Skip to content

Timor-Leste Legal News May 2007 (Part 2)

July 4, 2012

UNMIT Statement: Rogerio Lobato’s Appeal Dismissed – UNMIT has appreciated the orderly unfolding of the judicial process over the past few months in the ongoing case of the Former Minister for Interior, Rogerio Lobato. Justice is a pre-requisite for reconciliation and stability.

Lobato was one of number of individuals who were recommended for investigation and possible prosecution by the Commission of Inquiry Report for his role in the violence that besieged Timor-Leste in April and May last year.

He was sentenced by the Dili District Court on March 7, 2007 to seven and a half years in prison. Immediately following the decision, lawyers for Lobato filed an appeal which was yesterday dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

The head of the United Nations Mission in Timor Leste, Atul Khare has commended all relevant parties involved in the trial of the former Minister for the Interior noting that Lobato submitted voluntarily and peacefully to justice.

Mr Khare expressed his hope that that others including Alfredo Reinado would follow this example. Mr Khare added that the observation of both prosecution and defence to the fundamental principles of the rule of the law bodes well for the future of justice and reconciliation in Timor Leste.

Yesterday’s decision shows that a culture of impunity will not be tolerated in Timor-Leste and that respect for the legal process will lead to the longer term goals of national reconciliation and unity

United Nations police officers (UNPol) provided security at the Court of Appeal in Dili yesterday and also assisted in the transfer of Lobato to Becora Prison later in the day.

UNMIT looks forward to working with the national  authorities to ensuring that all recommendations set forward in the COI report are implemented. UNMIT is mandated through Resolution 1704 to “assist in further strengthening the national institutional and societal capacity and mechanisms for the monitoring, promoting and protecting of human rights and for promoting justice and reconciliation. Statement attributable to UNMIT Spokesperson Allison Cooper. For more information please call +670 7230453.
—–
Dispute on renegade soldier can be settled by law: Timor Leste president Source: Xinhua 11 May 2007 – Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao said here on Friday that he expected the dispute over the settlement of the case of renegade soldier Major Alfredo Reinado could be overcome through legal process. President Gusmao made the statement on his prepared speech at the ceremony of handing over of his position of the highest commander of the Armed Forces of Timor Leste, due to his seeking for re-election for this tiny nation’s prime minister in June.

“He has delivered a petition through his lawyer to me, stressing that he would like to obey the law in Timor Leste,” said Gusmao.

After sacked by controversial former prime minister Mari Alkatiri in last April, Major Alfredo Reinado led 600 descended soldiers for resistance, triggering violence that killed more than 23 people in the capital of Dili and displaced more than 30,000 others.

The violence then sparked to street gang fighting in the new country. The situation then was temporarily quelled after thousands of <http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/data/australia.html>Australian-led multi-national troops’ arrival in Dili.

“He also would like to have a dialogue, and it is hoped that this case could be overcome fairly,”said Gusmao.

The authorities in the country have decided to stop military operation to pursue Reinado. Street-gang fighting, rivalry among the political leaders, and rebellion of security forces, are among the problems hit the nation.
—–
UNMIT Daily Media Review 11 May 2007

Operation on Alfredo still goes on – At a press conference held by UNMIT on Thursday (10/5) in UNMIT HQ Obrigado Barracks, the Special Representative of Secretary General in Timor Leste Atul Khare said that the commander of International Stabilization Forces (ISF) Brigadier Mal Rerden has not halted the operation to capture fugitive Alfredo Reinado.

Mr Khare revealed that the process in halting the operation on capture Reinado could not be done because there is no clear reason for doing so. He said the ISF’s operation to capture fugitive Reinado is continuing. (DN)

Atul Khare: “Police’s task does not ban the Media’s activities” – In response to a question at UNMIT’s weekly press briefing yesterday, the SRSG Atul Khare said the role of the media in Timor Lest is very important. The answer followed the question about police interference against the media at a Primary School in Aituri Laran, Lahane Dili. The SRSG said it was the role of the media to collect and provide detailed information for all the people of Timor Leste. He added that UNPol provides security in accordance with voting laws and they do not ban the activity of the media. (DN)

Horta asking UN to handle the legislative election – After handing the Ambulance from Kuwait over Timor Leste on Thursday 10/5) in Dili port, East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta said that he will ask for United Nations (UN) to assist in providing technical support for the parliamentary elections. He revealed that ahead of the parliamentary election on 30 June, he will consult with other political parties on the role that the UN should play. STL)

Rogerio imprisoned in Becora jail for 7 and half years – The Court of Appeal in Dili has ruled on the final decision in the case of Rogerio Tiago Lobato. The president of court of appealed, Claudio Ximenes mentioned that Lobato has been sentenced for seven and a half years. (DN and TP)
—–
East Timor’s former Interior Minister has begun a seven year jail sentence for his role in last year’s violent unrest. ABC Radio Australia Last Updated 11/05/2007, 11:25:01 – Three District Court judges dismissed Rogerio Lobato’s appeal against a conviction for the manslaughter of five people, killed with weapons that Lobato had illegally supplied to a civilian militia group.

The former minister has been under house arrest since last year, awaiting the court’s decision. It is understood he will serve his sentence in Dili’s Becora Jail.
—–
UNMIT Daily Media Review 8 May 2007

Court of Appeal, Judgment on Rogerio’s case is on the way – The Secretary Intern Administration of the Court of Appeal, Maria de Fatima, told journalists on Monday (7/5) that the Court of Appeal will soon announce the date of judgment on ex-interior minister Rogerio Tiago Lobato.

Today State declares ways of solving Alfredo’s case – The high-level meeting held on Monday (7/5) publicly raised too many questions about the case of fugitive Alfredo Reinado. Today however, (8/4) the President of the Republic, Kayrala Xanana Gusmão, will declare the way in resolving Alfredo’s Case. The meeting was composed of the President of Republic Kayrala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta with his two vices, Commander of ISF Brigadier Mal Rerden, Commander of F-FDTL Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, Prosecutor general Longuinhos Monteiro, vice president of national parliament Jacob Fernandes, SRSG Atul Khare and DSRSG Fin Rieske Nielsen. (TP)
—–
UN turns blind eye to use of Timor brothels The Age Lindsay Murdoch, Dili May 7, 2007 – UNITED Nations police and civilian staff are openly violating what the UN promised would be a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual abuse and misconduct in deeply religious East Timor.

Expatriates in Dili say a dozen brothels have recently opened in the city, with UN vehicles parked outside most nights. Teenage Timorese prostitutes gather just before dusk opposite a hotel on Dili’s waterfront, where UN vehicles can be seen picking them up.

“It’s disgusting … these people who have supposedly come here to help the Timorese are abusing these poor girls,” says an Australian mechanic drinking in the hotel’s second-floor bar, where he observes the scene every night.

One of the brothels is employing a dozen ethnic-Chinese prostitutes, expatriates say.

A UN employee told The Age that the world body was turning a blind eye to prostitution by its employees. “The so-called zero tolerance policy includes prostitution, but nothing is being done stop it,” she said.

UN employees, who come from 40 countries, have also brought dangerous driving to East Timor as it struggles to recover from last year’s violent upheaval. UN vehicles have been involved in 80 single-vehicle accidents since March, some of them apparently involving drink-driving.

Atul Khare, an Indian diplomat heading the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste told UN staff last week that he was “shocked and distressed” by UN drivers’ behaviour. “We are guests in this country, and we are present here to help the people recover from the trauma of conflict and not to perpetuate it,” he said.

When the UN Security Council established the mission in August last year, Sukehiro Hasegawa, then the top UN official in Dili, promised a crackdown on behaviour of UN personnel.

In New York, the UN had just received an internal report exposing a culture that had covered up perverted and outrageous behaviour by UN staff in East Timor over years.

The report revealed peacekeepers left behind at least 20 babies they had fathered to poverty-stricken Timorese women. Those women are now stigmatised and in some cases ostracised by their communities.

It also revealed sexual abuse of children and bestiality. Since 1999, when UN personnel first arrived in East Timor, not one employee has been charged with a serious offence.

Allison Cooper, the UN spokeswoman in Dili, told The Age that the mission was strictly enforcing the zero-tolerance policy towards any misconduct and had set up a special internal investigation unit.

The unit had received two reports of sexual abuse by UN employees but had closed investigations because of a lack of evidence, Ms Cooper said. UN police have begun setting up alcohol breath-testing checkpoints around Dili.

Of 26 UN members breath-tested at a checkpoint last week near a nightclub, four tested positive. Three vehicles and two weapons were impounded.

Ms Cooper said those who tested positive had been suspended from driving UN vehicles pending final investigations.

More than 1600 UN police and about 500 civilian UN employees serve in the mission.

About 1000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers in an Australian-commanded International Security Force are not permitted to drink alcohol or to socialise outside their barracks.
—–
The following earlier articles have been included here as background to the reports immediately above and below on misconduct of UN personnel in East Timor.
—–
Diggers in Timor ‘sex’ clash Mark Dodd The Australian March 21, 2005 – AUSTRALIAN soldiers drew arms to protect themselves from Jordanian peacekeepers after a Digger blew the whistle on other Jordanian soldiers’ sexual abuse of East Timorese boys.

Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the pedophilia that occurred in May 2001.

The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the later betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

Corporal Wratten, who was working at a fuel dump in the enclave, was told by a group of children that Jordanian soldiers had offered food and money in exchange for oral sex and intercourse.

The allegations involved East Timorese minors, all boys, the youngest of them just 12 years old.

“Wratten informed PKF (peacekeeping force) that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt (Jordan Battalion) abuse,” said a senior UN official who was based in Oecussi at the time.

“A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo (helicopter) refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened.

“There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jor-batt M-16s pointed at Aussies.”

A secret report into the abuse, obtained by The Australian, led to the expulsion of two Jordanian peacekeepers after an investigation ordered by then UNTAET chief, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, in July 2001.

East Timorese human rights workers have confirmed the story. However, retired Australian major-general Roger Powell, the deputy UN force commander at the time, did not return The Australian’s calls.

“As far as I understand, De Mello was very sensitive at the time to the harm such reports would have on the reputation of UNTAET, PKF – and by default himself,” said one Western security analyst, based in East Timor in 2001.

Jordan’s key role in Middle East peace negotiations added extra sensitivity.

In July 2001, a UN police specialist child interview team flew to Oecussi and spoke to 10 witnesses, including seven minors and three adults.

“The unacceptable sexual conduct alleged was that a minor had sperm around his mouth,” the resulting report says.

The board of inquiry found in its report that Jordanian troops regularly offered food and money in exchange for sexual favours from women and boys, including the procuring of prostitutes from across the border in West Timor.

It found it was highly probable that widespread sexual misconduct had occurred after the Jordanians took over from the highly regarded Australian paratroop battalion in early 2000. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,12607859%5E2702,00.html
—–
UN acts at last on sex crimes in Timor Sydney Morning Herald – August 30, 2006  – Lindsay Murdoch, Dili – For years the United Nations tried to cover up perverted and outrageous behaviour by uniformed and civilian personnel who have served in East Timor since 1999.

But as a new wave of more than 2000 UN-employed police and staff prepare to travel to the capital Dili, Sukehiro Hasegawa, the top UN official in East Timor, has acknowledged for the first time that the UN system failed to bring anybody to justice for crimes that included sexual abuse of children and bestiality.

Dr Hasegawa declared that the UN’s Integrated Mission in East Timor, which officially became operational on Monday, would enforce a “zero tolerance” policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse committed by uniformed and civilian UN personnel.

He said several UN staff would be employed solely to enforce the policy, which will include briefings for all staff at which “they will be made aware of the consequences of any activity they may carry out that could blacken the authority of the United Nations”.

Dr Hasegawa, a special representative of the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said the UN “places a great deal of importance” on the efforts to prevent the abuse of East Timorese. The latest mission will be made up of 1608 international police, including 130 Australians, 34 military liaison officers and about 500 civilian staff.

Among deeply religious East Timorese, the behaviour of a small number of the 18,000 UN personnel from 113 countries who have served in the country in the past was spoken about only in whispers.

But the UN establishment in New York was shocked when it received an internal report last month exposing a culture that covered up behaviour that enraged many UN staff, several of whom resigned in disgust.

The report revealed that peacekeepers left behind at least 20 babies they had fathered to poverty-stricken Timorese women who are now “stigmatised” and in some cases “ostracised” by their communities.

It revealed that one UN peacekeeper from an unnamed country sexually abused two boys and two girls in the enclave of Oecussi. In early 2001, two Jordanian soldiers were evacuated home with injured penises after attempting sexual intercourse with goats.

The report warned that the UN’s credibility can be “seriously compromised” by its inability to ensure prosecutions of UN personnel who commit sex crimes.

A resolution passed last Friday by the UN Security Council, which established the integrated mission, urged countries sending personnel to East Timor to conduct pre-deployment awareness training about sexual exploitation and abuse of the local population.

It also urged countries to “take disciplinary action and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel”.
—–
Hushed rape of Timor Mark Dodd March 26, 2005 The Australian – IT caused outrage among East Timorese and Australian troops sent to protect them, raised tensions among UN peacekeepers to a deadly new level and caused senior UN staff to resign in disgust.

The deployment of Jordanian peacekeepers to East Timor was probably one of the most contentious UN decisions to follow the bloody independence ballot. It was eclipsed only by the cover-up and inaction that followed when the world body learned of their involvement in a series of horrific sex crimes involving children living in the war-battered Oecussi enclave.

Children were not the only victims – in early 2001, two Jordanians were evacuated home with injured penises after attempting sexual intercourse with goats.

The UN mission in East Timor led by Sergio Vieira de Mello (who was later killed in Baghdad) did its best to keep the matter hushed up. The UN military command at the time was only too happy to oblige.

Today the cry for justice from the child victims continues to go unheard.

With the UN battered by a series of allegations embroiling its Nobel Prize-winning peacekeepers in a web of global sexual misconduct, new details have emerged of widespread sexual abuse against the civilian population by the Jordanian soldiers in Oecussi.

The findings are contained in a secret report by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, a copy of which has been obtained by Inquirer. It determines that Jordanian peacekeepers routinely sexually abused young East Timorese boys in return for money and food. Witnesses interviewed by UN investigators also claim Jordanian involvement in several alleged rapes of boys and women. The report contains witness testimony, much of it too graphic to repeat in this newspaper. And it concludes that, with the help of Indonesian soldiers, Jordanian blue berets routinely procured the services of prostitutes from across the border in West Timor.

Not contained in the report are subsequent claims of an armed stand-off between Australian soldiers and the Jordanians after a digger blew the whistle on the abuse.

One of the most poignant moments in East Timor’s troubled recent history occurred in 2000 when scores of tearful villagers lined the seafront in the shattered provincial capital of the Oecussi enclave to farewell the Australian paratroop battalion. Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, had come to serve and protect the Timorese. Many of them were sorrowful that day, anxious about the future welfare of the locals.

There was rising apprehension about the new UN protectors – a Jordanian peacekeeping battalion that, like the recently departed Indonesians, was Muslim, a cause of considerable concern within the small, staunchly Christian enclave. Sadly, during the ensuing months, the fears would prove well founded. Two Jordanian soldiers were eventually sent home in disgrace – but for the victims the experience has left a legacy of anger and bewilderment.

“The expectations of everyone, including the people of Oecussi, was that those involved in committing these acts would face justice,” says East Timor’s Social Welfare Minister Arsenio Bano.

Spurred by international outrage, an Australian-led international force, Interfet, landed in East Timor in September 1999 to restore law and order in the bloody post-ballot shambles that had engulfed the former Portuguese colony. Logistical constraints and operational orders to avoid armed confrontation with Indonesian troops meant the diggers arrived late to liberate Oecussi.

But in October, fresh from operations in the high border country around Bobanaro, 3RAR’s paras deployed to Oecussi. They found a population still traumatised by the horrific murder of 56 people at Passabe village. Departing militia and Indonesian soldiers had ensured that what little infrastructure existed in the enclave had been destroyed or carted off across the border. For the villagers, the arrival of the Australians must have seemed like manna from heaven.

Aggressive anti-militia patrols during the ensuing months soon helped forge strong bonds with the community and an equally steady stream of shrill complaints by Jakarta of Australian heavy-handedness. Not only did the paratroops provide the isolated and vulnerable enclave with a shield against the return of murderous pro-Jakarta militia, they also helped restore their shattered faith for men in uniform.

But in early 2000 the diggers were ordered to pack up and leave to make way for the new Jordanian contingent. In reality, Canberra had told the UN it was unwilling to continue to garrison the enclave.

The only UN troop contributor nation prepared to send its soldiers there was Jordan. Its offer was quickly accepted by defence planners who thought the presence of Muslim blue berets along the enclave’s porous border would help calm tensions with Jakarta.

It did not have the desired outcome. The deployment got off to a woeful start. Apart from a handful of competent officers, the Jordanians were poorly prepared and resourced. At one point Australian UNTAET military commander Mike Smith threatened to cut their UN allowances unless they got their act together.

Stories soon began to filter back to Dili of Jordanian troops making unwanted sexual advances on local women and minors, both boys and girls. East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta became so concerned about their behaviour that he threatened to hold a news conference but backed down after being told by UNTAET that no other nation would go there.

Then in May 2001 Australian Corporal Wayne Andrew Wratten, who was working at a fuel depot in the enclave, formally complained to his superiors of a disturbing series of sexual abuse allegations involving the Jordanians. Wratten said he had been approached by five East Timorese boys who claimed Jordanian soldiers had offered them food and money in exchange for oral sex and intercourse.

UNTAET convened an inquiry but, in the meantime, details of the allegations had been leaked back to the Jordanians and tensions were on the rise.

“Wratten informed PKF [peacekeeping force] that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt [Jordan battalion],” said a senior UN official based in Oecussi at the time.

“A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo [helicopter] refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened. There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jorbatt M-16s pointed at Aussies.”

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the incident involving loaded rifles occurred in late May.

“The Aussies began to refuse to refuel Jorbatt vehicles, harsh words were exchanged and then it was guns up. Wratten was then evacuated and two or three close protection guys were flown down,” he said.

Senior Australian army officers at the time contacted by Inquirer say they cannot recall the incident. However, East Timorese and UN human rights workers have confirmed the story, and Bano says he was also told of the stand-off.

A former senior Australian army commander agreed that tensions had risen in the enclave, requiring a “great deal of sensitivity” to manage the situation.

Meanwhile, a UN police specialist child interview team was sent to Oecussi between July 5 and July 9 to investigate the claims and spoke to 10 witnesses, including seven minors and three adults. The allegations involved East Timorese minors, all boys, the youngest of them just 12.

The police inquiry also noted the limited amount of time it was given by the military-dominated board of inquiry for its mission.

“The unacceptable sexual conduct alleged was that a minor had sperm around his mouth,” the report says.

It names two Jordanian soldiers, Mohamed Al-Drabseh and Ibrahim Al-Otoum, as the likely perpetrators.

Investigators heard graphic stories of demands by Jordanian soldiers for sex with other boys in exchange for bread and money: “Witness Francisco alleged that he was asked several times by Jordanian soldiers if he wanted anal intercourse or oral intercourse.

“[Francisco] alleged that the soldiers from Jorbatt3 would ask for women with whom they could have sexual intercourse,” says the report signed July 13, 2001, by Zdenka Pumper, team leader.

It draws attention to the vulnerability of East Timorese children and says in a chilling general observation: “Two of the [witnesses] interviewed could very well be victims themselves. They are too scared to tell the truth about their real experience in the hands of the Jordanians.

“One [witness] who was a victim himself was physically manhandled by the Jordanian soldier when the latter later tried to have sexual intercourse with him. This [witness], because of his harrowing experience, immediately told his friends about his experience and he even showed them sperm on his stomach soon after he was released by the Jordanian soldier.”

A senior UN human rights official, who cannot be named, tells Inquirer that the Jordanian colonel on the board of inquiry “betrayed any sense of objectivity” by bribing or cajoling witnesses into silence with cash or food inducements. And senior UN officials in Dili warned UN staff that their contracts could be terminated or not renewed if they spoke about the investigation to the media.

Today the incident and others that are alleged to have occurred in East Timor remain a matter of great sensitivity. UN officials at the time are reluctant to talk about it while retired army officers cite failing memory. Two Jordanian soldiers were sent home in disgrace, but the overwhelming impression is of an inquiry that only began to scratch the surface.

Jordan was too valuable an ally in its contribution to the Middle East peace process to alienate. “As far as I understand, de Mello was very sensitive at the time to the harm such reports would have on the reputation of UNTAET, PKF and, by default, himself,” said a Western security analyst based in East Timor in 2001.

“As for the quality of the investigation, it was just enough to warrant action being taken but not enough to truly expose the bullshit and get some sense of justice for crimes committed.”
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,12655192%255E2703,00.html
—–
Anger at UN drink driving in Timor The Australian Monday, May 7, 2007 Stephen Fitzpatrick, Dili – UN staff in East Timor have been severely reprimanded and had an 11pm curfew imposed in an attempt to wipe out rampant drink driving.

One foreign employee has resigned and been sent home after allegedly drunkenly assaulting police when she was stopped while driving erratically in the capital, Dili. A furious head of mission, Indian diplomat Atul Khare, warned staff in a confidential memo last week: “We are GUESTS in this country and we are present here to help the people recover from the trauma of conflict, not to perpetuate it.”

Up to six UN workers have been caught drink driving since random breath testing began last week. Two were foreign police officers, who returned blood alcohol readings significantly above 0.05.

It is understood none of the offenders was Australian. About 2000 UN staff serve in East Timor – about 1700 are police from countries including Australia, and the rest bureaucrats.

UN staff caught drink driving face immediate three-month suspensions of their UN driving licences for a first offence, and longer for subsequent offences. Other than the employee who resigned, however, none of those caught in the past week has been sacked or stood down.

“The staffer who resigned left East Timor on Saturday,” UNMIT spokeswoman Allison Cooper said yesterday.

Alcohol and drug abuse among the East Timorese population has been identified as at the heart of many of the tiny nation’s recent troubles, with violent drunken gangs taking out their frustrations on each other and the property of political opponents.

But Mr Khare’s clampdown is the first acknowledgement the UN mission might also be contributing to the problem.

Mr Khare told staff that since March 1, there had been more than 80 traffic accidents where UNMIT vehicles were the only ones involved, and that “the frequency of accidents has been increasing significantly”.

A three-hour RBT sweep last Sunday night netted three UN staffers driving over the limit and one who refused to take a breath test. Three vehicles and two weapons were seized, and seven non-UN staff members were found travelling in UN vehicles against regulations.

Two more staffers were caught drink driving on Saturday night after the 11pm curfew.

Mr Khare’s desperate memo called on his staff to respect “the basic driving rules and concepts of road safety (which) are similar in all countries”.

But many staff with the UN mission regard East Timor, and Dili in particular, as being largely lawless territory.
—–
UNMIT ­ MEDIA MONITORING Friday, 4 May 2007

UNPol presented Sarmento-Somoco’s Case to the general prosecutor – The case of the Minister of Justice, Domingos Sarmento and Vice Minister of Interior, Agostinho Sequeira Samoco, has been presented to the prosecutor general by UNPol. The spokesperson of UNPol, Monica Rodriguez said that weapons, Rama Ambons and cash (US$5.000) found by Australian forces in the possession of the campaign team of presidential candidate Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo in Ermera were presented to the prosecutor general of republic in the last few days.

“It is true that the case concerning the electoral campaign of presidential candidate Lu-Olo in Ermera is now under investigation and has been presented to the general prosecutor, for further information please contact the prosecutor general,” explained Monica via phone on Thursday (3/5). (STL)

The General Prosecutor: no comment on Railos’ case – The prosecutor general, Longuinhos Monteiro did not want to comment on the case of ex secret armed commander of Fretilin Vicente da Conceição Railos. “We have no time to comment publicly on Railos because the prosecutor general has too many tasks,” said Longuinhos through his secretary via the phone on Thursday (3/5). (TP)

F-FDTL will be deployed at the national hospital – The vice Minister of Health, Luis Lobato speaking to the journalists on Thursday (3/5) in the National Hospital (HNGV), Bidau Dili, said that the government is planning to deploy F-FDTL in the HNGV to provide security to the doctors, nurses and patients. “We have security provided by UNPol and ISF (New Zealand). I think we will deploy F-FDTL in HNGV if there is no ultimate solution for this matter,” said Luis. (STL and DN)

Leandro blames Fretilin Leaders supporting ISF Operation to Capture Reinado – The member of national parliament and supporter of fugitive Alfredo Reinado Leandro Isaac, accused Fretilin of giving major support to the operation of the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) to capture Alfredo Reinado and his men. Moreover, the operation only persists thanks to this support. Leandro admired the declaration of president of republic Xanana Gusmão and Prime Minister Jose Ramos  Horta to halt the operation. Leandro said that Fretilin, through its leaders, such as president of national parliament Lu-Olo and vice of Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva, have always been against halting the operation on Alfredo and there is no agreement in the high level committee about this matter. “I would cease the operation now, however Estanislau and Lu-Olo reject this on the grounds that there is no agreement to halt the operation. The operation is also supported by the majority of the members of national parliament after ISF attacked to Alfredo’s camp in Same in last two month,” said Leandro on Tuesday (01/5) in Same-Manufahi. (TP)

Alfredo occupies strategic sites across Timor-Leste – The member of national parliament Leandro Isaac reportedly said that the fugitive Alfredo Reinado Alves has occupied all the strategic sites across the country. In response to the strategic places mentioned, Leandro stated that 80% of the strategic places are in the west region; however he doesn’t know the other strategic places in the eastern region. Leandro revealed that after the raid by ISF on Sunday (4/3) in Same, about 70-80 members of Alfredo’s group fled with 30 automatic weapons. (TP)

Railos: “I am the militia that was formed by Fretilin” – In response to the declaration of presidential candidate Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo that he is a militiaman, Vicente da Conceição Railos said that he agreed with Lu-Olo’s statement. “…Last year, Fretilin distribbuted weapons to us to kill and intimidate people. People in Liquica recognize me as a member of a group of terrorists, not just a group of militiamen,” said Railos via mobile yesterday (3/5). (STL)
—–
The Right to Vote Judicial System Monitoring Program Justice Update 01 May 2007

The first round of the presidential elections saw a high voter turnout, but a number of citizens were denied the right to vote. These included the 255 individuals in detention in one of the three prisons of Timor Leste, a number of in-patients in hospitals too ill to attend polling stations, and an unknown number of individuals who have been unjustly identified as “mentally ill”. The right to vote is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Timor Leste (Art 47) and in international instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Art 25). JSMP is of the opinion that the relevant State bodies should have facilitated the exercise by all these individuals of their right to vote and urges them to attend to this issue without delay.

I : The Law

Section 47 of the Constitution of the Republic of Timor Leste (CRDTL) provides that:

1. Every citizen over the age of seventeen has the right to vote and to be elected.
2. The exercise of the right to vote is personal and constitutes a civic duty.

Section 32, paragraph 4 adds that:

Persons who are subjected, on conviction, to a sentence or a security measure involving loss of freedom remain entitled to their fundamental rights, subject to the limitations that necessarily derive from that conviction and from the requirements for its enforcement. (emphasis added)

The terms of the law 7/2006 on the election of the President of the Republic are:

Article 5
Active electoral disability

The following are not granted active electoral capacity:

a) Individuals judicially disabled due to a sentence imposed by a court of law;
b) Individuals clearly and publicly known as mentally ill even where they are not judicially disabled.

II : Persons in detention

1) Preventive detention

Persons in preventive detention are considered innocent until proven guilty and there is thus no legal basis upon which to deprive them of their fundamental rights. They still hold the right to vote. A right that is impossible to exercise is a right denied. It is the duty of the State to ensure that a right enshrined in the Constitution can be exercised, in this instance through making voting facilities available inside prisons. As the organ of the State with the mandate to determine the number and location of polling stations, JSMP urges the Secretariado Técnico de Administração Eleitoral (STAE) to make arrangements for voting (at least by those in preventive detention) to be carried out in prisons in the second round of the Presidential elections and in the Parliamentary elections. This can be done through the addition of new polling stations, or by creating mobile units from existing polling stations.

The argument that STAE may be accused of misconduct by adding to the number of possible voters compared to the first round cannot be countenanced since it is merely a necessary measure of improvement in the polling procedures in the same way that other adjustments are being made in response to lessons learned in the first round.

Voter registration does not either present a relevant counter-argument, since most of the prisoners were given the opportunity to register on the electoral roll, or hold old voting cards.

2) Sentenced Prisoners

a) International practice

A survey of different jurisdictions and case law from around the world reveals a range of approaches to the question of restricting the voting rights of sentenced prisoners. The main conditions for a law governing this to be considered fair are:

such restriction should be known in advance, including by the individual affected;

they should not curtail the right to vote to such an extent as to “impair its very essence and deprive it of effectiveness”;

criteria for disqualification should be clearly laid down in the law and not be subject to arbitrary or discretionary decision;

they should be imposed in pursuit of a legitimate aim;

and the means employed for disqualification must not be disproportionate.

In general, international practice seems to be evolving towards fewer permissible restrictions on the right to vote.[1]

While JSMP would concede that Law 7/2006 fulfils these criteria in broad terms, it is also of the opinion that an evolving jurisdiction such as that of East Timor should strive toward a progressive interpretation of international human rights standards. Consequently, JSMP feels that sentenced criminals should maintain the right to vote except where a sentence specifically provides for the loss of civic rights.

b) The Domestic Framework

Article 5 of the Law on the Election of the President of the Republic (Law 7/2006) takes an unduly strict approach to the restriction of the right to vote, implying that any convicted criminal should forfeit voting rights.

By contrast, the RDTL Constitution enshrines the right to vote in its broadest form, subject to the necessary limitations. Arguably, the restriction of the right to vote laid down in the Law on Election of President is not strictly necessary. The enforcement of the right to vote does not require any alteration to a conviction, or any action to impede the enforcement of a sentence. In other words, Art 5 of Law 7/2006 is disproportionately restrictive when read in the light of the Constitution.

Furthermore, on comparison with the Portuguese electoral law for presidential elections (see annex), on which the Timorese law is based, the ambiguous formulation of Art 5(a) of Law 7/2006 becomes clearer. In the Portuguese law, if paragraph (a) (which is identical to Art 5 (a) Law 7/2006) were intended to impose a blanket restriction of voting rights on every individual upon whom a judicial sentence has been imposed, there would be no need for paragraph (c) (non-existant in Law 7/2006) which prescribes that persons who are deprived of their political rights by a formal judicial decision lose their electoral capacity. It emerges that the meaning of the common paragraph (a), “Individuals judicially disabled due to a sentence imposed by a court of law” in fact refers to those individuals (not necessarily prisoners), who have been declared legally disabled by a judicial decision.  Not every sentenced detainee has been declared legally disabled.

Since no other provision of Timorese law gives any more detail on conditions for the restriction of electoral capacity, as would be required both by international standards on legal clarity and by Article 24 of the RDTL Constitution (see Annex), it follows that no person in detention in Timor Leste should be deprived of his or her right to vote on the grounds that they have received a sentence decided by a court of law.

Consequently, in JSMP’s view the State has failed in its duty to protect and implement the fundamental right to vote of its citizens in omitting to provide voting facilities in prisons during the first round of the presidential elections. JSMP hopes that this issue will be resolved in time for the second round of voting.

III : Persons “clearly and publicly known as mentally ill”

Restricting the civic rights of individuals deemed “unsound of mind” is a common feature of most legal systems. As in the case of minors, society judges that an individual of “unsound mind” is unable to make sufficiently informed decisions and choices to administer his or her own affairs, or to take part in civic life. It is imperative, however, that the determination of a person’s mental ability is subject to close scrutiny, and based on as objective criteria as possible. Against this standard, the sweeping provision in Art 5(b) of Law No. 7/2006 is completely unacceptable. A provision that leaves the determination of an individual’s state of mental health up to “clear and public knowledge” allows for numerous abuses and does not have a place in a modern judicial system.

Another comparison between the Timorese and Portuguese versions of the law reveals that the Timorese clause has been truncated, rendering it devoid of legal credibility. The Portuguese law provides that individuals may lose their electoral capacity if they are “clearly and publicly known as mentally ill, even where they are not judicially disabled” if, and only if, they are either interned in a psychiatric establishment, or if they are declared as such by a board of two doctors. Clearly, this leaves only three options for depriving a person of their right to vote due to mental disability:

*  A formal judgment specifically rendering them judicially incapable;
*  Internment in a psychiatric institution, or
*  A concordant medical opinion by at least two doctors.

It does not allow for an estranged relative or a disgruntled neighbour to successfully petition for the recognition that someone is mentally disabled.

It could be argued that the state of medical services in East Timor makes it complicated to apply these criteria in a uniform manner throughout the country, but JSMP feels strongly that in such circumstances, it is preferable to err on the side of caution and restrict the right to vote as little as possible. The risk of harm incurred by the law as it stands is far greater than the harm that may arise from allowing a few people with mental disabilities to vote. The numbers involved cannot be sufficient to affect the outcome of a poll, so there is no justification for keeping such an open determination of mental disability as is currently in force. Therefore, JSMP would like to see a revision of the law restricting the right to vote of the mentally disabled to make it precise and objectively verifiable. JSMP would like to add that this is an area of law that has not been addressed yet in legislation and is in need of more thorough scrutiny.

IV: Hospital in-patients

People who suffer from illness or injury that renders them bed-ridden, but who remain sound of mind, still possess the right to vote. As was pointed out above, a right that is impossible or disproportionately difficult to exercise is equivalent to a right denied. In the first round of the presidential elections, no facilities were provided for hospital in-patients, or other voters physically unable to travel to a polling station to vote, thus denying their right to do so.
Many countries’ electoral law makes provisions for mobile voting. This is a commendable measure, but may be a stretch on already limited resources for electoral logistics in Timor, if it had to be applied to every hospital or clinic in the country. However, it is quite possible for STAE to implement a mobile voting system for any hospital or clinic where more than 10 people are concerned for instance. JSMP would welcome the implementation of such a system as soon as possible.

V: Timorese citizens abroad

Article 22 of the CRDTL states that “East Timorese citizens who are or live overseas shall enjoy protection by the State for the exercise of their rights and shall be subject to duties not incompatible with their absence from the country”. There is therefore no reason why there should not be facilities for expatriated citizens to vote, including a similar method to people who are physically unable to reach a polling station, discussed above. JSMP accepts that adequate information and registration systems on citizens residing abroad may not yet be in place, and understands that the Republic of East Timor cannot have diplomatic representations in every country. However, JSMP considers that the absence of such facilities is something that must be attended to before the next elections, in 2012.

VI: Conclusion

JSMP commends the electoral administration bodies and the Timorese people for the smooth running of the first round of the presidential election, but maintains that there is room for improvement in certain areas. One of these is the uniform and truly equal application of the right to vote for all citizens. JSMP looks forward to monitoring the developments in this field of law.

ANNEX

Portuguese Law on the election of the President
Decree-Law 319-A/76 – 3 May

Article 3
Electoral incapacities

1 – …
2 – The The following are also not granted active electoral capacity:
a) Individuals judicially disabled due to a sentence imposed by a court of law;
b) Individuals clearly and publicly known as mentally ill even where they are not judicially disabled, if they are committed in a psychiatric institution or if they are declared as such by a board of two doctors;
c) Individuals who have been deprived of their political rights by a formal judicial decision.

Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste
Section 21
(Disabled citizens)

1. A disabled citizen shall enjoy the same rights and shall be subject to the same duties as all other citizens, except for the rights and duties which he or she is unable to exercise or fulfil due to his or her disability.

2. The State shall promote the protection of disabled citizens as may be practicable and in accordance with the law.

Section 22
(East Timorese citizens overseas)

East Timorese citizens who are or live overseas shall enjoy protection by the State for the exercise of their rights and shall be subject to duties not incompatible with their absence from the country.

Section 23
(Interpretation of fundamental rights)

Fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution shall not exclude any other rights provided for by the law and shall be interpreted in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Section 24
(Restrictive laws)

1. Restriction of rights, freedoms and guarantees can only be imposed by law in order to safeguard other constitutionally protected rights or interests and in cases clearly
provided for by the Constitution.

2. Laws restricting rights, freedoms and guarantees have necessarily a general and abstract nature and may not reduce the extent and scope of the essential contents of constitutional provisions and shall not have a retroactive effect.

[1] (See Legislation online <http://www.legislationline.org/&gt; for international jurisprudence and IDEA’s “International Election Standards, Guidelines for Reviewing the Legal Framework of Elections” <http://www.idea.int/publications/ies/&gt;)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Dra. Zoe Leffler International Volunteer at Legal Researcher Unit, JSMP Email : zoe.leffler@gmail.com Or  Contact to Dr. Timotio de Deus  Director, JSMP Telephone: 332 3883 Email: timotio@jsmp.minihub.org
—–
LH on draft laws for petroleum restructure in TL – The Timor-Leste government is restructuring its regulation of the petroleum sector, including creating a national oil company and a National Council on Energy Policy.  In addition, the RDTL/Australia Timor Sea Designated Authority (TSDA) will become a Timor-Leste government agency as envisioned by the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty. In late March 2007, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Minerals and Energy Policy circulated three proposed decree-laws on these topics for a 15-day public consultation. The laws were available only in Portuguese and the time was very short, so La’o Hamutuk and others protested that the “consultation” was not designed to receive public input. La’o Hamutuk also made a 9-page substantive submission (see http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/PetRegime/Restruc/07RestructLH.htm ), whose main points are:

* This LH submission only discusses general issues, as time is too short to provide detailed analysis. The time, notice, language and media used for this public consultation make it impossible to get meaningful input from Timor-Leste’s population or outside experts, and the consultation should be extended or re-opened.

* Major legislation should not be enacted during a social and political crisis or just before a national election. There is no reason these decree-laws need to be passed in such a rushed manner.  A newly-elected government may change these new structures, and their adoption should be delayed until people have the time and information to focus on them, rather than undermining democratic principles by enacting them before the election, without Parliamentary approval.

* These draft laws prioritize money for “economic agents” above the needs and rights of our population, and appear designed to benefit businesses and people in rich countries more than Timor-Leste’s citizens.

* If enacted, these draft laws will endanger our environment and make it difficult for Timor-Leste to explore options for clean, renewable energy.

* These draft laws excessively concentrate power in one ministry, thereby risking corruption, abuse of power and maladministration. The oversight powers of the National Council on Energy Policy are ambiguously defined. Placing energy policy and the national oil company under the direction of the same people responsible for ensuring the flow of oil revenues (more than 90% of government income) is a structural conflict of interest which will reduce the priority of non-revenue concerns.

* These draft laws totally fail to implement the Government’s stated commitment to transparency and accountability (including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative), and could undermine existing steps toward adopting these principles. These draft laws allow conflicts of interest and contain almost no safeguards against corruption.

* The National Petroleum Regulatory Authority (ARNP) violates the Petroleum Fund Act’s requirement that all Government revenues from petroleum activities be deposited directly into the Petroleum Fund.

* National oil companies, which La’o Hamutuk supports in principle, bring risks as well as benefits, since they are not accountable to outside investors, other governments, or stock exchange rules. The proposed national oil company (PETROTIL) statutes contain no protection against the dangers.

In mid-April, La’o Hamutuk was informed unofficially that the time for submissions has been extended, and that the Government has accepted our recommendation for more time for discussion. It now appears that these bills will not be finalized at least until July, after the Parliamentary election. Several Timorese government officials told La’o Hamutuk that they appreciated our input, as it helped them advocate for a more open process during internal discussions.

La’o Hamutuk has posted the draft laws, announcement, and other information at http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/PetRegime/Restruc/07RestructIndex.htm.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: