Timor-Leste Legal News February 2008 (Part 7)
Daily Media Review 21 Feb 2008
TVTL News Coverage
Public Prosecutor issued request letter to witnesses – The Public Prosecutor has issued a request letter to four civilians in relation to the assassination attempts against President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. The General Prosecutor, Longuinhos Monteiro, said the requests were based on the investigation conducted so far. To date, sixteen witnesses have given their statement to the Public Ministry. One of the witnesses has been placed under house arrest as they were involved directly in the conspiracy to commit the assassinations on 11 February.
International Secret Agents in TL – The General Prosecutor of Timor-Leste, Longuinhos Monteiro, has confirmed that three Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers from the United States of America (USA) and five Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers have arrived in Dili to investigate the conspiracy and attempted assassinations against PR Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão. “The Government has invited them, as Timor-Leste has no forensic capacity and no laboratories to analyse ballistic evidence,” said Mr. Monteiro. Upon the request of the General Prosecutor, the President of Republic is also asking the Government and Australia to provide some crime and forensic investigators. The US Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Hans George Klemm, also confirmed that the US Government sent three FBI officers to
help in the investigations. (STL)
RTL News Coverage
Military operation against Salsinha cancelled – The Commander of the Defence Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak (TMR), confirmed that the operation against Salsinha and his group has been cancelled as they have left Dili. Commander TMR underlined further preparations are needed before continuing the operation. Commander TMR pointed out that that is was only this operation which was cancelled and that the whole investigation was still continuing. “We have cancelled this operation. We know that they have walked away and we need to reassess before continuing the operation. It is useless to go to an empty place,” said Commander TMR. As the General Commander for the Joint Operation, Commander TMR had discussed the mechanisms of the operation with the National Police of Timor-Leste and coordinated with the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) and United Nations Police (UNPol.) (11/2).
18 people who stand against the “State of Emergency” released – The Operational Commander of PNTL Mateus Fernandes said that the eighteen people arrested on Monday night for breaching the State of Emergency were released yesterday (20/2) after being detained for 72 hours. Commander Fernandes said there is no indication that the eighteen people were involved in crimes. The investigation shows that they were protesting against the decision of the Government to impose the “State Emergency.” “They were released as there was no indication that they were involved in anything,” said Commander Fernandes.
‘State of emergency’ targets Fretilin – The Fretilin Member of the National Parliament, Francisco Miranda Branco, has said that Fretilin believes the Government to be committing human rights violations against Fetilin as well as politically persecuting them. This statement was made in relation to the arrest of the former Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, JosE Teixeira, in his residence in Taibisse, Dili by PNTL Task Forces. The arrest was conducted without an arrest warrant. “The Government has begun its political persecution and human rights violations. The arrest has surprised Fretilin and we consider it as political persecution against Fretilin,” said Mr. Miranda on Wednesday (20/2) in Dili.
Lasama thanks FBI – Acting President Fernando Lasama de Araujo has thanked the United States Government for providing three FBI officers to Timor-Leste to work with the Prosecutor General in investigating the events of 11 February. “I would like to make clear to the public those who are coming (FBI and AFP) are not part of an international commission. They are experts requested by the State of Timor-Leste to support the General Prosecutor in conducting the investigations,” said Acting President Lasama on Wednesday (20/2) in Palacio das Cinzas Caicoli, Dili. (STL)
USA sends FBI to Timor-Leste – The General Prosecutor of Timor-Leste, Longuinhos Monteiro, has confirmed that three Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers from the United States of America have arrived in Dili to investigate the conspiracy and attempted assassinations against PR Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão. Mr. Monteiro said that FBI will stay in Timor-Leste as long as they were requested to by the Public Ministry. (TP)
No more dialogue with Salsinha – National Parliament members have asked Gastão Salsinha and his group to submit themselves to justice as they are the perpetrators of the problems being faced in the country. MPs have also given their support to the coordination between the F-FDTL, PNTL and ISF to pursue Salsinha and his groups. “The State is sacred. The position of Fretilin is that we will no longer pursue dialogue with the people who want to destroy the State,” said Fretilin member of NP David Dias Ximenes.
ISF starts operation in Manufahi – The International Stabilisation Force (ISF), comprised of Australian and New Zealand Forces, on Monday (18/2) started their operation to search for the suspects involved in the assassination attempts against PR Horta and PM Xanana. Even though the population is uneasy with the presence of the international forces, they are happy with the State of Emergency and know that the ISF is protecting them by providing security. “The ‘State of Emergency’ could bring us peace in this nation,” said Almerio Oliveira, a Youth Council member of Manufahi in Manufahi. (TP)
F-FDTL and PNTL implement “State of Emergency’ professionally – The Deputy President of National Parliament, Maria Paixão, has observed that the F-FDTL and PNTL have conducted themselves professionally during the implementation of the State of Emergency. (DN)
Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) Press release – Timor Leste 20.02.2008 JUSTICE FOR THE GRASSROOTS New help for communities to protect rights and seek justice solutions Dili, Timor-Leste. 30 January 2008 — A new initiative will be launched next month to help people in two districts of Timor-Leste to secure their human and legal rights. The project, called “Reach out for Rights” (Ponte de Direitus) will inform residents of Baucau and Liquisa districts about rights, law and the justice system in a practical and interesting way, and help to ensure their disputes are resolved in a peaceful manner that respects the rights of all. The project will be carried out by Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), with primary funding from he New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), under the terms of a grant signed today. The New Zealand Ambassador Ruth Nuttall commented: “This program is a very important one which will help Timorese people in rural areas to learn more about their legal rights under the laws of Timor-Leste.” The project marks the first collaboration by ASF with NZAID, and is also being supported by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives – CIDA.
Information and advice will be delivered in a variety of communities, with a special focus on IDP camp residents, rural villages that are home to IDPs, community leaders, and NGO and institution leaders and staff. ASF and partners will assist victims of rights violations and crimes, such as assault and arson, to know how to proceed with their legal claims and to understand the workings of the criminal justice system. Special emphasis will be made to improve access to the services of the Provedoria (Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice. ASF will work in collaboration with locally based Timorese NGOs with experience in community outreach and education.
More generally, the team of specially trained facilitators will combat the overall low awareness of human rights, laws and the legal system, and of obligations as citizens. By promoting understanding and confidence in the legal mechanisms for resolving disputes and crimes, the project aims to reduce the sense of insecurity that has emerged since the crisis of 2006.
At least 10,000 people will benefit from the activities, which will strengthen links of 60 communities with relevant services (governmental and non-governmental). As well, 45 respected community leaders will be trained to serve as information focal points on rights and justice issues. They will join a growing network of over 125 leaders prepared by Avocats Sans Frontières in four districts of Timor-Leste as “Community Legal Liaisons”. This project will therefore build upon the results of the Grassroots Justice Project of ASF, which was completed in December 2007.
Through this project, ASF and its donors and partners aim to complement the government’s efforts to strengthen respect for the rule of law amongst vulnerable, displaced and rural population groups in Timor-Leste, as a vital step towards sustainable peace, reconciliation and development.
For more information please contact : Melanie Reimer Head of Mission Timor-Leste – Avocats Sans Frontières Tel. 3322 090 or 3322 632 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNMIT Daily Media Review 20 Feb 2008
TVTL News Coverage
Alfredo’s advisor under house arrest – The advisor to Alfredo Reinado, Angelina Pires, has been placed under house arrest after being arrested on Sunday (17/2) on conspiracy and attempted assassination charges. ‘I cannot comment on the Prosecutor’s eyewitness as I respect the dignity of the suspect,” said the international prosecutor Felismino Cardoso.
Fretilin: Xanana’s statement too provocative – The Fretilin member of NP Inacio Moreira said that the statement made by PM Xanana Gusmão to the public was very provocative. “The message of PM Xanana last night is going to exacerbate the situation during the ‘State of Emergency,” said Mr. Moreira. Separately, MPs from CNRT, UNDERTIM and PSD said that they all agree with the Prime Minister’s statement. “UNDERTIM agrees with the statement of the Prime Minister. If possible the ‘State of Emergency’ should be extended to 2012 until the nation becomes stable and secure,” said Cornelio “L7” Gama.
RTL News Coverage
18 people arrested for violations against “State of Emergency” – The Operational Commander of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), Mateus Fernandes, confirmed that 18 people were arrested for violating the ‘State of Emergency.’ Police have also seized fifty Rama ambons (metal arrows) and a sword from one suspect in his residence in Bidau, Dili. Commander Fernandes said that more than a hundred people attempted to destabilize the situation in the areas of Vila Verde and Bairopite by beating iron against metal gates- usually done to warn of impending trouble. The police responded immediately by capturing 17 suspects and detaining them in the Dili District Police station for further investigation. “There are some incidents in the capital Dili, but the police attended immediately and the situation remains calm…PNTL has arrested some people who did not respectt the ‘State of Emergency’ and who were also involved in the assassination attempts against PR José Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão,” said Commander Fernandes. The security situation in Dili however remains calm with no significant security incidents.
Alfredo’s advisor under house arrest – The advisor to Alfredo Reinado, Angelina Pires, has been placed under house arrest after being arrested on Sunday (17/2) on conspiracy and attempted assassination charges. Prosecutor Felismino Cardoso said on Tuesday (19/2) that Angelina’s case is an important one as it is relates to the attempted assassinations against the leaders of the country. Angelina Pires was one of the first suspects interviewed.
NP has no law to guide ‘State of Emergency’ – The Acting President of the National Parliament (NP) has affirmed that there is no law guiding the Government on when it needs to report to the NP on the ‘State of Emergency.’ The Acting NP President Maria Paixão said that the National Parliament is currently working on a law about the State of Emergency. “There is no law that outlines the deadline for reporting on the ‘State of Emergency.’ We could adopt some from other countries,” said Ms. Paixão in response to demands made by MPs for the Government to provide a report on the first State of Emergency. Ms. Maria appealed to the MPs to give adequate time to the Government to prepare its report.
Fretilin demands medical officers for Horta – Fretilin is forcing the Government to provide medical officers to Darwin to follow the process of PR Ramos-Horta’s medical treatment. “The Government has to have a medical team in Australia to follow the treatment process every day and not just wait for information provided by the Australian doctors. This is our responsibility,” said Fretilin member of NP, Antoninho Bianco on Tuesday (19/2) in NP, Dili.
ETCRN: Timor-Leste remains in crisis – The East Timor Crisis Reflection Network (ETCRN) said that Timor-Leste continues to be in crisis as there is no commitment from the Timorese people to resolve problems that too easily become politicised by individual and group interests. The Director of ETCRN José Caetano Guterres has asked the political parties to contribute to resolving the nation’s problems by creating unity between them and the public. Related to the assassination attempts against PR José Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão, Mr Guterres said that the attempted assassinations show that the presence of the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) and the United Nations Police (UNPol) in Timor-Leste could not guarantee security for Timor-Leste. Mr. Guterres further asked the National Parliament to invite the ISF and UNPol to give their statements on their failure to establish security. Mr. Guterres is also proposing to establish a national independent commission to investigate the events of 11 February
SRSG and Lasama discuss arrest mechanisms – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, met with the Acting President of the Republic, Fernando Lasama de Araujo, on Monday (18/2) to discuss possible mechanisms for arresting Salsinha and his group. “My meeting with the Acting President was to see how we can arrest those who were involved in the crimes. We focused on certain mechanisms. I also talked to PM Xanana this morning on how to make the arrests more effective by involving the F-FDTL, PNTL or anyone else,” said SRSG Khare. (TP)
Pires under house arrest – Angelina Pires, accused of conspiring with Alfredo’s group to assassinate PR Jose Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão, has been placed under house arrest by the Dili District Court. “I cannot comment on the Prosecutor’s eyewitness as I respect the dignity of the suspect,” said the international prosecutor Felismino Cardoso. Angelina was arrested on Sunday (17/2). (TP)
Fretilin: Xanana’s statement provocative – The Fretilin member of NP Estanislau da Silva said that the statement of PM Xanana Gusmão to the public was a provocative message which would worsen the current situation. Mr. da Silva said that the statement of PM Xanana was also insulting to other people. “The message of PM Xanana last night is going to exacerbate the situation as the message violates the ‘State of Emergency’ which prohibits any political activity,” said Mr. da Silva. “But Xanana is engaging in political activity in order to attack others.” Mr. da Silva has also asked PM Xanana to amend his statement for the sake of national consensus. Separately, MPs from CNRT, UNDERTIM and PSD said that they all agree with the Prime Minister’s statement. “CNRT does not see the message as being provocative. As the Chief of the Government, he has to say whatever he has to create calm during this State of Emergency,” said Eduardo de Deus Barreto. (TP)
UNPOL: possible to arrest Salsinha and his men – The UNPol Spokesperson, Benjamin Osuji, has said that the coordination between UNPol, PNTL, F-FDTL and ISF would make it possible to arrest GastÃ£o Salsinha and the other 17 members of his group who were involved in the events of 11 February. “The UNPol Commissioner in Timor-Leste, Rodolfo Tor, has said that the suspects involved in the incidents should be arrested. Timor-Leste’s authorities, including the political parties, are also demanding the arrests,” said Mr Osuji on Tuesday (19/2). (DN)
Alfredo sent a letter to the UN SG – Alfredo Reinado once sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon claiming that he and his group were victims under Fretilin’s rule. The nine-page letter was sent on 27 November 2007, two weeks before the visit of the Secretary-General to Timor-Leste. He wrote that he was only following his duties when the fighting occurred in mid 2006. He also wrote that as the Commander of the military police, he had a right to protect the nation when the ‘State of Law’ changed into the ‘State of Dictatorship.’ (STL)
Joint Operation Commander’s meeting held – For the first time, the Commander of the Defence Force of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak has led a joint meeting with PNTL. TMR acted as the General Commander of the Joint Operation of F-FDTL and PNTL. The meeting was held to discuss operational strategies to be used during the ‘State of emergency’ to track down Alfredo’s men and Salsinha’s group. (STL)
IDPs to remain in place – In relation to the recent attacks against the leaders of the country, IDPs are refusing to return home claiming that they will wait in camps until the situation normalizes and becomes secure. Afonso Moniz, one of the IDPs in Obrigado Barrack Camp, said that the 11 February events have made him afraid to return home. “Even though the Government is pursuing various avenues to make us return home, we insist on remaining in the camps,” said Mr. Moniz. (STL)
East Timor Military Pulls Out of Rebel Hunt: Commander DILI, Feb. 20 (AFP) – East Timor’s military has pulled out of a hunt for rebels accused of assassination attempts against the nation’s two top leaders, its chief Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said Wednesday.
Australian-led international peacekeepers along with UN police, national police and the military have been searching for at least 17 renegade soldiers accused of trying to kill the president and prime minister on February 11.
“Why should we go to places that are empty?” asked Matan Ruak of the search, which has focused on the hills outside Dili. “We have already cancelled our operations… Cancelling does not mean that there will not be any operation again,” the brigadier general said, without elaborating, though he said he would monitor the situation.
Matan Ruak has already demanded an explanation as to how the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force here and some 1,700 UN police had failed to prevent carloads of about 20 rebels from reaching the homes of President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
East Timor’s military was believed to be playing only a marginal role in the hunts, but their pullout highlights fraught relations with the international forces here.
Ramos-Horta was critically wounded in the attack and airlifted to Australia, where he is recovering, while Gusmao escaped an ambush on his car unharmed.
The international forces were originally dispatched at the government’s request after unrest in 2006 flared among military and police factions, causing bloody street violence that left 37 people dead. The leader of renegade soldiers who originally sparked the 2006 violence apparently led last week’s attacks and was killed in the firefight at Ramos-Horta’s home.
Meanwhile the United States and Australia were providing personnel to help domestic investigations as East Timor lacked forensics staff and facilities, prosecutor-general Longuinhos Monteiro said. “This has forced me to advise the president of the republic and he
government that in this case support teams for crime scene investigation were needed to help facilitate the initial investigation,” Monteiro said.
The United States will send three members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, while Australia has provided five investigators, he said. They were expected to stay for two to three weeks, Monteiro added.
Haburas statement on Dili road rehabilitation and cutting down of trees HABURAS FOUNDATION Rua Celestino da Silva, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 390, Telp: +670-3310103 E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org PROTEST NOTE AGAINST CUTTING TREES IN DILI CITY.
Once again, with grave concern, Haburas Foundation would like to point out the preoccupation of many people about environmental management in and around Dili which continues to disrespect the principle of sustainable ecological development.
RDTL Government has not given importance and just lets continue the pedestrian pavement project which cuts trees on the side of the road. The protest conducted by civil society on 10 August 2007, and brought to the National Parliament and RDTL Government has not been able to go against the attitude of companies that violate the ecological principle.
A phenomenon like this, shows that companies do not respect the worries expressed by members of Parliament (representatives of the people) about stopping cutting trees in Dili.
We also hear from the small and powerless (people) about the situation on side of the streets is becoming increasingly hot for them because trees that used to give shade to them when conducting small business activities or walking on the street have all gone. New trees recently planted are [actually] not appropriate for planting on the sidewalks in Timor-Leste’s tropical climate, because these planted trees are trees with vertical canopies and do not give much shade for people. From an ecological aspect it shows that trees with small canopies have difficulty absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gasses emitted by transport systems, thus what is emitted accumulates as poisonous gas in Dili in the future. Once again, a green belt system should develop not only from an esthetical aspect according to human perspectives, but it is important that it follows ecological principles.
Development processes like construction or rehabilitation of roads should not only be viewed as the job of the Department of Public Works, but also be viewed as an interconnected process with responsibility and competence of other Departments [as well]. With good coordination we can conduct integrated development, holistically and according to sustainable ecological development principles.
The Government has recently signed up to the Kyoto Protocol which gives the obligation to Timor-Leste to do development according to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Based on [this] principle there are three conventions in connection to the environment that Timor-Leste has ratified as well as the Kyoto Protocol, so we urgently ask once again from the National Parliament, RDTL Government, and companies the following:
To the Parliament:
1. Call upon the Minister of Public Works to give an explanation about this problem in the National Parliament
2. Put priority on quickly putting in place Timor-Leste’s environmental laws
To the RDTL Government:
1. Conduct an evaluation for contracts with companies and give sanctions to companies that do not follow regulations or their contract
2. Prioritize ecologic development through the development of proposed laws that have a connection with environment and also realize a practice of sustainable development principles
3. Intensively monitor the development processes in order to avoid steps that would result in negative impact to the environment, like this pavement rehabilitation [will cause] in the future
4. Conduct a judicial process (according to law) if there are indications of ecological crime conducted by companies in this pavement rehabilitation process
To the companies
1. Also assume social and ecological responsibility, from [besides] your economic interest
2. Follow the principle of the Clean Development Mechanism which Timor-Leste adheres to
Dili, 18 February 2008
Expressed by: Hortencio Pedro Vieira Manager Advocacy Division and Environmental Campaign
Acknowledged by: Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho Executive Director
See also ROCCIPI Analysis of the Social Problem of Forest Preservation in East Timor on the East Timor Law Journal