Timor-Leste Legal News February 2008 (Part 2)
Blast rocks Australian troop base February 8, 2008 5:53AM The Age An explosion has shaken an Australian troop base in East Timor, one day after rebel fugitive Alfredo Reinado and his followers fired shots near International Stabilisation Force (ISF) troops. The explosion occurred at Camp Phoenix, in central Dili, shortly after 8pm local time Thursday. Camp Phoenix houses elements of the ISF, which includes Australian and New Zealand defence personnel.
The ISF said there were no injuries to ISF personnel within the base from the blast. ISF commander Brigadier James Baker said United Nations Police (UN POL) and the ISF were investigating the explosion. “Any threats to security within East Timor are a great concern and the ISF will continue to work with the government of East Timor and UNPOL to ensure that threats to peace and stability in this country are dealt with,” he said.
Authorities have not said whether the incident is linked to the shooting in Ermera district on Wednesday. ISF troops encountered Reinado and a group of his armed followers who fired about five shots in the presence of the international troops. Security forces have previously failed to apprehend Reinado, a key figure in the 2006 unrest who escaped from jail in August that year.
Factional fighting left at least 37 people dead in the April and May 2006 rebellion, and forced international peacekeepers to be despatched to restore calm. Reinado is wanted on eight counts of murder. East Timor’s leaders are pursuing dialogue with Reinado and his followers, and hope to have the issue resolved by May.
UNMIT’s Daily Media Review 7 February 2008
Reinado’s rebels fire on ISF – Rebels under the leadership of Major Alfredo Reinado have fired warning shots near a patrol of Australian troops south-west of the capital, Dili. Reinado has been on the run since he was arrested on charges of illegal weapons’ distribution, desertion and attempted murder after widespread violence in 2006. The International Stabilisation Force (ISF) Spokesperson Brigadier General James Baker said that five to eight warning shots were fired, but the Australian troops did not return fire. “What we’ve seen today is a reckless act by Reinado. If the ISF soldiers had not acted with professionalism and discipline, then an escalation of the incident could have occurred,” he said. “The ISF did not return fire, but immediately withdrew to Gleno [the home base],” he added. “There were no casualties from this incident.” Brigadier General Baker said that the ISF is not engaged in any operation against Reinado. “Reinado is a fugitive of the Timorese criminal justice system, he has threatened the safety of Australian troops,” he said. (TP, DN and STL)
Petitioners gather in Dili – The President of the National Parliament, Fernando Lasama, said that members of the petitioners’ group gathered today (7/2) in Aitarak Laran, Dili to commence a process of dialogue with the Government and the National Defence Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL). “They needed to come to Dili to help find a solution to their problems,” said Mr Lasama. “They will remain here and have their issues heard by the Government.” (TP and DN)
IDPs reject reduced food aid – Negotiations between IDPs and WFP officers have ended with IDPS in Comoro Airport Camp rejecting WFP’s food assistance. “We will reject any food aid because of the Government’s policy to reduce the rations,” said the Comoro Airport Camp IDP Spokesperson, Mateus da Costa Belo. IDPs further said that they would continue such peaceful actions until the Government responded to their needs. (TP)
National Parliament VP: Parties must self-access – The Vice President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, said that each party in the national parliament had to build capacity within itself and to create harmony with other parties in the parliament. Mr. Guterres also said that he believed this second national parliament to be stronger than the first, as the first NP was weakened by an undisciplined opposition. Mr Guterres claimed that Fretilin was conducting itself in a professional and disciplined manner and that this would help to strengthen the National Parliament. (DN)
Reform with no transparency – A Political and Social Science Lecturer at the National University of Timor-Leste, Faustino Cardoso (also the President of the National Commission of Elections), has said that the reformation process initiated by the Government is not transparent. “While the government has started the reforms, it is not clear how the reforms are progressing.” said Mr. Cardoso on Wednesday (6/2) in Balide, Dili. “The public does not know about the reforms because the process is not transparent. It is still unclear what areas will be reformed.” (STL)
F-FDTL to recruit soldiers with legal backgrounds – The State Secretary of Defence, Julio Thomas Pinto, said that the F-FDTL would this year look to recruit soldiers with law degrees and/or backgrounds. “In order to establish a military tribunal, we need trained military judges,” said Mr. Pinto. “The Department of Defence now is focusing on this to recruit soldiers with legal backgrounds to be involved in the military tribunal.” The new recruitment will be held in July 2008. (STL)
Lasama: Petitioners should cooperate with the Government – The President of the National Parliament, Fernando Lasama, said that establishing a gathering place for the petitioners to meet will help in finding solutions to the problems faced by them. Mr Lasama said that a common gathering place would allow the petitioners, the F-FDTL and the Government and to meet and cooperate with each other to find a resolution to this ongoing crisis. (STL)
UN Timor point man wants stabilisation mission extended AAP 07 Feb 08 1640 hrs – DILI (AFP) – The United Nations point man in East Timor said Thursday he was in favour of extending the global body’s stabilisation mission in the troubled fledgling nation.
Atul Khare said he supported UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s recommendation that the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) have its mandate, set to expire February 26, renewed for another year. “Looking at the broad picture, I think that there is relative stability. But looking at the individual cases, I see that the stability is fragile,” Khare told a press conference here. “I strongly support the recommendation which the secretary general has made.”
The mission was established in August 2006 following factional violence in April and May that killed at least 37. A UN police patrol was met with warning shots Wednesday after stumbling across a group of fugitive rebels hiding out in the country’s Ermera district.
A police spokesman said the rebels were part of a group of soldiers who deserted in 2006 and are headed by Major Alfredo Reinado, who is on the run from charges of illegal weapons distribution, desertion and attempted murder.
East Timor taking steps to ‘contain’ Reinado ABC News 7 February 2008 – East Timor’s deputy Prime Minister says there has been significant progress in containing the threat posed by armed rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado. East Timorese troops loyal to Major Reinado fired a number of shots when they came across Australian troops last night, in what is understood to have been a chance encounter.
Reinado was arrested on charges of illegal weapons distribution, desertion and attempted murder after unrest in 2006, but later escaped from jail. Deputy Prime Minister Jose Guterres says arresting Reinado is not an immediate option because of his armed support base. “We have established a taskforce within government and they have met a number of times with Reinado and his group and this process of dialogue continues,” he said. “The fact we have achieved the process of containment in Emera shows already we have made positive steps.”
Dr Damien Kingsbury is an Australian academic expert on East Timor who was in Dili last night. He says informed sources tell him the encounter between Australian forces and troops loyal to Reinado was by chance and there is no lingering hostility between the groups.
“My understanding is Australian troops were out on routine patrol in the district Reinado is known to be in and they incidentally came across some of Reinado’s men who were also on patrol,” he said. “Reinado’s men panicked and fired off a few shots, but the shots were not reciprocated.” He says there is no reason to believe Reinado’s men deliberately targeted Australian troops. “I think it really was a panic response – they thought that they might have been pursued by the Australian troops,” he said. “When they realised it was just a routine patrol, they fired off their shots, they were not reciprocated and Reinado’s men pulled out.”
Meanwhile Mr Guterres says the assistance of Australian troops is vital as the country works to contain the threat. “[Australian troops] have helped stabilise the country, working closely with the United Nations and today I must say the situation has improved in East Timor,” he said. “I believe that once the situation is completely stabilised, the Government will decide, in consultation with the current Australian Government to see if they have to remain in East Timor.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/07/2156932.htm?section=world
Reinado rebels fire on Aust troops ABC News 6 Feb 08 – Forces loyal to the fugitive rebel leader Alfredo Reinado have opened fire on Australian troops in East Timor. The troops were on a routine patrol along a road south-west of Dili when they encountered a group that included Reinado and his bodyguards. The Australian Defence Force says Reinado’s group fired on the troops without provocation. The commander of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) in Timor, Brigadier James Baker, says the Australians handled the situation professionally. “The ISF did not return fire but immediately withdrew to Gleno [the home base],” he said.”There were no casualties from this incident.”
UNMIT’s Daily Media Review 6 February 2008
IDPs against Government food reduction policy – IDPs in the Obrigado Barracks and Airport camps are taking a stand against the Government’s food reduction policy. The IDPs are arguing that the allocation of funds in the approved national budget was meant to provide assistance to the IDPs, and not for victims of natural disasters. “We reject the decision of the Government to reduce food,” said the Obrigado Barrack IDP camp Spokesperson, Julio da Costa Gaio, in a press conference held last Monday (4/2). “We will continue to defend our rights as IDPs. We will mobilizes and take our issues to the National Parliament…. The GGovernment must work together with NGOs to continue the food distributions as before.” The Spokesperson also warned that if the Government did not find a way to resolve this, the IDPs would go on strike. (TP and STL)
PNTL arrests boy with ammunition – PNTL officers arrested a 15-year-old boy in Balide last Sunday (3/2) on charges of possessing ammunition. The Commander of PNTL Dili District, Pedro Bello, said that this was a joint operation between PNTL, UNPol and F-FDTL. (TP)
National Youth Group asks Government to solve petitioners case – The National Movement of Youth Unity (MJUN) have asked the Government to solve the petitioner’s case in a transparent manner. The Coordinator of MJUN said that it’s important that people are aware of, and are involved in, the process to solve the petitioner’s case. (TP)
Petitioners to gather in Kampung Alor – President Jose Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister Xanana GusmÃ£o and the President of the National Parliament Fernando Lasama, held a special meeting to determine a gathering place where the petitioners can convene to hold talks with the Government. Kampung Alor was chosen as the general area and a specific location will be identified this week. (DN)
Court of Appeals President agrees with plans for military tribunal – The President of the Court of Appeals, Claudio Ximenes, has come out in support of President Jose Ramos-Horta’s plan to establish a military tribunal with assistance from the Brazilian Government. Mr Ximenes also said that Timor-Leste still requires technical assistance from the international community to bolster the judicial system. (DN)
National Parliament Vice President: Food reduction must not be for all IDPs – The Vice President of the National Parliament, Vicente da Silva Guterres, has said that the Government’s food reduction policy should be implemented according to the status of IDPs. He said that while the Government should reduce or stop food assistance for IDPs who are public servants, food assistance could be slowly reduced for other IDPs. “We must consider the consequences of our decision,” said Mr Guterres. (DN)
Hospital IDPs -We did not become IDPs to receive rice: IDPs camped at the National Hospital have said that they did not become IDPs to receive rice. They became IDPs because of the crisis. They are reluctant to leave the hospital as they are still fear for their safety. Many of the IDPs also do not have homes to move back to. “The Government is reducing food rations as part of a plan to move the IDPs out of the Hospital,” said one IDP named Aderito Pinto. “Because of this, I am asking the Government to rebuild my house.” The IDPs also argue that 4kg or rice is not enough for one month. (DN)
UNMIT: UN Meets FRETILIN to discuss reform of the Security Sector – Dili, February 5, 2008 – The senior leadership of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) have met FRETILIN’s leadership to discuss the reform of the security sector.
Today’s meeting follows upon FRETILIN’s expression of willingness to become engaged in issues of national importance, such as security sector reform, to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he visited Timor-Leste in December.
Those representing FRETILIN today included the party’s Secretary-General, Dr. Mari Alkatiri, Vice-President Arsenio Bano, two Deputy Secretary-Generals and a number of parliamentarians and members of the Fretilin Central Committee.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, convened this meeting to inform Fretilin and seek their views on UNMIT’s role in the review and reform of key security institutions. Mr Khare told the meeting that security sector reform is a priority area and its success will be critical in ensuring sustainability for the new nation.
“Any review on how to reform the security sector must look at the restructuring of the national police and an assessment of the F-FDTL, the private security sector, customs and other institutional areas such as the courts and correctional facilities. The review must be comprehensive, holistic, ensure broad representation of all stakeholders and it must be owned by the Timorese people,” Mr Khare added.
Mr Khare stated that the objective of UN support was to assist in the creation of a security sector that is effective, accountable, transparent, non-partisan and sustainable, operating under civilian control, within a framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights.
It was agreed that such meetings would be held on an ongoing basis, every two weeks.
Under Security Council Resolution 1704, UNMIT is mandated to assist the Timorese Government in conducting a comprehensive review of the future role and needs of the security sector including the Ministry of Defence, the Falintil Armed Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), the Ministry of the Interior and the supporting the Government through the provision of advisors and coordinating with other partners to strengthen institutional capacity as required.
For more information, please call Allison Cooper on +670 7230453 or Hipolito Gama on +670 7311839
Fretilin MP raises corruption allegation 06/02/2008 http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/s2155678.htm
In East Timor the Fretilin opposition have launched what they believe will be a series of revelations against current government members of prior corrupt activities. Yesterday, the opposition is called for Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to sack the Vice Prime Minister over allegations he misused public funds during his time as Foreign Minister in a previous government.
Estanislau De Silva, Fretilin M-P and former Prime Minister.
MARCH: Fretilin MP Francisco Baranco issued a statement to parliament alleging that current Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Gutteres misused public funds while minister for foreign affairs, under the second constitutional government… when he appointed his wife as counsel to the UN ambassador in New York. Fretilin claims Mr Gutteres had appointed his wife without consulting the government, and authorised a transfer of money that increased her salary from that of a local staff, to the equivalent of a diplomat.
Estanislau De Silva is a current member of the Fretilin party and a member of parliament.
DE SILVA: I have to say at the time I was the fifth Vice Prime Minster, and I didn’t know anything, the council of ministers wasn’t briefed, this is why we see the transfer was an abuse of power, and it is seen as a nepotism, a conflict of interest, and misuse of public funds for personal interest.
MARCH: Mr De Silva says what Mr Gutteres did was illegal, and has urged Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to sack his deputy pending an investigation into the allegations.
DE SILVA: If he is coherent with his statement before, he should ask Mr Gutteres to resign immediately and then investigation to follow up because he did the same while he was the president – (to) ask Mr Alkitri to resign then ask for investigation follow, so he need to be in accordance with what he did in the past and do it now straight away.
MARCH: Last year as President, Xanana Gusmao called for the resignation of the then Prime Minister Mari Alkitiri, following allegations he was involved in instigating violence during the crisis in early 2006. Mr Gusmao’s office yesterday, said he was refusing to comment on Fretilin’s call to sack Mr Gutteres. Mr Guterres was out of the country yesterday, on his way to attend a conference on good governance in Australia. He claims he asked then-Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta if he could appoint his wife to the position, and Mr Ramos-Horta approved it. He says he left his position as an ambassador in New York, during the crisis, to return to East Timor to serve his country, during its time in need. He says he’s not a rich man and if he didn’t find a job for his wife that paid the same salary he was earning, she and his children would be left homeless on the streets of New York. He also begs the question, why had Fretilin chosen to wait until now, to raise an issue which occurred under a previous government.
Fretilin MP Estanislau De Silva says the party is making the allegations now because the government has failed to do so.
DESILVA: Because when this government swore in in August, Mr Xanana Gusmao promised to do all the international inquiry, investigations and audits, and we are waiting and nothing is happening, and we believe it’s time now that we cannot continue the situation of what happened in the past and then to allow more misuse of public funds.
MARCH: And he says, this is just the beginning.
DESILVA: We raise it now because we want to show that this government is full of people who have a background that is not in conformity of the ethics, that is not in conformity of good governance. Mr Jose Luis Gutteres this week, next week we will present another case in the parliament, and the following week we will present another case.
MARCH: Mr De Silva also says that he hopes the current President Jose Ramos Horta supports Fretilin’s position.
DESILVA: We hope that he understand our position and the situation cannot continue. We live in a peaceful country – the situation is very peaceful now it is not because of the government, it is because Fretilin tolerate, Fretilin have decided not to call for any action that could endanger the security and stability of this country.
UNMIT’s Daily Media Review 5 February 2008
TVTL news coverage
PM: F-FDTL must give hope to people – Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has said that in order to face the future, people must have confidence in the F-FDTL. This institution must be the cornerstone for providing faith to the nation and the people in areas of security, stability and development.
Horta: Human resources must be strengthened ahead of tribunal – President Jose Ramos-Horta has urged the Government to start building and strengthening the capacity of staff in anticipation of a military tribunal. “We must also prepare F-FDTL officers in the justice sector,” said the President upon his arrival from an official visit to Brazil. “It’s important and urgent to ensure that the military institution is fully functioning.” The President also said that the institutions of the government and the state are still fragile and require the assistance of the United Nations until 2012.
UNPol transfers 3 police stations to PNTL – To establish peace and security in Dili, UNPol handed over three police stations in Bidau, Mercado Lama and Bairopite to PNTL yesterday. On the ceremony of handover of responsibility, PNTL officers said that they were willing and ready to provide security to the community. “We feel happy that our friends from UNPol are providing this opportunity. Thanks to UNPol and the government,” said a PNTL officer.
RTL news coverage
Horta: UN and ISF to stay until 2012 – President Jose Ramos-Horta said that the United Nations (UN) and the International Security Forces (ISF) will stay in Timor-Leste until 2012 with annual reviews of the mission. The President also said that the presence of UN and ISF has helped to strengthen the economy of Timor-Leste as the UN employs 1000 employees and ISF 300 employees.
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Taur Matan Ruak: “Cooperation needed to solve crisis” – The Commander of F-FDTL, Taur Matan Ruak, has said that if Timorese people really want to resolve the crisis, then all people need to cooperate together in a peaceful way. These comments were made at the 5th anniversary of the F-FDTL navy held in Hera last Saturday. “I would like to say that there are no problems without solutions,” said the Commander. “Once upon a time we had a problem with Indonesia, and we solved it. It should be easier for us to solve our own internal problems. (DN)
SRSG: Laws form basis of democracy – The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Mr Atul Khare, has said that he believes laws form the foundations of any functioning democratic state. Mr Khare made these statements last Friday during the 15th anniversary celebrations of the daily national paper, Suara Timor Lorosae. The SRSG also said that the current structure of Timor-Leste’s institutions are still fragile and have limited capacity in building peace and in resolving conflicts. “Because laws are the basis of democracy, they need to be strengthened in order to build confidence in the development process,” said Mr Khare. (STL)
Horta: Alfredo/petitioners’ problems won’t affect F-FDTL recruitment – President Jose Ramos-Horta has stated that the unsolved problems of Alfredo and the petitioners will not affect the recruitment process for the F-FDTL. “The problems of Major Alfredo and the petitioners will not impact on the recruitment process as these are separate issues,” said President Horta. “The recruitment process of the F-FDTL will be based on the law.” (STL and DN)
PM: Defence and security main priorities – Prime Minister Xanana GusmÃ£o articulated his priorities as Prime Minister during the 5th anniversary of the F-FDTL navy held in Hera last Saturday. “Since I became the Prime Minister, my main priorities have been to restructure the F-FDTL in line with the principals of the current government and to reform the security and defence sectors,” said the Prime Minister. (STL)
UNPol handover 3 police posts to PNTL – The United Nations Police have symbolically handed-over three police posts to the PTNL during a ceremony held in Bidau. The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Mr Atul Khare, said during the ceremony that security in Timor-Leste was improving. (STL, DN and TP)
Translated from the following sources: TVTL Televisao Timor Leste RTL Radio Timor Leste STL Suara Timor Lorosa’e TP Timor Post DN Diario Nacional