2008 Human Rights Reports: Timor-Leste
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
February 25, 2009
Timor-Leste is a multiparty parliamentary republic with a population
of approximately 1.1 million. President Jose Ramos Horta was head of
state. Prime Minister (PM) Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao headed a four-party
coalition government formed following free and fair elections in June
2007. In an exchange of gunfire with armed rebels on February 11,
President Ramos Horta was wounded seriously and PM Gusmao was unhurt.
As provided for in the constitution, the government imposed a state of
emergency from February through May. International security forces in
the country included the UN Police (UNPOL) within the UN Integrated
Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and the International Stabilization
Force (ISF), neither of which was under the direct control of the
government. The national security forces are the National Police
(PNTL) and Defense Forces (F-FDTL). While the government generally
maintained control over these forces, there were problems with
discipline and accountability.
Serious problems included: police use of excessive force and abuse of
authority; perception of impunity; arbitrary arrest and detention; an
inefficient and understaffed judiciary that deprived citizens of due
process and an expeditious and fair trial; conditions in camps for
internally displaced persons (IDPs) that endangered health, security,
education, and women's and children's rights. Domestic violence, rape,
and sexual abuse were also problems.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no politically motivated killings during the year; however,
on February 11, F-FDTL guards shot and killed Major Alfredo Reinado
and one of his followers when a band of rebels led by Reinado gained
entry to the presidential compound; President Ramos-Horta was severely
wounded. A separate group of Reinado's followers attacked the convoy
of PM Xanana Gusmao. Gusmao was unhurt. The government formed a joint
PNTL/F-FDTL command to apprehend the attackers, and parliament
declared a state of siege that imposed a curfew, relaxed legal
requirements for searches and arrests, and restricted demonstrations.
The application of the state of siege was modified as a state of
emergency and extended on several occasions until Reinado's second in
command, Lieutenant Gastao Salsinha, and 11 others surrendered to the
authorities on April 29.
On April 5, in Bobonaro District, an F-FDTL member shot and killed a
civilian who reportedly threatened the F-FDTL member with a machete.
The authorities investigated the case and forwarded it to the
prosecutor general for further action.
Legal proceedings were ongoing against Luis da Silva, an off duty
officer accused of shooting a member of then candidate Xanana Gusmao's
security detail at a political rally in Viqueque in June 2007.
There were no developments in the inquiry into the August 2007 case of
a PNTL unit firing into a crowd in Viqueque, killing two.
The four F-FDTL soldiers sentenced to 12 years, 11 years, and 10 years
for the 2006 killing of eight unarmed PNTL personnel were serving
their sentences at the military prison at F-FDTL headquarters in Dili.
A local human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) and government
contacts expressed concern that there was no civilian oversight of the
There were no developments in the following 2006 cases: the January
killing of three men by Border Patrol Unit personnel; the May mob
killing of a police officer in Ermera District; and the May killing of
six persons in a house set on fire by a mob. Investigations into other
cases stemming from the April-May 2006 violence continued. Some
individuals identified for investigation in the 2006 UN Commission of
Inquiry Report were subpoenaed to testify regarding their role in
illegal arms distribution.
In May President Ramos-Horta granted pardons to a number of persons
including former interior minister Rogerio Lobato sentenced for
illegally distributing weapons during the 2006 violence and Joni
Marques, a pro-Indonesia militia leader, sentenced for multiple
killings in 1999 (see section 1.d.).
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices, and the government generally
respected the prohibition against torture; however, there were
incidents of cruel or degrading treatment of civilians by police and
military personnel. Members of Parliament, NGOs, UNMIT, and the Office
of the Ombudsman received numerous complaints of use of excessive
force by personnel of the Joint Command or regular PNTL during the
state of emergency. The Office of the Ombudsman eventually recorded 44
such cases, most involved beatings, mistreatment during detention,
threats made at gunpoint, and intimidation. As a result one army
officer was removed from the field of operations, 14 soldiers were
verbally disciplined, and, at year's end, the remaining cases were
UNMIT's human rights unit and NGOs received numerous complaints of
excessive force and degrading treatment by the Dili Task Force, a
rapid reaction PNTL unit created in December 2007. On May 24, Task
Force members severely beat four residents including a woman of Dili's
Quintal Boot neighborhood. The case was under investigation by the
PNTL's National Investigation Division (NID).
Joint Command forces operating in Ermera during the state of emergency
reportedly carried out beatings, intimidation, and unlawful searches
and violated villagers' freedom of movement. On March 12, 17 persons
complained of mistreatment; and on April 14, 13 persons reportedly
were ill treated, two of whom required hospitalization.
F-FDTL personnel deployed in western districts were involved in
violent altercations unrelated to their duties. In May a soldier at a
wedding party in Letefoho Sub-District, Ermera, opened fire after a
woman refused to dance with him. The woman was injured and taken to
Dili hospital for treatment. The NID reportedly investigated and sent
its findings to the prosecutor general. In a May 11 incident in
Lahomea, Bobonaro, F-FDTL soldiers severely beat two merchants. One of
the merchants required hospitalization.
In January three PNTL officers were arrested in Suai for having
participated in gang-related violence that resulted in 15 persons
injured and 20 houses burned.
Delay or refusal by police to investigate allegations of rape or
domestic violence was a common problem.
At year's end there were no developments in the March 2007 case in
which an armed group wearing F-FDTL uniforms attacked and burned the
homes of six families in Dili.
At year's end there were no developments in the March 2007 case when
six to 10 F-FDTL uniformed persons attacked several homes near the
At year's end there were no developments in the March 2007 case when
F-FDTL members detained and allegedly beat approximately 10 persons
for disorderly conduct.
At year's end there were no developments in the April 2007 case when
PNTL officers in Covalima District shot and beat a civilian.
Other abuses included intimidation of IDP camp residents by groups
operating both in and outside of the camps and attacks and
intimidation of communities or individuals.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
There were four government-run prisons, located in Dili, Baucau, and
Gleno. Prisoners from the Baucau prison were transferred to Dili's
Becora prison pending renovation. Government and local NGO figures
listed the number of prisoners in the country as 179. Prison
conditions generally met international standards. The F FDTL opened a
military prison facility at its headquarters in Dili. A local human
rights NGO and government contacts expressed concern that there was no
civilian oversight of the military prison.
UNMIT personnel noted allegations of mistreatment of detainees by
prison guards during the first 72 hours of imprisonment and a lack of
special facilities for the mentally ill who consequently were detained
along with other prisoners. Despite some improvements with regard to
access to food and water, police station detention cells generally did
not comply with international standards and lacked sanitation
facilities and bedding.
The government and international forces permitted prison visits by the
International Committee of the Red Cross and independent human rights
observers. The ombudsman was able to conduct almost daily detainee
monitoring in Dili.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, there were
many instances in which these provisions were violated, often because
magistrates or judges were unavailable.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but the chief
of defense, the F-FDTL's senior military officer, exercised effective
day-to-day command. Civilian secretaries of state for public security
and defense oversaw the PNTL and F FDTL, respectively. With the
formation of the Joint Command, the F-FDTL assumed a role in
maintaining public order.
UNMIT continued efforts to reform, restructure, and rebuild the PNTL
in the wake of its collapse during the political crisis of 2006. A
central element was a "screening" to ensure that each of the
approximately 3,000 PNTL officers was checked for integrity and past
crimes or misbehavior. Following screening, officers were to go
through renewed training and a six-month UNPOL mentoring program. By
year's end approximately 2,700 officers had completed the UNPOL
Each of the country's 13 districts has a district PNTL commander who
normally reports to the PNTL general commander. In spite of
improvements due to the UNPOL training, the PNTL as an institution
remained poorly equipped and undertrained, subject to numerous
credible allegations of abuse of authority, mishandling of firearms,
Some police officers did not pass the vetting process and were on
suspension pending further investigation. UNMIT conducted human rights
training sessions for senior PNTL personnel, and the PNTL received
training from bilateral partners.
The PNTL established a Professional Ethics Office (PEO) to enforce
discipline and accountability. The F-FDTL Military Discipline
Regulations relied on a disciplinary process for alleged human rights
violations. However, there was no formal accountability mechanism in
place to address misconduct in the military, and lack of capacity
hindered the progress of investigations within the police. Government
contacts and NGOs reported that cooperation from the police with
civilian authorities in serious disciplinary cases was limited.
More than 1,100 ISF personnel from Australia and New Zealand supported
the police and security forces.
During the state of emergency, the Joint Command helped provide
security at key Dili installations and escorted humanitarian convoys.
On some occasions, in violation of clear rules of engagement requiring
that the police (international or domestic) be called first in the
event of any security threat, the F-FDTL resorted to firing warning
shots as an initial response.
Arrest and Detention
The law requires judicial warrants prior to arrests or searches,
except in exceptional circumstances; however, this provision was often
violated. The extreme shortage of prosecutors and judges outside of
the capital contributed to police inability to obtain required
Government regulations require a hearing within 72 hours of arrest to
review the lawfulness of an arrest or detention and also to provide
the right to a trial without undue delay. During these hearings, the
judge may also determine whether the suspect should be released
because evidence is lacking or the suspect is not considered a flight
risk. The countrywide shortage of magistrates meant that police often
made decisions without legal authority as to whether persons arrested
should be released or detained after 72 hours in custody. This
contributed to an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity. Judges may
set terms for conditional release, usually requiring the suspect to
report regularly to police.
During the state of emergency, there were at least 11 cases of arrests
by the Joint Command or regular PNTL that were not in compliance with
legal procedures. There were numerous reports of F-FDTL detaining
civilians contrary to rules of engagement, and in at least three cases
the F-FDTL removed detainees from PNTL custody. In one case soldiers
removed a suspect from UNMIT police custody.
The law provides for access to legal representation at all stages of
the proceedings, and provisions exist for providing public defenders
to indigent defendants. However, there was an extreme shortage of
qualified public defenders, and many indigent defendants relied on
lawyers provided by legal aid organizations. A number of defendants
who were assigned public defenders reported that they had never seen
their lawyer, and there were concerns that some low priority cases
were being delayed indefinitely while suspects remained in pretrial
In 2003 the Court of Appeals ruled that the pretrial detention limit
of six months and the requirement that such detentions be reviewed
every 30 days need not apply in cases involving certain serious
crimes; however, the 30-day review deadline was missed in a large
number of cases involving less serious crimes, and a majority of the
prison population consisted of pretrial detainees.
In May the president commuted the sentences of and pardoned 94
persons. The pardons and commutations were granted without any formal
evaluation of the beneficiaries' conduct in prison or ability to
reintegrate into society. Some politicians and NGOs challenged the
legality of the president's actions.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides that judges shall perform their duties "independently
and impartially" without "improper influence" and requires public
prosecutors to discharge their duties impartially. However, the
country's judicial system faced a wide array of challenges including
concerns about the impartiality of some judicial organs, a severe
shortage of qualified personnel, a complex and multi-sourced legal
regime, and the fact that the majority of the population does not
speak Portuguese, the language in which the laws were written and the
courts operated. Access to justice was notably constrained.
The court system includes four district courts (Dili, Baucau, Suai,
and Oecussi) and a national Court of Appeals in Dili. The Ministry of
Justice is responsible for administration of the courts and prisons
and also provides defense representation. The prosecutor
general--independent of the Ministry of Justice--is responsible for
initiating indictments and prosecutions. Until a supreme court is
established, the Court of Appeals remains the country's highest
Progress in establishing justice sector institutions and recruiting
and training qualified judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys was
slow. By year's end, 13 judges, 13 prosecutors, and 11 public
defenders of Timorese nationality were assigned to the country's
judicial institutions. However, the system remained heavily dependent
on international judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. Private
lawyers continued to represent the majority of defendants in the
A court operating five days a week was established in Baucau. However,
judges, prosecutors, and public defenders assigned to other districts
outside Dili did not reside in these areas. Their intermittent
presence continued to severely hamper the functioning of the judiciary
outside the capital.
Personnel shortages and administrative issues disproportionately
affected operations of the Oecussi and Suai district courts, which
operated at irregular intervals throughout the year. The trial process
often was hindered by nonattendance of witnesses due to lack of proper
notification or lack of transportation. The shortage of qualified
prosecutors and technical staff in the office of the prosecutor
general hampered its work and resulted in a large case backlog.
International prosecutors continued to handle sensitive cases related
to the 2006 crisis. At year's end there was a nationwide backlog of
approximately 5,400 cases. The length of time for cases to come to
trial varied significantly, with some delayed for years and others
tried within months of accusations.
The law provides for the right to a fair trial; however, the severe
shortages of qualified personnel throughout the system led to some
trials that did not fulfill prescribed legal procedures. Trials are
before judges. Except in sensitive cases, such as crimes involving
sexual assault, trials are public; however, this principle was
inconsistently applied. Defendants have the right to be present at
trials and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Attorneys
are provided to indigent defendants. Defendants can confront hostile
witnesses and present other witnesses and evidence. Defendants and
their attorneys have access to government-held evidence. Defendants
enjoy a presumption of innocence and have a right of appeal to higher
The legal regime is complex and was inconsistently applied. Pending
development of a complete set of national laws, Indonesian laws and
the UN's transitional regulations remained in effect. The constitution
stipulates that UN regulations supersede Indonesian laws; however,
this was inconsistently applied. Also of concern was confusion
regarding how to apply different sources of law, particularly in
criminal cases where the Indonesian penal code remained in effect, but
procedure was governed by a national criminal procedure code.
The Court of Appeals operated primarily in Portuguese. The UN
regulations, many of which remained in force, were available in
English, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Tetum (the language most widely
spoken in the country). Laws enacted by parliament, intended to
supplant Indonesian laws and UN regulations, were published in
Portuguese but were seldom available in Tetum. Litigants, witnesses,
and criminal defendants often were unable to read the new laws. Trials
are required to be conducted in Portuguese and Tetum. However, the
quality of translation provided in court varied widely, and
translations into Tetum were often incomplete summaries. The
prevalence of other local languages compounded this problem in the
districts, particularly in Oecussi.
As in previous years, concerns arose over the lack of
witness-protection arrangements. In many violent crimes, witnesses
were unwilling to testify because of the high potential for
retribution against themselves or their families. Court personnel also
reported increased concern regarding their own safety.
The 2006 UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report recommended prosecution
of more than 60 individuals for criminal culpability in the April and
May 2006 crisis and investigation of more than 60 others for possible
involvement in these crimes.
Despite COI recommendations, the government had not brought charges
against the F-FDTL commander or the former minister of defense.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Civil judicial procedures were beset by the same problems encountered
by the judicial system as a whole. The ombudsman can sue government
agencies/agents for alleged human rights abuses; however, its approach
has been to refer findings of abuse to the prosecutor general or the
leadership of the PNTL or F-FDTL.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected
these prohibitions in practice; however, there were reports of
arbitrary interference with privacy and home. During the state of
emergency, there were at least three instances in which the PNTL or
Joint Command carried out searches without warrants.
A 2003 land law broadly defines what property belongs to the
government and has been criticized as disregarding many private
Many Dili residents arrived as internal migrants after 1999 and
occupied empty houses or built houses on empty lots. The majority of
properties in Dili are deemed state property, and in previous years
the government evicted persons from land identified as state property
at times with little notice and with no due process.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the
government generally respected these rights in practice. Individuals
generally could criticize the government without reprisal, and a UN
executive order decriminalizes defamation. However, an Indonesian
penal code provision that criminalizes defamation also remains in
place. At year's end the Ministry of Justice was pressing charges
against a journalist under this defamation law.
There were three daily newspapers, three weeklies, and several
newspapers that appeared sporadically. All frequently criticized the
government and other political entities editorially.
Television and radio broadcasts were the primary sources for news.
However, there was often no reception outside Dili and district
capitals, and broadcasts were often irregular due to technical or
resource problems. Many persons did not have access to televison or
On January 18, PM Gusmao threatened to arrest journalists who publish
On February 22, PNTL officers arrested and beat a journalist who was
reportedly in violation of curfew; after 11 hours he was released. The
state secretary for security publicly apologized for the use of
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or
reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms.
Internet access was extremely limited.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
The government generally did not restrict academic freedom or cultural
events. A 2004 law requires that academic research on Tetum and other
indigenous languages be approved by the National Language Institute.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The government suspended freedom of assembly and the right to
demonstrate during the state of emergency. These rights subsequently
were restored in full.
The law on assembly and demonstrations establishes guidelines to
obtain permits to hold demonstrations and requires police be notified
four days in advance of any demonstration or strike. The law also
stipulates that demonstrations cannot take place within 100 yards of
government buildings or facilities, diplomatic facilities, or
political party headquarters. In practice demonstrations were allowed
to take place without the requisite advance notification, and the
100-yard regulation was rarely observed. However, in August PNTL
officers cited the rule in arresting over 50 students during a
demonstration at the national university (within 100 yards of the
parliament). The detainees were released after six to 72 hours of
detention, and there were no reports of mistreatment.
Freedom of Association
The constitution provides for freedom of association, and the
government generally respected this right in practice.
c. Freedom of Religion
The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government
generally respected this right in practice. An overwhelming majority
of the population was Roman Catholic. There were small Protestant and
Muslim minorities who were generally well integrated into society.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Outside of the capital, non-Catholic religious groups were at times
regarded with suspicion. There were reports that Catholics who
converted to other religions were subjected to harassment and abuse by
There was no indigenous Jewish population, and there were no reports
of anti-Semitic acts.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2008 International Religious
Freedom Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt.
d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration,
The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign
travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally
respected these rights in practice. During the state of emergency, in
addition to curfews and roadblocks that interfered with freedom of
movement, persons in the Emera District, where the remnants of
Reinado's followers were believed to be, were obstructed from going to
their coffee farms. The government cooperated with the Office of the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations
in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced
persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless
persons, and other persons of concern.
Travel to the western enclave of Oecussi required visas and lengthy
stops at various Indonesian military, police, immigration, and customs
The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not employ it.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
At year's end approximately 30,000 residents remained displaced from
their homes as a result of the 2006 crisis. Between February and
April, international donors and the government ceased monthly food
distributions in the camps. The Ministries of Social Solidarity and of
Health, with the support of international donors, set up mobile
clinics to provide basic health care to residents and provided
transportation and logistical support to assist with relocation
efforts. In addition the PNTL established security posts in
neighborhoods where residents resettled. Around Dili, large IDP camps
at the Nicolau Lobato Airport, National Hospital, Dom Bosco, and Dili
Port were successfully disbanded. Over 40,000 IDPs left the IDP camps
beginning in April and returned to their homes under a government
subsidy program which granted families up to $4,500 (the U.S. dollar
is the local currency) to leave the camps voluntarily and rebuild
their homes. The absence of laws safeguarding land and property
ownership remained a serious long term concern for some IDPs.
Protection of Refugees
The laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status to
persons in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the
Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government
established a system for providing protection to refugees. The
government granted refugee status or asylum in the past; however,
there were concerns that the country's regulations governing asylum
and refugee status may preclude genuine refugees from proving their
eligibility for such status. For example, persons who wish to apply
for asylum have only 72 hours to do so after entry into the country.
Foreign nationals already present in the country have only 72 hours to
initiate the process after the situation in their home country becomes
too dangerous for them to return safely. A number of human rights and
refugee advocates maintained that this time limit contravened the 1951
convention. These advocates also expressed concern that no written
explanation is required when an asylum application is denied. In
practice the government provided protection against the expulsion or
return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to
Change Their Government
The law provides citizens with the right to change their government
peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through
periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
The president and parliament were elected in generally free and fair
national elections in 2007. The government headed by PM Gusmao is a
four-party coalition controlling 37 seats in the 65 seat parliament.
There were 19 women in the parliament. Women held three senior
ministerial positions--finance, justice, and social solidarity--one
vice-minister position, and one secretary of state position.
The country's small ethnic minority groups were well integrated into
society. The number of members of these groups in parliament and other
government positions was uncertain.
Government Corruption and Transparency
PM Gusmao and other national leaders publicly acknowledged the extent
of official corruption. The law provides for criminal penalties for
official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law
effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices.
The Ombudsman's Office by law is the institution charged with leading
national anticorruption activities and has the authority to refer
cases for prosecution. During the year the ombudsman referred 16 cases
of government corruption to the Prosecutor General's Office. In August
senior officials in the Ministries of Infrastructure and Health were
dismissed for their involvement in corrupt practices. Also in August,
eight PNTL officials were suspended for having embezzled funds. At
year's end this investigation was continuing.
The country does not have financial disclosure laws. PM Gusmao
required that all cabinet officials in his government complete
financial disclosure documents, but by year's end none had done so.
The law stipulates that all legislation, Supreme Court decisions (when
the court is established), and decisions made by government bodies
must be published in the official gazette. If not published they are
null and void. Regulations also provide for public access to court
proceedings and decisions and the national budget and accounts. In
practice there were concerns that public access to information was
constrained. For example, the official gazette was published only in
Portuguese, although by law it is to be published in Tetum as well.
Moreover, its irregular publishing schedule and varying cost meant
that few journalists, public servants, or others had regular access to
it or knew how to access it.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A wide variety of domestic and international human rights groups
generally operated without government restriction, investigating and
publishing their findings on human rights cases. NGOs also played an
active role in assisting and advising in the development of the
country. National and international NGOs, in coordination with the
ombudsman, monitored human rights issues in IDP camps. The government
generally cooperated with these organizations, but during the year
there were instances of security authorities preventing or resisting
efforts to monitor human rights compliance.
There were credible reports that, following the February 11 attacks,
members of the Joint Command explicitly warned villagers in Ermera
against making human rights complaints. In October a human rights
monitor investigating a case in Maliana was assaulted by the local
PNTL commander. The commander was subsequently replaced and his
successor apologized for the incident.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice is
responsible for the promotion of human rights, anticorruption, and
good governance, and the ombudsman has the power to investigate and
monitor human rights abuses, corruption, and governance standards and
make recommendations to the relevant authorities. The Ombudsman's
Office was located in Dili and had limited ability to conduct outreach
or other activities in the districts. However, in December it opened
its first district field office in Oecussi. The Human Rights
Monitoring Network, made up of 10 NGOs, closely cooperated with the
On July 15, President Ramos-Horta and Indonesian President Yudhoyono
publicly accepted the bilateral Commission on Truth and Friendship's
finding that gross human rights violations had been committed during
and after the 1999 independence referendum. The report assigned
"institutional responsibility" for such violations to the Indonesian
Armed Forces. Presidents Yudhoyono and Ramos-Horta also accepted the
report's other findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
Of the 94 beneficiaries of the May 20 Presidential Decree extending
pardons or partial commutations of sentences, nine had been convicted
of crimes against humanity committed in 1999.
Section 5 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Government regulations prohibit all forms of discrimination.
Nonetheless, violence against women was a problem, and discrimination
against women, persons with disabilities, and members of minority
Gender-based violence remained a serious concern. Although rape is a
crime, failures to investigate or prosecute cases of alleged rape and
sexual abuse were common as were long delays. Authorities reported
that the backlog of court cases led some communities to address rape
accusations through traditional law, which does not always provide
justice to victims. An UNMIT report noted that the definition of rape
may be too narrow to protect women's rights to personal integrity;
spousal rape, for example, under applicable Indonesian law is not a
Key legislation that would address legal gaps or establish clear
guidelines to handle gender-based violent crimes had not been adopted
by year's end.
Domestic violence against women was a significant problem often
exacerbated by the reluctance of authorities to respond aggressively.
Cases of domestic violence and sexual crimes generally were handled by
the PNTL's Vulnerable Persons Units (VPUs). Women's organizations
assessed VPU performance as variable, with some officials actively
pursuing cases and others preferring to handle them through mediation
or as private family matters. VPU operations were severely constrained
by lack of support and resources. UNMIT reported that women
increasingly reported abuses to the police in contrast to previous
years. The police were particularly slow to pursue cases where the
accused occupied a position of power. Police also at times came under
pressure from community members to ignore cases of domestic violence
or sexual abuse.
Government regulations prohibit persons from organizing prostitution;
however, under the Court of Appeals' interpretation of Indonesian
laws, prostitution is not illegal. Nonetheless, in past years there
were reports of women being arrested for prostitution.
There was no law prohibiting sexual harassment, and sexual harassment
was reportedly widespread, particularly within some government
ministries and the police.
There were no reports of gender-based employment discrimination;
however, women usually deferred to men when job opportunities arose at
the village level.
Some customary practices discriminate against women. For example, in
some regions or villages where traditional practices hold sway, women
may not inherit or own property. Traditional cultural practices such
as payment of a bride price and occasionally polyandry also occurred.
The secretary of state for gender issues in the prime minister's
office is responsible for the promotion of gender equality. UNMIT's
Gender Affairs Unit also monitored discrimination against women.
Women's organizations offered some assistance to female victims of
violence, including: shelters for victims of domestic violence and
incest; a safe room at the national hospital for victims of domestic
violence and sexual assault; and escorts to judicial proceedings.
Women's and human rights monitoring organizations formed a committee
to monitor violence against women in the IDP camps and to train camp
managers to identify and pursue such cases.
Although constrained by weak capacity and limited resources, the
government was committed to children's rights and welfare, and fully
engaged with international organizations and NGOs working in this
area. The constitution stipulates that primary education shall be
compulsory and free; however, no legislation had been adopted
establishing the minimum level of education to be provided, nor had a
system been established to ensure provision of free education.
According to UN statistics, approximately 20 percent of primary
school-age children nationwide were not enrolled in school; the
figures for rural areas were substantially worse than those for urban
In rural areas heavily indebted parents sometimes provided their
children as indentured servants as a way to settle the debt. If the
child was a girl, the receiving family may also demand any dowry
payment normally owed to the girl's parents.
Violence against children and child sexual assault was a significant
problem. Some commercial sexual exploitation of minors occurred. The
Indonesian penal code, which remains in effect pending the
promulgation of a national penal code, is ambiguous regarding
statutory rape, specifying only that it is a crime to have intercourse
with someone who has not reached the age of consent for marriage. This
age is specified as 15 in the Indonesian civil code.
Thousands of children remained at risk due to their continued
displacement. The capacity of the state, communities, and families to
protect children was seriously challenged. Incidents of child abuse,
including sexual abuse, were reported both inside and outside the IDP
camps. Underreporting of child abuse was a problem.
Many students living in IDP camps enrolled in schools near their camp.
However, camp-based education was not provided at several IDP camps.
Trafficking in Persons
The Immigration and Asylum Act prohibits trafficking of adults and
children, whether for prostitution or for forced labor; however, in
recent years there were reports of women and girls trafficked into the
country for prostitution. In addition during the year there was
increased concern that growing poverty created conditions conducive to
A local NGO estimated that more than 100 foreign prostitutes in the
capital might be victims of trafficking. Several establishments in the
capital were known commercial sex operations and were suspected of
being involved in trafficking. Trafficking victims in the country were
almost exclusively forced to work in the sex industry. Reports of
trafficking for forced labor have not been verified.
While the police conducted raids on brothels and massage parlors in
Dili during the year, credible reports indicated that some police and
customs officials colluded with such establishments or with those who
trafficked foreign women into the country to work in them.
The government cooperated with various international and NGO programs.
The Alola Foundation, an NGO, provided assistance to female victims of
trafficking and advised the government on trafficking-related issues.
During the year the Prosecutor General's Office expanded its
antitrafficking education campaign and financially supported other
antitrafficking programs with assistance from local and international
NGOs. The government held two workshops for police, military, civil
servants, NGOs, and government officials to raise human trafficking
awareness and combat widespread ignorance about the trafficking issue.
High-level officials served as keynote speakers at the workshops, and
antitrafficking and gender-based violence posters containing emergency
contacts for victims were distributed throughout the districts to
assist potential victims.
Persons with Disabilities
Although the constitution protects the rights of persons with
disabilities, the government had not enacted legislation or otherwise
mandated accessibility to buildings for persons with disabilities, nor
does the law prohibit discrimination against persons with
disabilities. There were no reports of discrimination against persons
with disabilities in employment, education, or the provision of other
state services; however, in many districts children with disabilities
were unable to attend school due to accessibility problems. Training
and vocational initiatives did not address the needs of persons with
disabilities. During the year some persons with mental disabilities
faced discriminatory or degrading treatment due in part to a lack of
appropriate treatment resources or lack of referral to existing
resources. Mentally ill persons were imprisoned with the general
prison population and were denied needed psychiatric care. An office
in the Ministry of Social Solidarity is responsible for protecting the
rights of persons with disabilities.
Some tensions between persons from the eastern districts (Lorosae) and
persons from the western districts (Loromonu) continued, although this
was greatly diminished from levels witnessed during the April and May
2006 national crisis.
Relations were generally good between the ethnic majority and members
of several small ethnic minority groups including ethnic Chinese (who
constitute less than 1 percent of the population) and ethnic-Malay
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
The law makes no reference to homosexual activity. Gays and lesbians
were not highly visible in the country, which was predominantly rural,
traditional, and religious. There were no reported instances of
There were no reported cases of discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The country has a labor code based on the International Labor
Organization's standards. The law permits workers to form and join
worker organizations without prior authorization. Unions may draft
their own constitutions and rules and elect their representatives;
however, attempts to organize workers generally were slowed by
inexperience, a lack of organizational skills, and the fact that more
than 80 percent of the workforce was in the informal sector. In 2004
the government established official registration procedures for trade
unions and employer organizations.
The law provides for the right to strike, but few workers exercised
this right during the year. The law on assembly and demonstrations
could be used to inhibit strikes but was not used in this way.
The Immigration and Asylum Act prohibits foreigners from participating
in the administration of trade unions.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
While collective bargaining is permitted, workers generally had little
experience negotiating contracts, promoting worker rights, or engaging
in collective bargaining and negotiations.
There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Government regulations prohibit forced and compulsory labor, including
by children, and such practices were not known to occur.
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The labor code generally prohibits children under 18 from working;
however, there are circumstances under which children between the ages
of 15 and 18 can work, and there are exceptional exemptions for
children under 15. The minimum age did not apply to family-owned
businesses, and many children worked in the agricultural sector. Child
labor in the informal sector was a major problem. In practice
enforcement of the labor code outside of Dili was limited.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The labor code does not stipulate a minimum wage; however, employers
generally used and employees expected a wage of $85 per month as a
minimum standard. This amount provided a basic standard of living for
a worker and family. The labor code provides for a standard workweek
of 40 hours, standard benefits such as overtime and leave, and minimum
standards of worker health and safety. A National Labor Board and a
Labor Relations Board exist, and there are no restrictions on the
rights of workers to file complaints and seek redress. Workers have
the right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions without
jeopardizing employment; however, it was not clear that they could
avail themselves of this right in practice.
Timor sections of Indonesia Chapter
On July 15, the Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF), established
by the governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste in 2005 to address
human rights violations committed in Timor-Leste in 1999, delivered
its final report to the two governments' presidents. The report
recognized that gross violations of human rights occurred prior to and
immediately after the popular consultation in East Timor in 1999. The
report's recommendations for Indonesia included a human rights
training program with emphasis that the military remain neutral in
political controversies and elections and enhanced authority for
institutions charged with investigation and prosecutions for human
rights violations. The government disseminated the CTF recommendations
within the government, and a variety of ministries began carrying out
On March 23, in West Timor a group of youths allegedly stabbed and
killed Paulino Lopes, a former refugee from East Timor. In response
the Lopes family reportedly gathered a mob of former refugees who
burned 11 houses in a neighboring village. The TNI restored order. No
arrests were made.
On April 7, militia commander Eurico Guterres, who had been sentenced
to 10 years in prison in connection with atrocities that occurred
during 1999 in Timor-Leste, was released from prison based on new
evidence that reportedly proved his innocence.
segunda-feira, março 02, 2009
Por Malai Azul 2 à(s) 09:27
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... "