15 July 2019

East Timor’s Peak Law & Justice CSO demands courts include civil compensation in final decisions

Logo East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Programme Law Justice Warren WrightETLJB 15 July 2019 - East Timor’s peak law and justice civil society organisation, the Judicial System Monitoring Programme, has called on public prosecutors and the courts to include civil compensation in cases involving the crime of rape.

On 29 June 2019 JSMP observed that the Suai District Court convicted a defendant for committing the crime of sexual abuse against the victim, aged 13, and did not order the defendant to pay civil compensation.

"An order for the defendant to pay civil compensation is a way of compelling the defendant to redress the psychological suffering of the victim who has been affected by the actions of the defendant. This provides justice to victims who have suffered psychological pressure, especially in cases of a sexual nature involving minors," said Casimiro dos Santos, Acting Director of JSMP.
The Criminal Procedure Code provide for the right of a victim to obtain civil compensation from a defendant. Article 430 of the Civil Code states that when a victim's suffering relates to violence, civil compensation must be provided. “Therefore, for certain crimes, especially those characterised as rape, defendants must be ordered to pay civil compensation to victims. This article does not provide an option to consider the inclusion of civil compensation, but states that civil compensation must be included,” stated in a press release dated 9 July 2019.

JSMP demands that  prosecutors and judges to include civil compensation in their respective final recommendations and sentences.

“JSMP believes that the prosecutors and the courts have failed in this regard, because they have not been sensitive and have not thoroughly explored the relevant provisions that guarantee the rights of the victim. JSMP has always believed that the approaches used in such cases and the methods of resolution, as well as the sentences applied by the courts in each case, should contribute to deterring other cases from occurring in the future.”

JSMP observed that “in nearly all decisions the courts have not imposed civil compensation in cases involving rape. In its annual report in 2018 JSMP reported that during 2018 there were 25 rape cases where defendants received a prison sentence. From these 25 cases, only in 2 cases the court asked the defendant to pay civil compensation to the victim.”

East Timor Law &Justice Bulletin
Supporting the rule of law in Timor-Leste 

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