2004 ETLJ 10 SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE REPORT ON RESEARCH FINDINGS AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR LAND DISPUTE MEDIATION PREPARED BY TIMOR-LESTE LAND LAW PROGRAM
Historial Note: When this article was first published in 2004, it was so objected to by USAID (the funder of the Land Law Program) that it was removed following complaints by USAID to the author's then employer who directed that the article be removed. The suppression of the critique of the Land Law Program's work was anti-democratic and authoritarian. The article has therefore been re-published in the hope that the deficiencies in the Land Law Program might be addressed.
The East Timor Land Law Program is being implemented by ARD Inc., the National University of Timor Lorosa'e and the National Directorate of Land and Property. The LLP is conducting various researches to provide reports and recommendations to the Government of East Timor on land policy options and land legislation.
The complexity of the land problems in East Timor can not be underestimated and is a central policy issue critical for the maintenance of the civil peace, economic development, the guarantee of the basic right to land and opportunities to right as many injustices that occurred in relation to land under the Indonesian occupation as possible. The Land Law Program is considering problems such as land taxation and valuation, the administration and leasing of State land, land held by foreigners, and expropriation.
It has also researched and produced a report on land disputes published at http://landlawprogram.com/web/pdf/research/PolicyRecom-e.pdf and has circulated this report with a request for comments. A round-table conference on this report was held at Hotel Timor on 02 April 2003. The time for discussion of this report was severely restricted to only a few hours and no opportunity was provided for participants to ask questions and receive further information elucidating the report. Due to the importance of the topic, the consultative process would have benefited from more time and opportunity to request further clarification from the authors of the report.
In a discussion of a legal framework for land dispute mediation generally, and in particular, in the context of the possibility of utilising traditional dispute resolution mechanisms, there are several central issues that ought to be addressed.
1. Description of Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
To provide valuable context, the report should be augmented with a description of the existing traditional dispute resolution institutions; their nature, including how they are constituted, how they function and how successful they are at resolving land disputes, the knowledge and competence of the constituent members of the institutions, the rules governing their operation, how procedures before them are initiated, where they continue to operate and where they do not continue to operate in Timor-Leste.
None of this appears in the report.