste has the obligation to submit, every four years, the National Communication to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, a report which details national progress and commitments to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The Council of Ministers approved a statement of sorrow for the death of Father João de Deus Pires, deceased on 22 September, at the Guido Valadares National Hospital in Dili. His role will be remembered in the history of Timor-Leste, during the Indonesian occupation, and the Timorese will never forget the altruistic spirit of this missionary and great fighter for the freedom of the Timorese people, with whom he undertook to serve, as a priest and as a humanist. At this moment of so much grief for the religious and the Timorese people in general, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste presents its deepest condolences to the family of the esteemed Father João de Deus, the Catholic Church and the Salesian family of Timor-Leste.

The Minister of Defense, Filomeno da Paixão da Jesus, presented the proposal for deliberation, approved by the Council of Ministers, concerning the integration of members of the F-FDTL in the contingent of the Armed Forces of Portugal to be sent to the Central African Republic, within the framework of the Integrated United Nations Multidimensional Mission for the Stabilization of the Central African Republic (MINUSCA, acronym in French).

The Council of Ministers analyzed the Government resolution, presented by the Acting Minister of Petroleum and Minerals, Agio Pereira and the National Petroleum and Minerals Authority of Timor-LESTE (ANPM), concerning the authorisation for the opening of public tenders for the conclusion of petroleum contracts, in order to carry out research and oil production activities, under the Petroleum Activities Act and the Petroleum Procurement Regulation. The proposal will be analysed again at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The Council of Ministers approved the proposal for a Government resolution conferring on the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, the mandate for the negotiation of Timor-Leste's accession to the World Trade Organization. The Council of Ministers also determined that the Minister will be supported by a delegation with representatives of the Ministries of Legislative Reform and Parliamentary Affairs, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Health, Tourism, Trade and Industry, Agriculture and Fisheries and Petroleum and Minerals.

The Council of Ministers gave full powers to the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Dulce de Jesus Soares, for the signing of a cooperation agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for a project to strengthen science and mathematics in basic education in Timor-Leste, funded by the Government of Japan.

The Minister of Public Works, Salvador Soares dos Reis Pires and the National Procurement Commission of Timor-Leste, presented a proposal for deliberation, approved by the Council of Ministers, for the supply of light fuel to the electricity company of Timor-Leste (EDTL) for the years 2019 and 2020. ENDS

JSMP believes that it is inappropriate to replace a charge of aggravated rape with the crime of sexual abuse against a disabled person

Press Release 08 August 2019

JSMP believes that it is inappropriate to replace a charge of aggravated rape with the crime of sexual abuse against a disabled person

JSMP believes the decision of the Suai District Court in a case of sexual abuse against a disabled victim that was decided on 5 March 2019 was inappropriate because the replacement of the original change resulted in a very lenient penalty against the convicted person even though the court knew that the victim was very vulnerable due to physical and psychological disabilities.

The court failed to explore and consider the relevant facts in this case, and imposed a penalty of only five years in prison. This penalty is not appropriate or proportional to the severity of this crime.
If the court maintained Article 172 of the Penal Code on rape and Article 173 (letra c) of the Penal Code on aggravation, as set out in the charges of the public prosecutor, and assessed the facts and the circumstances appropriately, the court could have ensured a proportional and commensurate sentence in this case. 

This is because the crime of aggravated rape carries a sentence of 5-20 years in prison. The crime of sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance carries a sentence of between 4-12 years in prison.

01 October 2019

East Timorese Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) promotes the rule of law


The East Timorese law and justice civil society organisation, the Judicial System Monitoring Program, has for many years now, always acted to support the rule of law in East Timor like few other CSO's have managed to do.

JSMP has courageously defended the Constitution, made sound criticism of government agents, and kept a very close eye on the Third Pillar of Democracy, the Courts.

With its continual monitoring and reporting of proceedings in all four District Courts, JSMP has created an enormous body of work that contains an historical record of matters before the Courts in East Timor that is not available any where else.

ETLJB wishes to express profoundest solidarity with JSMP, to draw attention to this most vital CSO and congratulate all those who have worked so hard on the program.

Human Rights Defenders Network: We strongly condemn acts of violence against a disabled person and we urge all people to resect and value disabled persons in this nation


Image result for Rede Defensór Direitus Umanus

Rede Defensór Direitus Umanus (RDDU)
Rua: Faról, Dili Karaketu, Timor-Leste
Tel: (+670) 77139641 / 77259858/77402231

Press Release 

Dili, 23 September 2019

Human Rights Defenders Network: We strongly condemn acts of violence against a disabled person and we urge all people to resect and value disabled persons in this nation

The Human Rights Defenders Network (RDDU) is comprised of Civil Society organizations that deal with Human Rights issues. This network exists to carry out monitoring and advocacy in relation to cases involving human right violations that occur in Timor-Leste.

The Human Rights Defenders Network urges all people to respect and uphold the principles and values of human rights that are enshrined in the RDTL Constitution and international treaties adhered to by the State of Timor-Leste. These principles and values need to be put in practice so that no person has the right to discriminate, violate or mistreat any other citizens, including disabled persons, in Timor-Leste.

The RDDU strongly condemns the actions committed by some young people against a lady suffering a disability,  that were shared on social media (Facebook), whereby a group of young people just stood around and stared when two other young people committed acts of violence against this individual who suffers from a psycho-social disability. The RDDU strongly condemns the violent acts committed by students wearing university uniforms against a disabled citizen.

In response to the immoral and violent acts that have violated the rights of another person, in this case a disabled person, the Human Rights Defenders Network urges:

1.      The PNTL, and the criminal investigations unit in particular, to immediately find the perpetrators of the violent acts committed against the disabled person that were shared on social media.

2.      The Public Prosecution Service to promptly investigate the perpetrators who committed these acts against the disabled lady.

3.      The courts to convict those persons who have committed a crime against a disabled citizen in accordance with the applicable law.

4.      The Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice to support this process to identify the perpetrators who committed the offences against the lady who suffers from a psycho-social disability.

5.      The perpetrators who were involved in this act to collaborate and hand themselves in to the PNTL, however if they do not wish to collaborate, then the PNTL is urged to find and arrest the perpetrators to facilitate the investigative process.

6.      All persons to collaborate, especially those who witnessed these acts, to provide information to the PNTL or local authorities, so they can find the perpetrators.

7.      All persons to respect and value the rights of all citizens, including the disabled, in this nation.

8.      The State of Timor-Leste to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as a matter of urgency!

Members of the RDDU:

1.        Hak Association
2.        JSMP (Judicial System Monitoring Program)
3.        ALFeLa (Legal Aid for female and minor victims)
4.        AJAR (Asia Justice and Rights)
5.        Acbit (Asosiasaun Chega Ba Ita)
6.        Codiva
7.        Mahein Foundation (FM)
8.        AHMDTL (TL Association of the Disabled)
9.        Belun
10.    CBRN-TL
11.    Lao Hamutuk
12.    ADTL (Association of the Disabled in Timor-Leste)


Dili, 23 September 2019
Coordinator of RDDU
Inocencio Xavier

Government Decree on the allocation of areas of the territory of Timor-Leste for research and oil production

East Timor Government Coat of Arms ETLJB Warren Leslie Wright
Add caption
Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of 27 September 2019

The Council of Ministers met at the Government Palace in Dili and approved the Government Decree, presented by the Acting Minister of Petroleum and Minerals, Agio Pereira and the National Petroleum and Minerals Authority of Timor-Leste (ANPM), which regulates the procedure concerning the allocation of areas of the territory of Timor-Leste to research and oil production activities.

The analysis of the Government's resolution on the authorisation to open public tenders for the conclusion of petroleum contracts was also continued, with a view to carrying out research and oil production activities under the Law of Petroleum Activities and the Regulation of Petroleum Public Procurement.

Incurable and fatal: African Swine Fever rages in East Timor as hundreds of pigs reported dead


Image of pig in East Timor. Hundreds of pigs die in East Timor from African Swine Fever East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin Warren L. Wright Lawyer Jurist Anthropologist Sociologist
Hundreds of pigs die in East Timor from African Swine Fever
Presidency of the East Timor Council of Ministers Press Office of the Spokesperson

Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of 27 September 2019

The Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Fidelis Leite Magalhães, gave a presentation to the Council of Ministers on the disease that has caused the deaths of hundreds of pigs in the country.

Samples were taken from these animals and sent for laboratory analysis in Australia confirming that these animals suffer from African swine fever.

This disease is highly contagious among animals, not producing effects on humans and has affected several Asian countries.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with the Government of Australia, has taken all necessary measures to limit the effects of this outbreak, for which there is still no remedy, cure or vaccine.


25 September 2019

Members of the LGBTI community in Liquica Municipality feel that they are subjected to discrimination in the family and in society

JUDICIAL SYSTEM MONITORING PROGRAMME PROGRAMA MONITORIZASAUN BA SISTEMA JUDISIÁRIU

Press Release

18 September 2019

Members of the LGBTI community in Liquica Municipality feel that they are subjected to discrimination in the family and in society

On 12 September 2019 the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP), continued to disseminate information to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexual persons community (LGBTI), as well as parents, the disabled and students in Liquica Municipality. 31 participants attended this training.


When JSMP arrived to provide training in Loidahar, the Village Chief recommended for the training to include the disabled and parents. The village chief said that not only members of the LGBTI community face discrimination in the family and in society, but also the disabled face discrimination. Therefore it is important to include parents in this training because they often discriminate against their children who belong to the LGBTI community or who are disabled.

The training was split into two sessions. The first session dealt with democracy, the role of sovereign organs and the law making process, as well as how the public can take part in this process, whilst the second session dealt with access to the formal justice system which included human rights, the justice system in Timor-Leste, types of crimes and procedures.

This training was aimed at increasing the knowledge of the LGBTI community, parents, the disabled and students about democracy, the role of each sovereign organ, how the public can participate in the law making process and access to formal justice. Also, how the participants can pass on the information provided during the training to members of the LGBTI community and other community members, as well as society in general.


"The State has an obligation based on the Constitution and the law to develop policies that ensure the rights of citizens, especially members of the LGBTI community in all sectors, such as the political, economic, social and cultural sectors, as well as access to formal justice. Everyone has the same rights and obligations under the law as set out in Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which has been ratified by the State, as well as Article 16 of the Timor-Leste Constitution. Therefore, the State and the entire community needs to treat all citizens and members of society properly without discriminating against them or prejudicing them based on their sexual orientation", said the Acting Director of JSMP, Casimiro dos Santos.


During the opening session, the Dato Village Chief, Mr. Oscar da Silva, asked the participants to focus on the materials provided by JSMP because they are very important in relation to the experiences of members of the LGBTI community, because often parents discriminate against their children who have a different sexual orientation. On a daily basis members of the LGBTI community face a range of discrimination from the family, community, as well as authorities who are supposed to protect their rights, but in fact their actions are contrary to the principles set out in the law. Also, the Dato village chief further emphasised the participation of members of the LGBTI community in State building, because often they have the capacity to compete for opportunities, especially employment opportunities.

During the training the participants provided feedback and stated that in the community they always hear comments that any man who has a different sexual orientation is appropriating women's rights and they shouldn't live in this society.

The participants also raised the issue of the right to access employment because to date they always face discrimination when they seek employment because public service providers always tell them they can't be employed because they have no role in State building. Therefore, JSMP was asked about its stance on such treatment.

Other issues related to justice, because participants were concerned about decisions in some cases to only impose fines. They asked if this is a type of penalty.


JSMP responded that discrimination against members of the LGBTI community in the family and society is normally related to prejudice in society about the existence of groups with this type of sexual orientation which is considered “taboo” and unacceptable in society. Therefore, to remove such prejudice, it is important to raise awareness through training like this to change such prejudices that exist in the family and society in general.

Meanwhile, in relation to the issue of the right to access employment, JSMP explained that the State has the obligation to protect and promote the rights of all citizens, including the right to access employment without discrimination based on race, colour, sexual orientation, etc as set out in Article 2.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 16 of the Timor-Leste Constitution.  Therefore, when you are discriminated in relation to your rights by State institutions, you can make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) and also the Office of the Public Defender, because this is considered a violation of human rights. Therefore, JSMP's position is clear that violations of human rights are against the principles set out in the ICCPR and the Timor-Leste Constitution or are contrary with the principles of the Democratic Rule of Law.

In relation to the issue of penalty types, JSMP said that first of all Timor-Leste has two types of penalties, namely “main penalties and accessory penalties”. There are four types of main penalties, namely prison sentences, fines, penalty of community service and penalty of admonishment. There are four types of prison sentences, namely pre-trial detention, effective sentences, suspended sentences and alternative punishments. Therefore a fine is one of the penalties available.

This training was supported by the Government of Australia through the Australian Embassy in Timor-Leste together with the international agency Governance for Development (GfD) Australia.

For more information, please contact:

Casimiro dos Santos

Acting Director of JSMP

E-mail: santos.cas76@gmail.com

Website: http://www.jsmp.tl/

04 September 2019

Alarm Rings Again on Infanticide in East Timor


ETLJB has previously published several comments and sources of information on infanticide in East Timor.

The alarm about infanticide continues unabated.

On 22 August 2019 JSMP provided training to members of the village council and community members in Loidahar Village, Liquica Sub-District in Liquica Municipality.

JSMP reported on 29 August 2019, that local residents of Loidahar Village are concerned with issues relating to access to justice: suspended prison sentences, divorce, neglect, infanticide and cases involving members of the Government.

“The participants conveyed their concerns about using violence to educate family members, and that perpetrators of domestic violence have appeared in court but have not been punished and have gone on to repeat their actions, as well as couples getting divorced and neglecting their children, cases of babies being disposed of, as well as members of the sovereign organs being involved in crimes but not being punished.”

JSMP explained that violence should not be used to educate someone, but rather words and other non-violent methods should be used.

On the issue of mothers killing their babies after giving birth but not being punished, JSMP explained that in some cases mothers do not serve a prison sentence. However, in some cases it is very difficult to capture defendants (women and/or men) because it is often difficult to locate the perpetrators.

“In reality community members always blame women, without considering and assessing each case in a detailed and comprehensive fashion,” the report notes.