terça-feira, fevereiro 10, 2009

East Timor editor sued by minister of justice

Marianne Kearney, Foreign Correspondent

Last Updated: February 08. 2009 9:30AM UAE / February 8. 2009 5:30AM GMT DILI //

Press freedom in East Timor, South-East Asia's youngest and
one of its poorest countries, is being stifled as a crusading
reporter is being sued by a government official, rights groups and
local journalists say.

The editor of the investigative newspaper Tempo Semanal is being sued
for defamation by the justice minister, Lucia Lobato, for publishing
a story suggesting that she was awarding contracts to refurbish a
prison and supply prison uniforms to her husband's company and her
associates.

The minister argues that the editor, Jose Belo, violated her privacy
and journalists' ethical code by publishing text messages between the
minister and the business associates.

But using the criminal laws of the country's former occupier,
Indonesia, to charge the journalist threatens media freedom, say the
East Timor and Indonesia Network (ETAN) and the International
Federation of Journalists. Local journalist groups have called on the
government to drop the charges.

"Tempo Semanal and Jose Belo should not have to face charges under
this obsolete and repressive law," said John Miller, national
co-ordinator of ETAN.

"Information about government activities should not be subject to
defamation laws. Rather than attack the messenger, [East Timor's]
leadership should support freedom of expression and encourage a
dynamic, investigative media," Mr Miller said.

Reporting about East Timor's nascent but cash-strapped democracy is
notoriously difficult, say local reporters and media watchers, and
few local outlets are able to produce hard-hitting investigative stories.
The country has a handful of newspapers, with limited circulation
outside Dili, that struggle to survive, one national television
station and a few radio stations. Internet penetration is less than
0.1 per cent.

"I'm just glad that they're printing any newspapers at all," said
Fernanda Borges, an opposition MP.

She said a lack of understanding among Timorese about the importance
of critical reporting and the role of media combined with a climate
of intimidation creates a challenging environment for local media.

If the few reporters who dare to expose corruption and malpractice
are targeted with lawsuits, she fears it will set a dangerous
precedent for the young country.

"This risks shutting down democracy in this country before it has
ever taken hold," Ms Borges said.

"You can have the most brilliant institutions for fighting
corruption, but if people are scared to say, 'boo' to the government,
then there is no way you can fight corruption."

Local reporters say the media outlets' limited budget, which means
there is rarely any money to report outside the capital Dili, and
lack of public support for journalists are additional obstacles.

Mr Borges said it was no accident that as more and more reports were
emerging of alleged collusion and corruption in government, the
minister had filed the lawsuit.

Tempo Seminal is one of the few outlets in the country regularly
reporting on corruption within and outside government.
Jose Belo, the editor, started the paper in 2006 with US$1,500
(Dh5,509) and a laptop.

For the first six months, the staff of 13 journalists worked without
pay. But today he has 20 salaried staff, who have broken some major stories.
If the lawsuit is successful, Belo said it would destroy his paper
and silence the country's braver journalists.

"Journalists will think twice before doing these type of stories.
They will begin writing softer stories and telling lies to the
people," he said.

Ironically, Belo, a former member of East Timor's resistance, is
being sued using the same laws that he fought against, prior to the
country's independence from Indonesia.

East Timor officially became an independent nation in 2002, but has
been using Indonesia's criminal code while parliament drafts a new
code, which would still criminalise defamation.

Ms Borges said it appears to be worse than the Indonesian penal code,
because even defaming someone verbally in private was an offence.
"It's sad for me, and for Timor that almost 10 years to the day since
Timor has been free from Indonesia, they're still using this law," Belo
said.

He acted as a liaison between the Timorese guerrilla movement and
foreign journalists, taking them into the jungle to meet the
separatist commanders and smuggling out tapes and information from
the jungle to Australian, British, German and Japanese media during the
1990s.

He also helped expose human rights abuses by the Indonesian military.
In 1997 he was captured with guerrilla commander David Alex and
jailed for a year.

During his years as a resistance member, he spent a total of three
years in jail. But if found guilty of defamation, he could face six years
jail.

Belo said the court case was particularly disturbing, because Xanana
Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader and current prime minister, came
into office in 2007 vowing to fight corruption and to protect freedom
of speech.

"But with this new government, there has been an increase in
corruption, and they are also very sensitive about media reporting."
Marianne Kearney, Foreign Correspondent

Last Updated: February 08. 2009 9:30AM UAE / February 8. 2009 5:30AM GMT
DILI //

Press freedom in East Timor, South-East Asia's youngest and
one of its poorest countries, is being stifled as a crusading
reporter is being sued by a government official, rights groups and
local journalists say.

The editor of the investigative newspaper Tempo Semanal is being sued
for defamation by the justice minister, Lucia Lobato, for publishing
a story suggesting that she was awarding contracts to refurbish a
prison and supply prison uniforms to her husband's company and her
associates.

The minister argues that the editor, Jose Belo, violated her privacy
and journalists' ethical code by publishing text messages between the
minister and the business associates.

But using the criminal laws of the country's former occupier,
Indonesia, to charge the journalist threatens media freedom, say the
East Timor and Indonesia Network (ETAN) and the International
Federation of Journalists. Local journalist groups have called on the
government to drop the charges.

"Tempo Semanal and Jose Belo should not have to face charges under
this obsolete and repressive law," said John Miller, national
co-ordinator of ETAN.

"Information about government activities should not be subject to
defamation laws. Rather than attack the messenger, [East Timor's]
leadership should support freedom of expression and encourage a
dynamic, investigative media," Mr Miller said.

Reporting about East Timor's nascent but cash-strapped democracy is
notoriously difficult, say local reporters and media watchers, and
few local outlets are able to produce hard-hitting investigative stories.
The country has a handful of newspapers, with limited circulation
outside Dili, that struggle to survive, one national television
station and a few radio stations. Internet penetration is less than
0.1 per cent.

"I'm just glad that they're printing any newspapers at all," said
Fernanda Borges, an opposition MP.

She said a lack of understanding among Timorese about the importance
of critical reporting and the role of media combined with a climate
of intimidation creates a challenging environment for local media.

If the few reporters who dare to expose corruption and malpractice
are targeted with lawsuits, she fears it will set a dangerous
precedent for the young country.

"This risks shutting down democracy in this country before it has
ever taken hold," Ms Borges said.

"You can have the most brilliant institutions for fighting
corruption, but if people are scared to say, 'boo' to the government,
then there is no way you can fight corruption."

Local reporters say the media outlets' limited budget, which means
there is rarely any money to report outside the capital Dili, and
lack of public support for journalists are additional obstacles.

Mr Borges said it was no accident that as more and more reports were
emerging of alleged collusion and corruption in government, the
minister had filed the lawsuit.

Tempo Seminal is one of the few outlets in the country regularly
reporting on corruption within and outside government.
Jose Belo, the editor, started the paper in 2006 with US$1,500
(Dh5,509) and a laptop.

For the first six months, the staff of 13 journalists worked without
pay. But today he has 20 salaried staff, who have broken some major stories.
If the lawsuit is successful, Belo said it would destroy his paper
and silence the country's braver journalists.

"Journalists will think twice before doing these type of stories.
They will begin writing softer stories and telling lies to the
people," he said.

Ironically, Belo, a former member of East Timor's resistance, is
being sued using the same laws that he fought against, prior to the
country's independence from Indonesia.

East Timor officially became an independent nation in 2002, but has
been using Indonesia's criminal code while parliament drafts a new
code, which would still criminalise defamation.

Ms Borges said it appears to be worse than the Indonesian penal code,
because even defaming someone verbally in private was an offence.
"It's sad for me, and for Timor that almost 10 years to the day since
Timor has been free from Indonesia, they're still using this law," Belo
said.

He acted as a liaison between the Timorese guerrilla movement and
foreign journalists, taking them into the jungle to meet the
separatist commanders and smuggling out tapes and information from
the jungle to Australian, British, German and Japanese media during the
1990s.

He also helped expose human rights abuses by the Indonesian military.
In 1997 he was captured with guerrilla commander David Alex and
jailed for a year.

During his years as a resistance member, he spent a total of three
years in jail. But if found guilty of defamation, he could face six years
jail.

Belo said the court case was particularly disturbing, because Xanana
Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader and current prime minister, came
into office in 2007 vowing to fight corruption and to protect freedom
of speech.

"But with this new government, there has been an increase in
corruption, and they are also very sensitive about media reporting."

4 comentários:

h correia disse...

Quer dizer:

O problema não é a possibilidade de corrupção da ministra.

O problema é alguém ter "violado a sua privacidade", ainda que ela tenha usado essa "privacidade" para cometer um crime.

Note-se que ela não negou a autenticidade das mensagens, pelo contrário, pois até alega que faziam parte da sua "privacidade"...

Anónimo disse...

Quando fala privacidade e uma coisa, a funcao da senhora comu minitra e otra coisa.

Nao se pode misturamos os dois funsoens.

A ministra manda sms para o marido iso era privacia pesoal mas a ministra manda sms para recomendar o projecto do governo para os amigos ou familia era abusu de poder e era crime. Ein officialmento os concursos de projeto foi officialmente ein papel nao era con electronica sms iso mostra se a ministra nao era uma pesoa profesional. Porque o prejoto nao era projeto de construsaun a casa privada de ministra con o dinheiro de ministra. Iso era projecto publico con o dinheiro publico poriso a maneira de ministra erada.

A ministra era un maestrado de dereito eu pensa ela sabe bein sobre as leis.

Maubere Anan

Anónimo disse...

Estou de acordo com vos os dois. E melhor fechamos as boucas e nao fazer comentarios sem fundamento.

Esperamos que o Tribunal decidira', para nao dizer que o sistema judicial de TL e fraco.

Maubere-Foho

Anónimo disse...

Subject: HAK press release on defamation case


For Immediate Release



Press Release


Court Decision in Defamation of Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro SH


On 21J anuary 2009 the Dili District Court ruled on the defamation case of Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro against the defendant Francisco Lui alias Aquileong. The court decision freed the defendant Francisco Lui of the charges. This means the complaint of the defendant Francisco Liu and his attorneys of 23 August 2005, and published on 25 August 2005 in the paper Diario Tempo titled “Three Prosecutors Engage in Corruption, Money US$8,600” was not proved to be an act of defamation against Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro, who was and is the Prosecutor-General of Timor-Leste.


To recall, at that time the defendant and his attorneys had lodged a complaint against Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro SH, Mr. Benevides Correia Barros SH, and Mr. Estaque S.P. Guterres SH for Mr. Longuinhos to return Aquileong’s money in accordance with the 6 November 2001 decision of the investigative judge and the decision of the Finance Minister on 7 September 2004. They also asked for a public apology to Aquileong via the media in Timor-Leste within one week.


Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro claimed that the publication of the complaint in the media was an act of defamation, and consequently requested the defendant to pay US$50,000 in damages (indemnity) in a civil case.


To conclude the court proceedings, the Dili District Court decided in the case that Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro was not a victim as a result of the news, his case was not proved. What Mr. Longuinhos felt he lost as a result of the news was not proved, and because of this the Court cleared Aquileong of the accusation by Mr. Longinhos Monteiro who claimed he defamed him.


This press release is to inform the public, including the organs of the State, of the court’s decision in relation to the case referred to above.


We hope that the media will publicize it so that the public will know.


Dili, 10 February 2009


Brief Chronology
Of the Case of Longuinhos et al.


2004:
§ On 18 November 2004, at 21.15 (9:15 pm) at the residence of Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro (next to City Café), Mr. Longuinhos together with Mr. Benevides Barros (President of the Timor-Leste Attorneys’ Association), Mr. Estaquio Guterres (Prosecutor) and two members of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) forced Mr. Francisco Lui (alias Aquileong) to give the three of them 279,000,800 Indonesian Rupiah.
§ After this incident Aquileong, accompanied by his attorneys Mr. Silverio Pinto Baptista and Mr. Tome Jeronimo submitted a complaint to the Department of National Investigation (DIN) of the PNTL. At that time the Chief of DIN, Mr. Marcos took the complaint and indeed registered it as a criminal case with the Prosecutor’s office as complaint No. 174.
§ When Aquileong and his attorneys went to the Prosecutor’s office inquire about the case, several visits over time, they were finally told that the documentation for case No. 174 was lost, demonstrating abuse of power in relation to the lost documentation on the case.


2005:
§ Because the criminal case was not proceeding, Aquileong decided to bring a civil case against Mr. Longuinhos et al. The Civil Suit began by delivering a summons to Mr. Longuinhos et al. on 23 August, requesting their presence at a meeting to resolve the problem. However, Mr. Longuinhos et al. did not attend the meeting.
§ On 25 August, the newspaper DIARIO TEMPO published a story about the case titled “Three Prosecutors Engage in Corruption, Money US$8,600”.
§ Based on the news story in DIARIO TEMPO, Mr. Longuinhos accused Aquileong and his attorneys of criminal defamation in the Dili District Court. Because Mr. Longuinhos, the alleged victim in the case, is the Prosecutor-General, the Dili District Court is not able to prosecute the case. The Dili District Court petitioned the Appeals Court to hear the case. Until now, the case registered as No. 107/05 is held up in the Appeals Court.
§ Beside the criminal case, Mr. Longuinhos also filed a civil suit accusing Aquileong of defamation with the case file No. 82/Civil/2005/Tribunal Distrital Dili.


2008-2009:
§ In the civil case referred to above (Case No. 82/Civil/2005/Tribunal Distrital Dili) the court held its first hearing on 11 July 2008 and concluded its proceedings on 21 January 2009, with a decision that:
1.Freed Mr. Aquileong from accusations of defamation, because the allegation by Mr. Longuinhos was not proved. This means that the story in DIARIO TEMPO was not proved to be defamation, but indeed reality.
2.Mr. Longuinhos must pay the court costs which total 10% of the value demanded (US$50,000) or US$5000.
-end-


Jill Sternberg
Association HAK (Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice)
Rua Governador Serpa Rosa T-091, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel. +670-331-3323 or +670-740-2774 mobile
Email: jillberg@igc.org skype: jillberg

Traduções

Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!

Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006

"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "
 

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.