COMPLICATIONS WITH THE APPLICATION OF LAW IN A MURDER CASE INVOLVING JOSE LOPES - JSMP Justice Update 30 July 2007
On 05 July 2007 the Dili District Court handed down a final sentence in a case of murder involving a member of PNTL who is also a student of a private institute of higher learning in Dili. This decision was the final decision in a judicial process conducted by the Dili District Court. The Court decided to acquit the defendant from all charges as the presiding judge was uncertain about testimony provided by witnesses throughout the trial in accordance with the principle IN DUBIO PRO REO&;. However, when JSMP sought confirmation about this case at the Dili District Court it turns out that a representative of the prosecution unit, namely international prosecutor Baltazar Ramos, has already appealed against the decision as the appeal was registered on 24 July 2007 at the Dili District Court so there still is a possibility that the decision can be modified in this murder case.
According to those witnesses who gave testimony, the defendant Jose Lopes was the person most responsible for the death of the victim Joao &;Karau Barreto in an incident that occurred in Ailok-Laran on 21 January 2007.)
As a culmination of the trial process into this matter, at exactly 2.55pm on Thursday 5 July 2007, the Dili District Court read out its final decision in this murder case involving the defendant Jose Lopes who is a PNTL member as well as an Instructor at the Timor Leste Police Academy.
FACTS AND LEGAL ANALYSIS
The judges of the Dili District Court presiding over this murder case outlined the reasoning behind their final decision and referred to the following articles:
1. In principle any criminal case occurring within the community must be tried in accordance with the type of act committed. This is also true for murder cases according to Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for any person found guilty of murder.
2. However Articles 48 and 49 (1) of the Indonesian Penal Code state that a person can not be punished for an act necessitated for his own defence that results in the death of another.
After examining the conclusions of the court and the aforementioned juridical facts, JSMP believes that any act committed by an individual should be punished when evidence presented in court can establish that the defendant is the actor of that murder pursuant to the applicable criminal procedure code in Timor Leste. However, it is necessary to examine why the incident occurred. Did the defendant commit the act with pure intent, or was it an act of self defence?
Based on its observations, JSMP believes that the murder attributed to the defendant José Lopes was an act of murder that can not be ignored and the consequence of his actions was the death of the victim João “Karau” Barreto which clearly violated the law, independently from the aforementioned elements, in particular those elements set out in Articles 48 and 49 (1).
The Public Prosecutor stated in his final recommendation on 28 June 2007 that the defendant should be given the maximum sentence possible because as a member of the police he should set an example for the community. On the contrary, he committed a murder that is punishable according to Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code.
The prosecution believed that this was clearly an act of unlawful murder that has to be punished in accordance with the applicable law in Timor Leste. The defendant should not have been acquitted due to chronological considerations.
To the best of its ability, JSMP will attempt to analyze and review aspects of legality pursuant to the applicable law in Timor Leste.
We hereby summarize the articles of law referred to by the judges:
1. Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code states that:
The person who with deliberate intent takes the life of another person, shall, being guilty of manslaughter, be punished by a maximum imprisonment of 15 years.
Manslaughter here is interpreted as an act of murder. It is clear that the execution of the murder caused the death of another person. What is meant by deliberate intent is that there was a clear desire and expectation that the act would take place and result in death (intent). The defendant intended that all of his acts would result in the death of the victim and therefore he should be punished in accordance with this article.
2. Article 48 of the Indonesian Penal Code states that: not punishable shall be the person who commits an act to which he is compelled by force majours, and Article 49 (1) states that: not punishable shall be the person who commits an act, necessitated by the defence of his own or another one's body, chastity or property against direct or immediate threatening unlawful assault.
The two articles above encompass acts of murder that are committed due to overwhelming and unavoidable forces, self defence or emergency defence that can not be avoided. This means that the defendant himself would be killed as a result of such an attack which is described as an overwhelming force.
In this particular case involving the defendant Jose Lopes, JSMP believes that that the murder committed by the defendant should be punished pursuant to Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code because the defendant's act resulted in the death of the victim Joao & Karau Barreto, without prejudice to Articles 48 and 49 (1) of the Indonesian Penal Code Indonesia which state that any act necessitated by the defence of one's body shall not be punished.
The prosecution presented witnesses Tomas Carvalho de Cardoso, Anacleto, and Abrao Sequeira who contradicted one another when summoned to give testimony. Therefore the Panel of Judges concluded that the testimony provided by these witnesses did not amount to evidence that would aggravate the charges against the defendant Jose Lopes, or in other words the Panel was not convinced by the evidence and therefore they used their discretion to issue a decision that considered the principle of IN DUBIO PRO REO, meaning that when there are doubts about testimony a judge shall acquit the defendant from all charges and find in favor of the defendant. Therefore the panel decided to fully acquit the defendant Jose Lopes from all charges.
The judges were convinced that it would have been impossible for the defendant Jose Lopes, who is both a member of PNTL as well as an instructor at the Timor Leste Police Academy, to commit an unlawful act such as murder if his circumstances weren’t of a coercive nature.
JSMP has been monitoring developments in this case and admits that the testimony provided by prosecution witnesses was contradictory and therefore the Panel was unconvinced that this witness testimony could constitute strong evidence. On these grounds the Panel decided to acquit the defendant from all charges as the actions of the defendant Jose Lopes were committed purely in self defence as he was being attacked by a group of approximately 15 people under the command of Joao Karau Barreto.
JSMP recommends for all members of the community, especially the family and friends of victims involved in a particular case to respect court decisions, recalling that Article 118 (3) of the RDTL Constitution states that "Court decisions shall be binding and shall prevail over the decisions of any other authority". Also, the applicable law provides the family of victims an opportunity to submit an appeal unit to the court of appeal via the prosecution unit if they feel that a decision issued by a court of first instance was not made pursuant to the juridical facts and is in conflict with the applicable law. In fact, the prosecution unit has taken such action in this matter and has submitted an appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision issued by the District Court.
JSMP also recommends that the prosecution unit should not act in haste when confronted with similar cases in the future. The prosecution unit should not submit an indictment to the court unless they have sufficient material evidence and enough key witnesses to prove to the court that an act has been committed by the defendant. In this case the defendant was acquitted due to the weakness of evidence which was the responsibility of the prosecution to prove the crime through the trial process.
 Chronological considerations take into account sequential events (why an incident has occurred) and do not consider the criminal act itself.
 Refer to the Indonesian Penal Code, Chapter XIX Crimes Against Life, Article 338 (R Soesilo, p 240, Politeia Bogor)
Government establishes Nino Konis Santana National Park - Gabinete do Primeiro-Ministro Media Release: IN the eastern tip of Timor-Leste, its 68,000 hectares of land and 55,600 of sea aim to conserve a very rich national heritage.
Dili, 27 July 2007 - In its meeting Friday, 27 July, the Government of Timor-Leste formally approved the declaration of Nino Konis Santana National Park as the first National Park in its national Protected Area Network.
Timor-Leste is internationally recognized as a high priority for terrestrial and marine biodiversity conservation. Globally it occurs within the region of Wallacea, an area rich in diverse and unique biota, and is located within the Coral Triangle an area with the greatest biodiversity of coral and reef fish in the world.
The joint terrestrial and marine National Park has been widely consulted and developed in close collaboration with local communities living within the area.
The Government of Timor-Leste with continuing assistance from BirdLife International and the Australian New South Wales State Government Department of Environment and Climate Change is ensuring an enlightened approach of collaborative, joint management between the Government and local communities in collaboration with civil society.
This approach will ensure equity of benefits to local communities, protection and management of unique biodiversity, conservation of watersheds and recognition of traditional ownership, use and continued residence for local communities.
The National Park is established as an internationally recognized IUCN Management Category V Protected Landscape/Seascape where the traditional, cultural and spiritual interactions of local people and nature are maintained in a way that protects the environment and provides sustainable livelihoods for local communities.
The National Park incorporates the entire eastern tip of Timor-Leste encompassing approximately 68,000 hectares of land and 55,600 hectares of sea, a total of 123,600 hectares and aims to conserve a rich and extensive natural, cultural and historical heritage. It conserves an extensive range of land and seascapes and will protect nationally and globally significant flora and fauna species and habitats on both land and sea, including extensive coral reefs and one of the largest remaining intact examples of tropical lowland and monsoon rainforest in the region.
The National Park is named in honour of Nino Konis Santana, national hero and former Commander of FALANTIL, the armed wing of the resistance movement in the struggle for independence who was born in the village of Tutuala within the National Park.
The area was a stronghold of the resistance movement during the struggle for independence. It holds continuing deep mythological, cultural and historical significance for the people of Timor-Leste. Continuously occupied for over 40,000 years, the area is rich in archaeological heritage and has many sites from the colonial Portuguese and World War II Japanese occupation periods.
East Timor: No amnesty for human rights violators, UN warns - Friday July 27, 3:18 PM Ban urges U.N. officials not to testify before truth commission (Kyodo) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has told U.N. officials not to testify before an Indonesia-East Timor "truth commission" investigating human rights abuses committed in East Timor in 1999 unless the commission drops its recommendation that those responsible for serious crimes be amnestied.
The United Nations "cannot endorse or condone amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights, nor should it do anything that might foster them," Ban said Thursday in a statement issued in New York.
"Unless the terms of reference are revised to comply with international standards, officials of the United Nations will, therefore, not testify at its proceedings," he added.
The Commission of Truth and Friendship was jointly set up by Indonesia and East Timor in 2005, tasked with establishing a "conclusive truth of events" about human rights violations that occurred prior to and following the 1999 referendum in which East Timorese voted to separate from Indonesia.
It is intended to promote reconciliation and friendship and to ensure that such tragic events are not repeated. It also recommends amnesty to those found responsible for committing gross human rights violations in the 1999 violence.
The commission has held a series of sessions in Jakarta, Dili and Bali to hear testimonies of East Timorese and Indonesians in connection with the 1999 violence blamed mostly on pro-Jakarta East Timorese militiamen.
They also repeatedly invited U.N. officials, including former Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General in East Timor Ian Martin, to testify, but none showed up. Martin is now U.N. special envoy in Nepal.
The commission is modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Unlike the one in South Africa, however, the commission will have no decision-making power. The commission can only make recommendations to parliaments of both sides and cannot prosecute anyone.
The commission, which was scheduled to last for one year, was extended for another year in 2006. The mandate of the commission was subsequently extended for another six months when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta met in Jakarta last month.
Militia groups, armed and supported by the Indonesian military, in April 1999 began escalating acts of violence and intimidation against pro-independence East Timorese in the run-up to the referendum on independence on Aug. 30 that year.
Soon after the results of the vote were announced Sept. 4 that year, the militia groups launched a campaign of violence and destruction across East Timor, which had been invaded by Indonesia in 1975.
Hundreds of people were killed, hundreds of thousands more forcibly displaced and 70 percent of East Timor's buildings and houses were destroyed.
Indonesia, under pressure from the international community, implicated 18 individuals, mostly military and police officers, but acquitted all of them except militia leader Eurico Guterres, who is now serving a 10-year jail term.
East Timor's government has ruled out the idea of seeking justice at an international tribunal and has instead made efforts to build a
close relationship with its former occupier and giant neighbor.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, became fully independent in May 2002 after more than 24 years under Indonesian occupation and two-and-a-half years under U.N. transitional administration.
East Timor: No amnesty for human rights violators, UN warns - New York, 27 July (AKI) - United Nations officials will boycott a commission set up jointly by Indonesia and East Timor (Timor-Leste) to foster reconciliation after the tiny south east Asian nation's struggle for independence if the body is allowed to recommend amnesties for crimes against humanity and other gross violations of human rights.
UN policy "is that the Organisation cannot endorse or condone amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights, nor should it do anything that might foster them," secretary general Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said on Thursday. "It is the firm intention of the Secretary-General to uphold this position of principle."
Spokesperson Marie Okabe noted that the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), established by Indonesia and East Timor in 2005, had on several occasions invited former staff members of the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to testify at its proceedings.
But the CTF's terms of reference into the bloodshed that followed East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999, and in which nine local UN personnel were killed, do not preclude it from recommending amnesty for crimes against humanity, gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, Okabe noted.
"Unless the terms of reference are revised to comply with international standards, officials of the United Nations will, therefore, not testify at its proceedings or take any other steps that would support the work of the CTF and thereby further the possible grant of amnesties in respect of such acts," she said.
Sale Of Chest Ornament Result in Death JSMP Press Release 26 July 2007 - On Wednesday 18 July 2007 the Suai District Court conducted a hearing in a case of murder. The defendant in this case is Martinho, who prior to the hearing had been serving a period of temporarily detention in Becora Prison. The defendant was transported in the prison vehicle, and was kept under close guard by 3 accompanying GNR vehicles.
Pursuant to Article 14 of the Criminal Procedure Code "Courts with more than one judge function collectively, on criminal matters, to adjudicate cases in connection with criminal offences, the maximum penalty of which, abstractly applicable, exceeds five years imprisonment".
Due to the application of the aforementioned jurisdiction, this case was presided over by a panel of judges comprising one international and two national judges, namely Dra. Maria das Dores Gomes (international judge) together with Dr. Jose Maria de Araujo and Dr. Guilherminho da Silva (national judges). The Public Prosecution Unit was represented by Reinato Bere Nahak, S.H. and the defendant was represented by Public Defender Sebastiao Amado de Almeida, S.H.
According to the applicable law in Timor Leste, the court deemed competent to try the defendant is the court that holds jurisdiction. <br><br>
The defendant in this murder case was being held at Becora prison, however it was necessary to try the defendant in the Suai District Court as that court holds jurisdiction over Suai, Maliana, Ainaro and Same. In accordance with the scene of the crime, this case had to be heard by the Suai District Court, pursuant to Article 16, Subsections 1 & 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code because the defendant is a member of the community in the aforementioned jurisdiction, even though he has been spent the preceding 6-8 months in temporary detention at the Becora Prison in Dili.
The defendant Martinho claimed in his statement that the incident culminating in the death of the victim was related to the sale of a traditional chest ornament that had been bequeathed by his father. The victim Bernardo Pacheco was the younger brother of the defendant’s father and therefore felt that he had an entitlement to this valuable object. However, this issue resulted in his death after he returned from selling the chest ornament because he did not give the proceeds from its sale to his nephew. The defendant felt angered and aggrieved and demanded the money from the victim. However the victim responded that he knew nothing about the chest ornament being bequeathed to the defendant.
At the conclusion of the trial the Suai District Court handed down a sentence of 9 years imprisonment against the Defendant Martinho (for murder) after the Panel adjourned the hearing for 10 minutes to deliberate on the charge presented by the Public Prosecutor, namely Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code which states “the person who with deliberate intent takes the life of another person shall, being guilty of manslaughter, be punished by a maximum imprisonment of fifteen years".
The sentence of 9 years imprisonment handed down by the Suai District Court is more lenient that the recommendation provided by the Public Prosecutor who charged the defendant with Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code. Mitigating factors in sentencing were the cooperative attitude and honesty of the defendant in revealing his crime that caused the death of the victim in 2006.
JSMP recommends to all members of the community and to all relevant parties who are faced with similar circumstances to refrain from taking unlawful action or taking the law into your own hands, because if you do so then you will be held accountable for your actions and shall be placed in prison, just like the defendant Martinho in this case of murder.
Judge revokes Reinado amnesty - Mark Dodd | July 24, 2007 The Australian A District Court judge in Dili has overturned a presidential decree offering amnesty to East Timor army rebel Major Alfredo Reinado.
The decision is a big embarassment to the UN mission in Dili whose mandate includes reforming the country's notoriously weak justice sector.
Last month, acting under pressure from politicians, East Timor's top law officer ordered the Australian military commander in Dili and his UN police counterpart to stop the hunt for Reinado.
The 39-year-old Australian-trained former military police commander is wanted for subversion and involvement in last year's deadly political violence.
Prosecutor-General Longhuinos Monteiro's June 27 letter raised concerns of double standards because former interior minister Rogerio Lobato, an Alkatiri loyalist, is currently in jail after being found guilty of illegally arming civilians during last year's bloody mayhem.
Now a UN judge says Mr Monteiro's decision was unconstitutional and criminal charges could result.
"Not only is the letter for safe passage by Reinado and his group invalid - it is clearly a crime to interfere with or otherwise seek to hinder the due execution of an outstanding warrant of arrest. "Graver is the fact that the Prosecutor-General issued a letter to police and military authorities when he has no legal authority to do so," said Judge Ivo Rosa.Judge Rosa warned there was compelling evidence to launch a criminal investigation into the issuing of the amnesty decree first announced by President Jose Ramos Horta.
The lastest brouha over Reinado follows the failure of East Timor's political leaders to agree on a new coalition government to lead the country. Rival parties have until July 30 to decide who should lead a new coalition government although talks headed by President Horta last Thursday broke down.
Leaders of the Fretilin party, which won most votes in last month's elections but not enought to rule in their own right met with an alliance headed by the new party of independence hero Xanana Gusmao, the National Coalition for the Reconstruction of East Timor.
Power sharing between the two parties was not an option with both groups split over who should become the next prime minister.
Dili District court Fully Acquits Defendants in Case of Suspected Rape - JSMP Press Release 19 July 2007 (english version released 24 July 07) - On 19 July 2007, the Dili District Court handed down a decision in a case of suspected rape which allegedly occurred in Becora, Dili in 2003. There were two defendants in this case, namely MS and SD. The aforementioned hearing was presided over by a single judge Dr. Vitor Hugo Pardal and the Public Prosecution Unit was represented by Dr. Bernardo C. Fernandes. The defendants were represented by a private lawyer named Dr. Napoleon da Silva.
As stated in the indictment of the Dili District Public Prosecutor, this case occurred on 8 May 2003 in Camea Becora. At that time the victim suddenly heard a noise above a window in her house. The victim approached the door to her house and peered out and when she looked towards the window she saw that the defendant MS was above the window and was holding a bucket full of water which he immediately poured over the victim. The victim fainted. The victim was not aware of what happened to her until her husband came home and woke her. When her husband found her she was completely naked. He took the victim to the police station and then to the hospital so she could be medically examined.
The previous hearing was presided over by a Panel of Judges, namely international judge Vitor Hugo Pardal, who was accompanied by national judges Antonino Goncalves and Costaio Basmery. The public prosecution unit was represented by Felismino Cardoso. In his recommendation of sentence, the Prosecutor referred to Article 285 and Article 55 (1) of the Indonesian Penal Code which set out the crime of rape and asked that the defendant MS be sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The Prosecutor's recommendation was more lenient than the maximum sentence for rape, which is prescribed in Article 285 of the Indonesian Penal Code as 12 years imprisonment. The Prosecutor felt that there was insufficient evidence to charge the defendant SD in this case.
The Panel explained in their decision that this case should not be classified as rape but rather the defendant’s actions constituted illegal trespass without the knowledge and permission of the home owner. In their decision the judges stated that the evidence presented by the Dili District Public Prosecutor was insufficient to sentence the defendants in this case. The judges held that the victim’s reference to water was vague and that there were insufficient legal grounds to convict the defendants.
With these considerations in mind, the Panel of Judges from the Dili District Court unanimously agreed in their decision, as read out by Judge Vitor Hugo Pardal, to fully acquit the defendants.
Based on the observations of Flora Soriano, a legal researcher from the Women’s Justice Unit of JSMP, the victim appeared deeply upset by judge's decision as she burst into tears and then asked her representatives from Fokupers and the Victim Support Service (VSS) to discuss her case with the prosecutor and appeal the court's decision.
The WJU acknowledges that the burden of proof in cases of sexual assault encompasses complex technical and legal issues. Therefore the WJU requests for all prosecutors handling cases involving sexual assault to work together with other competent agencies to ensure the preparation of sufficient evidence before deciding to take a case to court. The prosecutor should endeavor to prepare sufficient evidence, especially in cases of sexual assault, so that the prosecution is able to present relevant evidence to prevent acquittals when cases of this nature are dealt with through the formal process. In addition, situations such as this also impact on the faith of the community towards the formal legal institutions, which will make victims reluctant to report their cases, or have their cases dealt with via formal legal channels.
East Timor: Security Tight In East Timor's Capital After Gangs Set Houses On Fire Updated:2007-07-23 15:29:20 MYT - DILI, EAST TIMOR: International security forces patrolled EastTimor's capital by foot and air Monday (July 23rd), a day after using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse gangs of youths setting houses and tires on fire.
A blaze at the main compound of Australian-led troops also was being investigated, but Lt. Col. Robert Barnes, a spokesman for the International Stabilization Force, said it was too early to speculate on the cause.
The violence that swept Dili late Sunday (July 22nd) came days after the country's ruling elite failed to decide who should lead a new coalition government.
They remain bitterly divided a year after factional fighting between police and army units spilled onto the streets, killing 37 people and driving 155,000 others from their homes.
Order was largely restored with the arrival of international troops, but isolated incidents continue and with inconclusive parliamentary elections last month the future of the tiny nation remains uncertain.
At least one house was burned to the ground on Sunday (July 22nd) and flames poured from the rooftops of several others. Gangs of boys also set tires on fire in the streets, said U.N. police spokeswoman Monica Rodrigues. "Police dispersed them by firing tear gas and rubber bullets," she said.
An outdoor shed near the Australian troops' heliport also was destroyed in a fire, Barnes said, and international forces were investigating to see what may have triggered the blaze.
Australian and New Zealand troops patrolled the streets of downtown Dili on Monday (July 23rd), as a surveillance helicopter took to the skies. The city was largely calm, however, with residents sweeping away debris.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony of less than a million people, faces major security, humanitarian and economic challenges just five years after it became Asia's newest state in a U.N.-backed independence vote.
Unemployment hovers at around 50 percent, and aid agencies have warned that a fifth of the population is threatened by food shortages after crop failures.
Rival political forces have until July 30th to decide who should lead a new coalition government, but talks headed by President Jose Ramos-Horta last week and again on Monday (July 23rd) yielded no results.
The Fretilin party, which won the most votes in last month's elections but not a majority, and an alliance headed by the new party of independence hero Xanana Gusmao both rejected calls for power-sharing. The two sides are apparently split over who should take the top job of prime minister. (By GUIDO GOULART/AP)
Police fire tear gas, rubber bullets after violence flares in East Timor - The Associated Press Published: July 22, 2007 DILI, East Timor: Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at gangs of youths in East Timor's capital Sunday, after an explosion went off at a base for Australian troops and houses were set ablaze, officials and witnesses said. At least six people were injured in the violence, which occurred days after politicians failed to decide who should lead a new coalition government.
East Timor's ruling elite remain bitterly divided a year after factional fighting between police and army units spilled onto the streets, killing 37 people and driving 155,000 others from their homes.
Order was largely restored with the arrival of international troops, but isolated incidents continue and with inconclusive parliamentary elections last month the future remains uncertain.
An explosion occurred at the heliport used by Australian troops on Sunday night, said Ivan Benitez, a spokesman for the International Stabilization Force, adding that no one was injured in the blast and that an investigation was being conducted.
At least one house was burned to the ground and others were on fire in the capital, Dili. Gangs of boys also were burning tires in the streets, said U.N. police spokeswoman Monica Rodrigues, adding that "police dispersed them by firing tear gas and rubber bullets."
At least six youths were admitted to the main hospital but their injuries were not life-threatening, doctors said.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony of less than a million people, faces major security, humanitarian and economic challenges just five years after it became Asia's newest state in a U.N.-backed independence vote.
Unemployment hovers at around 50 percent, and aid agencies have warned that a fifth of the population is threatened by food shortages after crop failures.
Rival political forces have until July 30 to decide who should lead a new coalition government, but talks headed by President Jose Ramos-Horta on Thursday yielded no results.
Leaders of the Fretilin party, which won the most votes in last month's elections but not a majority, met with an alliance headed by the new party of independence hero Xanana Gusmao, the National Coalition for the Reconstruction of East Timor.
Both sides rejected calls for power-sharing, however, apparently split over who should take the top job of prime minister.
East Timor ends hunt for rebel - The Australian Mark Dodd | July 20, 2007 EAST Timor's government has officially called off the hunt for the country's most wanted man, army rebel, Major Alfredo Reinado, saying it wants negotiations instead.
In a signed proclamation dated June 27, copies of which were sent to the UN and Australian police and military commanders, the country's first law officer said he was offering safe conduct passes for Reinado and his followers.
The deal raises serious questions about the justice situation in the troubled half-island country because only four months ago Australian special forces shot dead five Reinado loyalists in an abortive government-backed arrest bid in the central coffee-growing town of Same.
His safe conduct pass is in stark contrast to the treatment handed down to former interior minister Rogerio Lobato - an Alkatiri loyalist - imprisoned for his role in arming civilian militias dueing the 2006 chaos.
Reinado, a former head of East Timor's military police unit was a central figure in last year's political violence and wanted in connection with the deaths of five people in a gunbattle with loyalist soldiers in May 23, 2006 on the outskirts of Dili.
The declaration appears to indicate heavy pressure from East Timor's political leadership on the office of the prosecutor-general.
''The decisions made on the (June 19) presidential declaration has been a joint decision made by high-level dignitaries and competent,executorial bodies to cease execution of all warrants made for Major Alfredo Reinado and his elements,'' it said, a copy of which was received by The Australian.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer who had earlier called for Reinado's surrender said yesterday Canberra would respect the Timorese decision.
UNMIT: UNPol and PNTL hold seminar on rebuilding the PNTL - 20 July 2007, Dili – In the wake of successful elections, UNPol and PNTL came together on 18 July 2007 at the Ministry of Interior to formulate a joint plan for the reform, restructuring and reconstitution of the PNTL.<br><br>
Also attending the seminar were the Acting Minister for the Interior, Mr Jose Sequeira Somoxo, and the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law, Mr. Eric Tan, along with other Government and nited Nations representatives, as well as representatives from the Timor-Leste Police Development Programme (TLPDP).
The seminar was the start of a series of consultations on the issue of rebuilding the PNTL. The end result of the consultations will be a plan with clear and well-defined priorities, concentrating on four areas: Operations, Administration, Governance and Training. Consultations will also take place with other stakeholders, including civil society, before the plan is finalised.
Mr Tan welcomed the seminar, stressing that both UNPol and the PNTL must shape and believe in the plan. "This is the best way to ensure that we have a PNTL that serves the people of Timor-Leste, one that is efficient, responsive, accountable and effective," he added.
All participants in the seminar were quick to acknowledge the progress that has already been made. In his opening remarks, Mr Tan reminded those present that the PNTL had sent ten officers to serve in the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and that they had performed commendably.
Mr Somoxo followed by saying that we should recognise the valuable cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Timor-Leste, citing the screening of PNTL candidates as an example. Since the crisis of April and May last year, all PNTL officers - over 3000 of them - have been required to register and undergo a screening process. Screening at each of the 12 Districts outside Dili is proceeding on a top-down basis, and screening of Dili District officers is almost completed.
At the end of the Seminar, the PNTL General Commander-Designate, Afonso de Jesus, concluded that the day had been very useful for both PNTL and UNPol. He added that he was looking forward to next week's meeting between the F-FDTL and the PNTL, where complementary operations between the two security institutions would be discussed. For more information please call UNMIT CPIO on +670 723 0453.
UN Congratulates Timorese Poice for Recapturing Escaped Prisoner - New York, Jul 19 2007 2:00PM The head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) today congratulated the police force of the small Asian country for recapturing an escaped prisoner who has been at large since escaping from custody on 17 February.
Jose Da Silva, who was apprehended by the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) in Lusatia earlier this week, had been charged with murder and arson on 6 January.
"This is a very important arrest," said Atul Khare, head of UNMIT. "The rule of law must prevail in Timor-Leste, and criminals must learn that they cannot act with impunity."
Yesterday, UN Police and PNTL held a joint seminar on the reform, restructuring and reconstitution of the police force of the nation which the world body shepherded to independence in 2002.
"An effective PNTL are a key part of this new chapter in the story of Timor-Leste," Mr. Khare noted. 2007-07-19 00:00:00.000
UNDP News Monthly June 2007 Milestone as Key Officials are Admitted into the Judiciary - In a major boost to the judicial system in Timor-Leste, a total of 27 court officials have been added to its workforce following their successful completion of an intensive two and half - year legal training facilitated by the UNDP's Justice System Programme. The officials, better known as court actors, include 11 judges, 9 prosecutors and 7 public defenders.
The purely Timorese group, which graduated on 21st June, 2007 was feted in a colorful ceremony held at the Legal Training Center in Caicoli, Dili. Th e Justice System Programme is implemented by UNDP under the supervision of the Council of Coordination (including the Ministry of Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Prosecutor-General of the Republic) with the generous support of the following development partners: Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United States).
Among the dignitaries who witnessed the graduation ceremony were; the President of the RDTL, Dr. José Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister, Eng. Estanislau de Aleixo da Silva, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Atul Khare, DSRSG/UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen, the President of the Court of Appeal, Dr. Claudio Ximenes, the Prosecutor-General, Dr. Longuinhos Monteiro, the Minister of Justice, Dr. Domingos Sarmento and the Vice President of the National Parliament, Francisco Xavier do Amaral.
Also present were over 400 family, friends and guests who beamed with joy as the graduates received their certifi cates from Dr. José Ramos-Horta, Dr. Atul Khare and Dr. Domingos Sarmento after completing two and a half years of training at the LTC. The Magistrates and Public Defenders also took an oath of office in front of the representatives of their respective justice institutions.
According to Dr. Claudio Ximenes, President of the Court of Appeal, these Magistrates and Public Defenders are the fruit of the generous contributions of the international community, which enabled the deployment of international Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders who have been providing training at the Legal Training Centre and mentoring in the Courts, Prosecution and Public Defender's Office.;
The achievement can also be attributed to the collaboration among national judicial institutions. These institutions made assessments on the status of the justice sector, defined the most effective policies for recruitment and certifi cation of professional jurists, and established necessary mechanisms for implementation of long-term training efforts through the Legal Training Centre.
Dr. Ximenes further reminded the twenty seven court officials that "the duty of the courts in a democratic state is to make justice in the name of the people and to make justice with independence and impartiality".
DSRSG/UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen remarked that it "shows that if the international community continues to support the justice sector we can indeed help Timor Leste to address some of the root causes of the crisis and
assist in the further enhancement of a healthy relationship between the organs of sovereignty".
In congratulating the groups, Mr. Reske Nelson said he is "confi dent that further down the road, today's graduates will be passing on their wisdom and experience to the next group of trainees".
Echoing similar remarks, SRSG, Atul Khare made reference to the responsibilities being placed on the shoulders of these magistrates: "the responsibility to defend the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the responsibility to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and the responsibility to administer justice for the people with fairness, respect, and impartiality".
Notwithstanding this significant achievement, continued support needs to be provided to the national Magistrates and Public Defenders who are only just embarking on their careers. Further assistance will be required for the second LTC course, judges for the Court of Appeal, training of judiciary clerks for the application of new procedural legislation, improvement of office and housing facilities for court actors stationed in the districts, capacity building of private lawyers, and drafting of necessary legislation. Therefore, the UNDP Justice Programme, which has been instrumental in the capacity building of the justice system, will maintain its long-term commitment to this sector. "It is not possible to have a functioning democracy without a functioning justice system" DSRSG /UNDP ResRep Finn observed. UNDP 17 July 2007 http://www.tl.undp.org/undp/for_download/NewsLetter/Monthly%20Newsletter-July%202007.pdf
UNMIT Media Review 12 July 2007
Horta's decision on Reinado is legal - The political expert of the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), Alarico da Costa Ximenes told journalists on Wednesday that the declaration by the President of Republic, Jose Ramos Horta on Alfredo Reinado Alves and his men is legal. He explained that Horta's decision reflects the power of law from the four essential organs in Timor-Leste, namely the national parliament, president, government and judiciary. "The presidential decision is a wise one. It reflects the need for stability in Timor-Leste and the need for Reinado's safety." (STL and DN)
UNMIT Media Review 10 July 2007
Ramos-Horta: the clemency law is full of discrimination - In regards to the clemency law approved by the National Parliament, President Jose Ramos- Horta said that the clemency law not only violates the Constitution of East Timor but it is also full of discrimination. "The clemency law goes against the Constitution of East Timor, because such law only applies to the events of 2006, and does not include the incidents that occurred in 1975 and 1999," said Mr. Horta a few days after visiting Timor Telecom. (TP)
Rodolfo TOR: "there will be a penalty for members of the PNTL" - At a press conference held by the Human Rights and Justice Provedor (PDHJ) on Friday (6/7) in Caicoli, Dili, the UNPol Commissioner, Rodolfo TOR stated that they will investigate the members of PNTL who have abused their power. "Firstly we will investigate and evaluate, and this will include penalties for the guilty members of PNTL, so that the Timorese people can be confident in us," said Mr. Tor. (DN)
Reinado supporter surrenders in E Timor - July 6, 2007 - 9:24PM A supporter of East Timor's most wanted man, Alfredo Reinado, has surrendered to authorities, raising hopes others might soon follow.Authorities said the former East Timorese police officer, known as Garcia, handed in his weapon at a meeting with President Jose Ramos Horta, the head of Australia's forces in East Timor Mal Rerden and the country's prosecutor-general.
Sources said he was the first of Reinado's supporters to hand himself in, and face possible future criminal charges. "Perhaps this may attract others to do so," the source said.
Brigadier Rerden this week renewed his call for Reinado to surrender, saying the rebel leader had been handed an "incredible opportunity" to submit to justice peacefully.
President Ramos Horta called off the lengthy Australian-led manhunt for the rebel leader during last month's election campaign to allow for a peaceful negotiated surrender.
It is unclear whether a warrant is still out for his arrest. Reinado, who is armed with weapons stolen from police posts, managed to evade a raid on his hideout in Same in March, when Australian troops killed five of his supporters. He has been on the run since last August when he led a breakout from a Dili prison where he was being detained over his role in last year's crisis of violence when 37 people were killed when elements of the Timorese army and police forces turned on each other. AAP
UNDP Justice System Programme Monthly Newsletter
Swearing-in Ceremony of the first National Magistrates and Public Defenders of Timor-Leste - On 21 June, Timor-Leste witnessed the swearing-in of the first group of twenty seven national Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders, graduated from the Legal Training Centre in Cai-Coli, Dili, Timor-Leste.http://timor-online.blogspot.com/2007/07/monthly-undp-justice-system-programme.html
Brazil and UNDP sign extension of agreement - A protocol extending the Cooperation Agreement in support of the Justice Sector between the Government of Brazil and UNDP was signed on 22 June. Portugal and UNDP also sign extension agreement - The justice sector in Timor-Leste will benefit from the services of seven new legal clerks from Portugal provided as part of a renewed six-month technical assistance under the UNDP's Justice System Programme. http://timor-online.blogspot.com/2007/07/monthly-undp-justice-system-programme.html
UNMIT Media Review 06 July 2007
The law of clemency is unconditional - After visiting to Timor Telecom Company on Thursday (5/7), the President of Republic, Jose Ramos Horta said that the clemency law sent by the national parliament confuses him, so he has sent a letter to the court of appeal. The court can then give him an idea of its constitutionality.
"I have sent the letter to the court of appeal, and I will wait for the response from the court of appeal. If the court of appeal says that clemency law is unconstitutional, I will not promulgate or veto such law. I will listen to civil society and seek another clemency law which can be adopted.
Mr. Horta also revealed that the clemency law passed by national parliament is not constitutionally sound, since the law only applies to authors of the crisis raised last year, excluding the incidents of 1974, 1975 and 1999.
The vice-President of National Parliament, Jacob Fernandes, disagreed, saying that the clemency law approved by national parliament is not unconstitutional, and that is why it was sent to the President for promulgation.
According to Mr. Jacob, clemency laws are either constitutional or unconstitutional, and that decision rests with the court of appeal. (STL and DN)
Alfredo requests more clarity on the dialogue with the state - Benevides Correia, the lawyer of former military police commander, Alfredo Reinado, on Thursday (4/7) in Dili said that that Alfredo needs to know the details of the proposed dialogue with the state, such as talking points and objectives of the dialogue, and how long it will be conducted.Mr. Benevides also said Alfredo will be contacted when his proposed clarifications are accepted by the state. (TP)
PDHJ recommends 12 cases to police - The Human Rights and Justice Provedor (PDHJ) will present its reports and recommendations related to allegations of power abuses by the police to the general commander of PNTL and UNPol. "Tomorrow is the important day for PDHJ to recommend 12 cases to the police," said acting coordinator of PDHJ, Amandio de S Benevides on Thursday (4/7) through a press release. He also explained that the presented recommendations are based on law No. 7/2004 article 3, 5, 27 and 28 about the status of Human Rights and Justice Provedor (PDHJ). He added that the allegations have been made by members of the community from March 2006 March 2007. (TP)
Horta Promises not to Promulgate Clemency Law - Timor Post, 6 July 2007 In her office in Palapaso Thursday (5 July), Researcher for the NGO La'o Hamutuk Santina Soares said that President of the Republic Dr. Jose Ramos Horta promised that he will not promulgate the law on measures of clemency.
"Yesterday we met with the President of the Republic Dr. José Ramos Horta to talk about the clemency law. He (Horta) gave a positive answer, that after he consulted with civil society, organizations related to justice, and the Church, in conscience he will not promulgate the clemency law," Santina recounted.
Santina got this information from a meeting between the NGO Lao Hamutuk with the President of the Republic Dr. Jose Ramos Horta about the law on measures of clemency in Dili yesterday.
She said that Lao Hamutuk hopes that the words of President Horta become reality. Because, according to her, this clemency law is a way to protect the actors in the crisis.
We (Lao Hamutuk) hope that what Horta told us will become reality. Because we feel that this appears to be a law to protect people who commit crimes, she repeated.
Meanwhile, Santina explained that the substance of this law is also against the Constitution of Timor-Leste because it will impact on people who became victims of the crisis.
"At this time, the report of the international Independent Commission of Investigation (KII) has already recommended to the prosecutors to conduct a thorough investigation of the authors of the crisis so that they can be brought to justice. This justice must be nourished, to teach everyone that they cannot commit crimes in the future." (ego)
UNMIT Media Review 05 July 2007
PDHJ calls on the president of the republic to take measures concerning clemency law - According the letter to the press from Human Rights and Justice Provedor (PDHJ) received by DN on Wednesday (4/7), PDHJ called on the president of republic Jose Ramos Horta to veto the clemency law. "Based on constitutional article 151 and PDHJ's statute articles 25 and 28, PDHJ has the right to call on the president of the republic to veto such a law. It is not the appropriate time to create the clemency law," said acting coordinator of PDHJ Amandio de SÃ¡ Benevides. (DN)
PNTL Screening will take place - At a press conference held on Monday (2/7) in Dili, the Director of the Police Academy, Inspector Julio da Costa Hornai, said that the PNTL screening process will resume in the coming days. He explained that the objective of the screening process is to determine the candidate' ability, dedication and professionalism to do the job. The screening will focus on the candidates' behaviors towards community work, knowledge and respect for human rights, detention, etc. (STL, TP and DN) UNMIT Media Review 3/7/07
UNMIT Daily Media Review 04 July 2007
Horta calls on F-FDTL to respect human rights - At an F-FDTL workshop on Human Rights on Tuesday (03/7) in Dili, President Jose Ramos-Horta called upon the F-FDTL to ensure the respect human rights, following their involvement in the crisis last year. "F-FDTL and police officers wear the national uniform, carry weapons and should promote law and order and respect human rights," said Mr. Horta. (STL and TVTL)
Court asked to look at Timor's controversial amnesty law - July 3, 2007 Tuesday 6:14 PM AEST Karen Michelmore DILI July 3 East Timor's Court of Appeal has been asked to decide if a controversial new law which grants widespread amnesties for most crimes committed in the past year violates the tiny country's constitution.
President Jose Ramos Horta today said he would send the bill to the court for an opinion on its constitutionality and whether it violates the country's international obligations, before deciding whether he will sign it or veto it.
East Timor's parliament last month quietly passed the law, which could lead to amnesties for thousands of offenders for a wide range of crimes - from fireams offences, crimes against security to larceny.
"Today I'm actually sending it to the Court of Appeal for an opinion on the constitutional implications, whether such a law is in conformity ... or violates some of the principles of international law, and in particular our constitution," Ramos Horta told AAP.
"I wouldn't sign ... a law with such implications without seeking a clarification from the highest court in this country. "I don't have a view one way or another at the moment, once I study the issue from every angle, one dimension is the constitutionality of the law, another is obviously political implications."
The court has one month to deliver its opinion.
Both the United Nations and East Timor's government watchdog, the Provedor, have raised serious concerns with the law, including that it will hinder efforts to hold people accountable for last year's political crisis in which 37 people were killed.
East Timor's government has said the law will help the country move forward from last year's crisis of violence, with prosecutors grappling with thousands of cases in the fledgling country's justice system and prisons "bursting at the seams".
But analysts fear the law could spark new tensions in the nation, particularly if jailed former government minister Rogerio Lobato is among those to be released.
In a recent report, think-tank the International Crisis Group said the new clemency law was "apparently intended especially for Rogerio Lobato", who in March was convicted of murder and distributing weapons to civilians during last year's crisis.
"According to Mudansa (Fretilin Reform group) members, Lobato agreed to take the blame for the distribution of weapons in 2006 on condition that he would be amnestied," the report says.
"If he is not, he might try to implicate (former Fretilin Prime Minister Mari) Alkatiri. "If he is amnestied, it may have implications for attempts to prosecute others accused of involvement in the 2006 violence."
Deputy Provedor for Human Rights Silverio Pinto Baptista said the victims of last year's violence needed justice. "Just imagine if the perpetrators of a crime, if they just let them free, and the victims can do their own payback," he said. "They will seek their own justice, not through the law. "There's the potential that problems will happen."
PNTL committed human right abuses - The Chief of the Human Rights and Justice Provedor (PDHJ), Sebastiao Dias Ximenes, at a press conference on Friday (29/6) in Dili said that the PDHJ report indicates that many PNTL members committed human rights abuses during the period 2005-2006. (STL
East Timor Legal New now on East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin
East Timor legal news continues on in the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin. ETLJB covers the period from 2008 to the present. The archive and ETLB span almost a decade. It is by no means a comprehensive archive of legal news from East Timor but does cover many subjects and sources that have been of critical importance in the development of East Timor's legal culture since the catastrophic disintegration of the rule of law in 2006. Relates sources are East Timor Law Journal, East Timor Land Studies and United Nations Police in East Timor Security Reports for the period 2006-2008.