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.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Timor-Leste Legal News May 2008 (Part 7)

UNMIT Daily Media Review 30 May 2008

Mario Carrascalão: asking the Government to cancel MAF-Indonesian MOU – TVTL

PSD Member of Parliament Mario Carrascalão is asking the Government to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests-Fishery (MAF) and the Indonesian Government. Last Monday in National Parliament  Mario said the MOU was a secret agreement that will not be beneficial for the population. "We ask this MOU to be cancelled because they signed it in secret. There should not be a law that is created only for the interest of the Government. We do not agree at all with them to sell the land to Indonesia, as stated in the MOU that TL will give a concession to Indonesia for two years to use 100,000 hectares of land," Mr. Carrascalão said.

In response to this, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture said the agreement was not secret because at that time journalists were invited to the signing. "This agreement is not secret. We just want to say that on 15 January 2008 when we signed the MOU, it was witnessed by many journalists as well broadcast on TVTL that the Ministry of Agriculture had signed an MOU with a company named "GT. Leste Birotec," explained Lourenzo Borges Fontes. He added that this agreement may be cancelled if there has been no activity from the time of the signature up to now.

Government: to take 3% of petroleum funds as social subsidiary – Radio Timor-Leste
Prime Minister Xanana said that the government will take 3% of petroleum funds to give subsidize social programs. "The food crisis is an issue around the world, not only in TL. The government should allocate funds to respond to needs of society," said PM Xanana during ameeting with President Horta in the government palace yesterday (29/5).

MSS: plan to have department to protect children rights – Radio Timor-Leste
Minister of Social and Solidarity Maria Domingas Alves said on Thursday (29/5) in Delta Nova, Comoro that the Ministry of Social and Solidarity will create a new program and plan to establish a department to protect child rights. The department will focus on runaways, children who need protection from abuse within the home, and those who are facing violence.

Pardon to Rogerio: MPs ask PR Horta retract his statement - Suara Timor Lorosa'e
Members of the National Parliament are asking President José Ramos-Horta to withdraw his statement concerning the pardon of former Minister of Interior Rogerio Tiago Lobato in which he said that many of the Rogerio's family died in the fight for the country's liberation. "The president should give a pardon based on his authority and not because someone's family died during the struggle," said CNRT MP Natalino dos Santos on Thursday (29/5) in the National Parliament.

The big impact [of the president's pardon] is setting a bad precedent to the nation – therre is no legal basis on which to give a pardon based on family members who died during the war. President Ramos-Horta did not comment on the request even though journalists have been questioning him about the pardon and his recent statements

UNMIT Daily Media Review 28 May 2008

Ministry of Justice: the Government does not need to report to NP about its recommendations
– Diario Nacional and Televisaun Timor-Leste
Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato said that the Ministry of Justice does not need to notify the National Parliament on what they have recommended to the president. Minister Lucia Lobato said that the Constitution does not say that the President has to inform the National Parliament before giving pardon to prisoners. "All of us know, especially the deputies, know the duty in all institutions of the Government based on the Constitution.

What is the authority of Parliament, the Government's authority, President's authority and the Court's authority? Each institution has its own area of authority to carry on as the constitution states.

In connection with the pardoning of prisoners by the President, particularly the deputies want to know about prisoner Rogerio Lobato. I think Constitution does not say that when President wants to extend forgiveness to the prisoners he must inform the deputies in National Parliament. If it is written in Constitution, I humbly ask the deputies to show me the article," said Minister Lobato.

She also said that the Ministry of Justice still has not received any information from the president about granting pardons to the prisoners as the case is being taken to court.

PNTL human rights violation against people continues to take place – Televisaun Timor-Leste
A human rights violation victim, Silvina Assuncão de Jesus yesterday (27/5) reported her case to Committees A and B in the National Parliament. Silvina said the case occurred when the members of the Task Force forced them to leave the place where they were staying. At that time, the members of Task Force destroyed the victim's kiosk, causing here to lose approximately US$200. Ms. Silvina is asking the Government to reimburse her loss.

In a separate matter, Chefe Aldeia of Caicoli, Tomas Jose Goncalves said the Government should inform the local authority in the community before they send the population to live there. "If the Government wants to relocate some part of the population to any place in the community, they have to make an agreement or hold a dialogue with us first so that we can be on the alert and prevent any disturbances. Also, we can know whether those people have their own house or not", explained Tomas.

In response to this case, President of Committee A, Antoninho Bianco said he has instructed the victim to report the incident to the PNTL in order to investigate those members who tortured the population. "Some of members of the Task Force yesterday tortured a victim in Caicoli. In relation to this, we have directly contacted the PNTL and asked them to gather evidence from the victim to thoroughly investigate all the parties involved. Also, we have also contacted the Provider of Human Rights and asked them to also gather evidence from the victim, so that if there is no follow-up from PNTL about this case, the Provider of Human Rights can present this case to General Prosecutor to be investigated", confirmed Bianco.

The Commander of Joint Operation Command Filomeno Paixão said the JOC also has taken any measures regarding human rights violations which were allegedly committed by the members of the F-FDTL during its field operations. According to Filomeno, 73 cases have been identified so far - 39 of the cases were committed by F-FDTL and the other 34 were committed by the UN. 

Ministry of Finance to present audit report
– Televisaun Timor-Leste
Minister of Finance Emilia Pires said that the internal audit report of the former Government is ready to be presented to the parliament. "As discussed with the auditors, auditing processes generally take a long time to do complete as they conduct the audit unit by unit. The report has been prepared and still need some work as the previous government did not have a good system in place. There are no documents and audit archive and it is difficult to find the auditing files," said Minster Emilia.

Fretilin-PUN: unhappy with NP plan to buy 65 cars for MPs – Timor Post
MPs from PUN and Fretilin have reacted strongly to the plan of the National Parliament to buy new 65 cars [Toyota Prado] for the 65 MPs in parliament. According to PUN-Fretilin, saying it is unconscionable to proceed with this plan while the people are suffering.

MP Fretilin Aniceto Guterres said that initially Fretilin did not accept the plan of buying cars for the MPs as people are starving due to the food crisis.  "I concur that the parliament need cars to carry out assessments and other duties, but not cars for every MP," lamented Mr. Guterres.

PUN MP Fernanda Borges said that her party is in the parliament to represent people and she is happy with US$10 per diem [per day. There is no need for cars as the cars are so expensive and will put too much strain on the State budget. "For me this is a serious step to take for the State. If the cars are bought for the current MPs, then the next MPs will also need cars, as we do now," questioned Ms. Borges. 

The Vice President of the National Parliament Maria Paixão said that the cars will be bought to facilitate the work of the MPs and may be sold at a lower price.

ASDT withdraw from AMP – Timor Post, Suara Timor Lorosa'e, Diario Nacional, Radio Timor-Leste and Televisaun Timor-Leste
The Social Democratic Association of Timorese (ASDT) decided to withdraw form the Alliance of Majority in Parliament (AMP) on Tuesday (27/5), saying that the party's has not yet received any response from Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão on its demands.

ASDT President Francisco Xavier do Amaral stated that ASDT is no longer a part of AMP. Any difficulties people face can be directly addressed to CNRT, PD and PSD. Earlier ASDT had proposed to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão to remove the Minister of Commerce and Tourism Gil da Costa Alves and the State Secretary of Environment Abilio Lima from their positions. ASDT is also asking the Prime Minister to place ASDT members as much as possible in the role of ambassador, district and sub-district administrators in areas where the party received the majority of more votes during parliamentary elections.

"Up until now we have no response from the Prime Minister. Such political dynamics may have a strong impact on the economic crisis in the country and people will lose their confidence in the AMP," said ASDT President Xavier do Amaral on Tuesday (27/5) in Lecidere, Dili. Mr. Xavier said that people's lives were getting more difficult as the large state budget approved by the National Parliament has not yet reached the people. "Starting from today (27/5), we declare directly to the people that everything that is going wrong is the fault of AMP fault. Just ask CNRT, PD and PSD. ASDT has no responsibility anymore for decisions made by the AMP Government," he said.

ASDT President Xavier do Amaral also said that he is still concerned with some of his members' statements that they want to be independent MPs in the parliament. "I (Xavier) ask them (ASDT members) to respect to the votes of ASDT supporters when they make decisions. The members in the parliament have rights and in a democracy can do it. But they were not voted in by the parliament/government. They were chosen by the ASDT supporters to take a seat in parliament, so they have to follow ASDT. They are free to discuss anything but we [ASDT] do not regard them as ASDT members and their statements are not considered as representing the party," said Xavier.

Another ASDT member of the NP, João Manuel Carascalão said the as an MP will continue to support the AMP Government.

"As an MP, I have a moral conscience and a big responsibility to serve the community and state, not only the party. In parliament, we are the representatives of the community, not only the representative of the party," said Mr. Carrascalão. With other ASDT MPs, Mr. Carrascalão said that they are not concerned about ASDT's decision concerning them.
UNMIT Daily Media Review 27 May 2008

February 11 case: investigators find 6 more suspects
– Timor Post
Six rebels who used to deny that they were not involved in the case of February 11 should now accept the results of the new investigation into the incident that will be presented to the court. The new investigation shows that they were involved in the attacks against President José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. The National Investigation Department (NID) identified the six rebels as being directly involved in the incident. However, the six rebels deny that they were involved in the attacks of February 11, saying that they were only involved in the Fatuahi case on May 23, 2006.

The General Commander of NID, Nuno R. Gomes said that he presented the information yesterday afternoon (26/5) to the Public Ministry as part of the court hearing on the case. "We did the previous investigation with the Public Ministry based on their statements that they only involved in the Fatuahi case. But the later investigation identified them as being involved in the attempt of February 11," said Mr. Gomes on Monday (26/5). 

Fretilin-PUN: No audit report, Govt tries to hide corruption – Timor Post and Diario Nacional
Members of the National Parliament demand that the Government of the Alliance Majority in Parliament (AMP) immediately release an audit report. The MPs said that the report is very important for them to construct a budget for the implementation of the Government's program. The Chief bench of the National Unity Party (PUN) Fernanda Borges said that up until now, the National Parliament has not received any audit report of the budget which has been executed.

"We demand that the Government send us the report immediately. We want to know whether the budget has been executed properly or not, and if there is any sign of corruption that has been identified or not," said Ms. Borges.

Former Prime Minister and Fretilin's MP Estanislau da Silva said that if the Government does not provide the audit report to the National Parliament, it signals that the current Government is not transparent and is trying to hide existing cases of corruption. "This is clearly shows that the Government is not transparent. They say that Fretilin is corrupt, but they are the worst," said Mr. Estanislau. CNRT MP Aderito Hugo said that every financial report is delivered late to the National Parliament because it has to be annexed with the audit results. The audit report, which was created by international consultants hired by the Government, will also cover the previous government financial report.

Pardon to Rogerio: Minister of Justice still waiting for Horta's decision – Suara Timor Lorosa'e
Even though Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato has made recommendations to PR Ramos-Horta regarding to the reduction of prisoners' sentences, including former Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato, no final decision from the president has been received. "I still not see or receive any report because this is the president's decision. If this is published in the Jornal da Republica, then it will be considered as a law,"  said Minister Lobato on Monday (26/5) in Vila Verde, Dili. Minister Lobato recommended to PR Horta a reduction of three months from Rogerio's sentence of 7 and a half years.

IDPs of Jardim Colmera Camp unhappy with payment process – Suara Timor Lorosa'e and Diario Nacional
The IDPs of Jardim Colmera Camp are unhappy with the payment process of the Government's recovery grants because the funds have still not yet been transferred to IDPs through the Authority Payment Bank (BPA). The Coordinator of Jardim Colmera Camp, Leopoldino Pinto said that all the IDPs in the camp want to return home but until now the Government has not transferred the money to the Bank. "We are asking the Government not to make promises that are confusing," said Mr. Pinto on Monday (26/5).

Manuel Ximenes, an IDP from Baucau, said the Government has to give the money to the IDPs as they are entitled to it. "We came here to get our rights. Do not lie to us, we have suffered a lot," said Mr. Ximenes. 

CNRT MP Maria de Camara 'Bisoi' asked the Government to immediately improve the living conditions of the IDPs, as she does not want people suffering during the time of independence. She also suggested the Government create actions that promote peace in society and harmonious relationships in the community on the return of IDPs to their homes.

Pardon to prisoners: Parliament is awaiting the Government's recommendations – Diario Nacional
The Chief bench of the National Unity Party (PUN) Fernanda Borges is demanding that the Government immediately send the recommendation which it gave to President José Ramos-Horta concerning his pardon of the prisoners. Ms. Borges said that the constitution gives the president the authority to pardon prisoners, but he also has to consider the Government's recommendations.

"What has been said in the recommendation and what justification have they [Government] given regarding the pardons? It is not enough to say that a pardon is being given to a prisoner because of his/her good attitude and behavior," said Ms. Borges on Monday (26/5) Ms. Borges is also questioning whether the president's constitutional authority of the president is being used in a thoroughly legal manner. "President has authority, but he must use it responsibly, not using without any consultation," she added.
UNMIT Daily Media Review 26 May 2008

UNDERTIM: only force could lead to an early election
– Timor Post

UNDERTIM Vice President Faustino de Jesus-Renan Selak said that only force could lead to early elections but this would be suicide. Renan Selak said that the early election might take place if the Government failed twice in passing its programs in the National Parliament. "If the opposition has the power to lobby other parties to vote against Government's programs [in the National Parliament], the early elections will be realized," said Mr. Selak in the National Parliament. He said that his party is joining with AMP to block Fretilin's attempt to force early elections and save AMP and its programs.

The petitioners' position: AMP-Fretilin recommend civilian life – Timor Post and Diario Nacional
The AMP and Fretilin bench in the National Parliament recommend that the petitioners return to civilian life as they had left the military when they deserted F-FDTL. PSD Member of Parliament Riak Leman said that the petitioners do not deserve to return to the F-FDTL. He said that the petitioners were involved in two situations: First, from the military's point of view they are deserters as they by abandoned their barracks. Second, the petitioners' case, which was pending for some time, was destroyed when Salsinha and Alfredo attacked PR Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana on 11 February.

"They should have resolved their problem by the time the abandoned the HQ. Why didn't they want to resolve their problem, instead abandoning their HQ? So, some of their friends who did not follow them will not be happy to see them again. Therefore I have reminded the petitioners' leader former Major Tara to think ten times if they want to return to military," he said.

PSD President Mario Viegas Carrascalão said that the credibility of F-FDTL will be damaged if it decides to accept the petitioners' return. The Fretilin chief of bench in the National Parliament, Aniceto Guterres said that previously his party suggested that, based upon their decision to leave F-FDTL and the ensuing 2006 crisis, the petitioners should return to civilian life.

Rogerio's pardon: Horta starts a bad precedent – Timor Post
Even though the reduction by three months of the former Minister of Interior's sentence has implemented, criticism of PR Ramos-Horta continues. According to AMP leaders, PR Ramos-Horta has constitutional authority to grant a pardon to former Minister of Interior Rogerio Tiago Lobato. But they do not agree with Horta's statement that he pardoned Lobato because he is the only survivor [of the resistance] in Timor-Leste or even in the world.

"It is wrong and would destroy the nation's judicial system if Rogerio becomes a special citizen. Under the law, our constitution guarantees equal rights to all the citizens," said AMP member Hugo da Costa on Friday (23/5) in the National Parliament. MP Hugo said that PR Ramos-Horta's attitude signals a start to creating impunity for criminals in the country. Those who think of themselves as heroes may freely commit crimes and then be pardoned.

The President of the National Parliament Fernando Lasama de Araujo said that PR Horta's decision has generated criticism. Yet, it is fait accompli - everyone has to respect it as the constitution gives the President the authority to take such action.

Ed: Are the petitioners' problems being solved transparently? – Timor Post
Even though moving slowly, but there are positive signs that the Government of the Alliance Majority in Parliament is solving the petitioners' problems. The Government said that the petitioners who want to be civilians will be compensated and the others will be given an opportunity to return to the military with good conscience. The result of the recent questionnaire announced in the last few weeks showed that 356 petitioners chose to be civilian and other 339 decided to return to the military.

The Government might be afraid of the number of the petitioners who want to return to the military – because they only filled in answers on questionnaires. The Government through its Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and Security Xanana Gusmão should try another way to brainwash the 339 petitioners who want to rejoin the military so that they would change the mind and follow the same path as the other 356 petitioners, to be civilians.

The Prime Minister is using this policy to discriminate against the petitioners who want to return to the military by saying that it is better for the petitioners who only finished primary school to return to civilian life. The statement made the 339 reconsider their personal preference. Only 80 petitioners out of 339 still want remain to return to the military.

We should agree with the Government policy, because the recruitment system will different as done previously. Now we need a professional force.

The concern is why questions about the petitioner's level of the education were not included among the items on the questionnaire. Of course, we do not know! We wait …

MP PUN says State institutions should work together – Suara Timor Lorosa'e
MP PUN Fernanda Mesquita Borges said that in order to achieve a good judicial system in the country, State institutions such as Presidency, National Parliament, Government and Tribunal should work together to achieve this. Otherwise everything will be out of sync and reckless if the state organs always criticize each other, politicians fight for position, and influence the nation's judicial system. Regarding the president's comment on the tribunal system is operating without direction, Fernanda Borges said that the case has to be brought to the Prosecutor-General in order to investigate the failed judicial system in the country. "We can not put someone in prison without a decision from the tribunal. They have to be investigated to determine how this could happen," said Fernanda Mesquita Borges to the journalist of STL on Friday (23/05) at the National Parliament.

Ed: buying luxurious cars, parliament should give clarification – Suara Timor Lorosa'e
All people recognize that Timor-Leste is the poorest nation in the world. It is true as we only achieved self-determination a few years ago. We are still too young. Every year we face poverty and other problems. If we solve one problem today, tomorrow we will face another. The prices of goods are getting higher and agriculture products are still limited. Heavy rains come with storms which and destroy the farmer's corn crops.

One problem that the Government is solving is the case of the petitioners. The second one is the veterans. However, progress on these two problems is not solving the problems of the population as a whole.

It is confusing. In an environment of so many problems, the President of the National Parliament, Fernando Lasama de Araujo stated that in one year the parliament will buy 65 luxurious cars to facilitate the daily work of all the MPs. "We will buy working cars. With half of the budget we will buy 65 luxurious cars for the MPs," said Fernando Lasama on Friday (23/5) in the National Parliament.

The cars will be [Toyota] Prado. The price will be US$20,000–$30,000: too much money. Big confusion: after MPs end their elected mandate, then the cars will be theirs. The decision might be considered an injustice as public money will be used for private gain.

The National Parliament has to clarification the situation. The money, which is coming from petroleum fund, belongs to Timorese people, not the leaders. How lucky are the MPs – coming in as poor people - but after one or two yyears in the NP, owners of luxurious cars. If it is so, then the National Parliament is not representative – but a place to become rich.
UNMIT Daily Media Review  23 May 2008

Only 80 petitioners still want to return to the military
- Timor Post

Of  the 339 petitioners who indicated a preference for rejoining the military, only 80 of them still want to return since Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão asked them last week to re-consider their choice of military or civilian life. "There are 80 petitioners who have not changed their decision to return to the military,†said one of the petitioners who still wants to be rejoin the military due to his love for the F-FDTL. He also said those other petitioners who changed their minds and now want to enter civilian life are illiterate and have some health problems. Some of them believe that if they return to the military, then they will not receive Government compensation.

Recently the numbers of the petitioners who want to become civilians increased from 356 to 605 out of a total of 685.

The Vice President of the National Parliament Vicente Guterres said that it was good for the petitioners to be civilians as they have abandoned their barracks. Mr. Guterres said that when there is problem within an institution, the problem should be solved internally, not outside of the institution. "As they have brought the problem out of the institution, if I were them, I would not go back," said Mr. Guterres.

Democratic Party MP Adriano do Nascimento said that he did not agree with the Prime Minister who had earlier said that it was good for the petitioners, who are illiterate, to return to civilian life. This statement dishonoured the petitioners, he said. "The petitioners left their barracks because of political matters and actions taken by political leaders [not because they are illiterate],†said Mr. Nascimento.

Be model for the world: PR Horta asks permission for the UN and NGOs to visit Becora prison – Timor Post
On his visit to Becora Prison on Wednesday (21/5) PR Ramos-Horta asked prison guards to allow the Red Cross, UNMIT Human Rights and national NGOs to visit Becora Prison in order to ensure transparency.

"I am requesting this prison to allow visits from the National Red Cross, UNMIT Human Rights and NGOs who work for human rights, not for NGOs who are working for politics. If we do this, then our prison will be a model for the world, a prison that hides nothing and reveals everything,†said PR Horta. PR Horta also said that he visited Becora Prison as a Nobel Peace Laureate, not as President, Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs. President's pardon: 10 prisoners freed, Rogerio's sentence reduced – Timor Post

Out of 84 prisoners who received pardons from PR Ramos-Horta on Independence Day, 20 May, ten of them have received a full pardon. Rogerio Tiago Lobato, the former Minister of Interior, received only a reduced sentence.

Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato said that the Government's preference is for the president to only reduce Rogerio's sentence by three months as the court had sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Minister: Government recommends reduction of three months of Rogerio Lobato's sentence – Suara Timor Lorosa'e
Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato has recommended to the President Jose Ramos-Horta that he reduce only three months of the prison term given to the former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato because of his involvement in arming civilians which caused many people to be killed in 2006. She made the statement to journalists on Wednesday (21/05) while accompanying president Ramos-Horta's on his official visit to Becora Prison. "The government has recommended only three months reduction of sentence but it depends on the president's decision,†said Lucia Lobato.

According to the president, the pardon is based on the former Interior Minister's past struggle to free the country. He said that Rogerio has also lost many of his family who sacrificed their lives during the war. Dili's international airport is named after Nicolau Lobato, the former Minister's younger brother who was killed during the struggle for independence.

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