Amnesty International Report 2007 - Timor Leste
|Publication Date||23 May 2007|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2007 - Timor Leste , 23 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46558ee626.html [accessed 5 May 2015]|
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF TIMOR-LESTE
Head of state: Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão
Head of government: José Manuel Ramos-Horta (replaced Mari Bim Amude Alkatiri in July)
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified
Violence erupted in April and May after around 600 soldiers were dismissed from the army. Up to 38 people died and around 150,000 people were displaced as they fled the fighting. The judiciary and the police remained weak institutions. Impunity continued for human rights violations committed in connection with the independence referendum in 1999.
The UN Office in Timor-Leste had its one-year mission extended from May to August after the violence in April and May. It was replaced by the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, mandated to foster stability and support national elections in 2007, which included up to 1,608 police personnel within a civilian peacekeeping component.
A new Code of Penal Procedure entered into force in January which reinforced guarantees of suspects' rights.
Violence, killings and displacement
In March, around 600 soldiers, more than a third of the armed forces, were dismissed after protesting over discrimination and poor conditions of work. Violent confrontations between the sacked soldiers and their supporters, the armed forces and the police broke out throughout April and May in the capital, Dili. An estimated 38 people were killed and some 150,000 people displaced. In May an international peacekeeping force composed of troops from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal was deployed.
In October an independent UN Commission of Special Inquiry found the violence was "the expression of deep-rooted problems inherent in fragile state institutions and a weak rule of law." It recommended the prosecution of several people, including two former ministers for unlawful use and movement of weapons, and key rebel leaders, and further investigation into former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's alleged role in the illegal arming of civilians.
The government agreed a programme to rebuild the national police force, which disintegrated in Dili in May. Rigorous screening of all existing Dili-based police personnel, as a prerequisite for returning to work, began in September.
Sporadic violence continued throughout 2006, including the burning and stoning of houses. Violence by unidentified groups was reported around camps for the internally displaced. Fighting between gangs resulted in several deaths. At the end of the year, many of the displaced were still living in temporary shelters.
Freedom of expression and assembly
The Law of Assembly and Demonstration, which was adopted in January, contained provisions that could restrict rights of assembly and peaceful demonstration.
A new Criminal Code, planned to enter into force in January, was withdrawn for revision following widespread criticism of provisions restricting freedom of expression. It provided for up to three years' imprisonment for defamation of a public figure.
Past human rights violations
Both the Timorese and Indonesian governments resisted further initiatives to bring to justice all perpetrators of serious crimes in Timor-Leste in 1999. The government failed to consider the report of the national Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, which the President presented to Parliament in November 2005.
The Truth and Friendship Commission, established jointly by Indonesia and Timor-Leste to document the crimes committed in 1999 and to promote reconciliation, started work. Its mandated ability to recommend amnesty for perpetrators of gross human rights violations had been widely criticized.
In July the UN Secretary-General presented a new report on justice and reconciliation for Timor-Leste. The report was prepared in response to the UN Security Council's request to the UN Secretary-General to review the earlier Commission of Experts' report with "a practically feasible approach" which would take into account the views of the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia. It recommended a new UN programme of assistance to include the establishment of an experienced team to complete outstanding investigations into serious crimes committed in 1999 and the strengthening of the national justice system's capacity to prosecute the perpetrators.