28 November 2013

We don't want to be refugees any more

Note: This is a report from 2008 but has been republished here for archive purposes.

DILI -ALthough the refugees in the Kolmera Jardin are ready to leave the camp, some of the refugees still object because the government has forbidden them from living in their houses because there is a new project to be undertaken.

“Our house is not far from the Rapid Response Unit Headquarters in Fatuhada. Now, the government has forbidden us from living in that house. Where will my family go?" said Paulino Amaral in a community dialogue in Bairo Pite with the President of the Repubic, Jose Ramos Horta on Thursday (15/5).

He asked this question to the President because he is confused after the government forbade him from returning to his original house. “I don't want to go from place to place. I am tired of being a refugee" he said.

He added that he does not want to meet the same fate as refugees from the Guido Valadares National Hospital. When they went to return home to the former Police training centre in Kaikoli, they were refused by the police.

The Secretary of State for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters, Jacinto Rigoberto Gomes de Deus, said that refugees whose houses were noted in a government program for other development, were not permitted to return to those houses.

But they can stay at a temporary place to wait for the government program to build a new suburb.

While those whose houses are not yet the subject of government intervention, they can go back to their original homes.

State Secretary Jacinto also announced to the whole community that previously lived in the old police training centres such as Kaikoli (next to the central office of the East Timor Electricity) or the one next to the old Mayor's office in Belarmino Lobo street, it is better if they find another place because these two locations are the subject of development by the government.

gec http://www.suaratimorlorosae.com/details.php?id=12792&now=2008-05-16 translation 17/05/08 by ww2008

East Timor Government’s Resolution which approves the Procurement Procedure for the project for the Establishment of the National Registry

28/11/2013 TLLS - At the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of 7 October 2013, the Government gathered extraordinarily in the Council of Ministers’ meeting room, at the Government’s Palace, in Dili, and approved, amongst other things, the following Government’s Resolution which approves the Procurement Procedure for the project for the Establishment of the National Registry:

This diploma authorises the Ministry of Justice to request, by invitation, a technical and financial proposal for the establishment of the National Registry of Timor-Leste, following the adopted specifications.

The development of the National Registry – which includes the survey and cadastral mapping of the territory, the establishment of a computerized database and the establishment of an asset evaluation’s system for taxation purposes – assumes a strategic relevance for national security, to the extent that deals with classified information.

This project also assumes greater relevance to the economic and social development of the country, since it depends upon the attribution of property titles in Timor-Leste which will allow the planning and development of important economy sectors, such as agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as planning of greater national projects, such as Suai’s Logistics Base, the International Airport, the International Port, amongst others.

Source: Government of East Timor Council of Ministers Press Release 07/10/2013

MoU between GoTL and GTLeste Biotech on Sugar Cane Project

NOTE: This is an old report from 2008 but has been archived here for historical purposes.



The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to set forth the understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and hereinafter referred to as Government, and GTLESTE BIOTECH, hereinafter, (the Parties), to cooperate in the pursuit of profitable investment opportunities in the Integrated Sugar Cane sector in Timor-Leste, according to the general terms set forth below:

A. The Government of Timor Leste is desirous of seeing the establishment and operation of profitable ventures in the Agro industry sector, including the set up of Sugar Cane Plant and Ethanol Plant;

B. GTLESTE BIOTECH, being a foreign investment company, has identified that an integrated Sugar Cane Industry are investment opportunities wherein it is willing to create the conditions to set up the implementation of said project, putting together the right professionals & experts in order to secure the necessary experience, technical and commercial expertise, financing and market.


C. The estimated total investment of the project is more than USD.$100.000.000, including the sugar cane plantation, sugar plant, ethanol plant, and power generation facility and residential facilities, which are expected to generate more than 2.000 regular employees and more than 8.000 labor
direct jobs;

D. The Government acknowledges the fact that it would like to have implemented in Timor-Leste such an important project;

E. The Government underlines how crucial it is for the approval and successful implementation of any project of sound supporting financial engineering. Hence, the Government underlines, it is for an Integrated Sugar Cane Project of such a magnitude;

F. GTLESTE BIOTECH will take full responsibility for any loan guarantees required to finance the business venture;

G. The Government will grant the company the exclusive concession of 100.000 hectares of unproductive land and to be utilized for sugar plantation (land site as per attached), sugar plant and ethanol plant. The Government will not have to come up with any capital cost. The entire integrated project’s set up costs in Timor Leste and in other country will be borne by the company or by the cooperation it subsequently set up to run the entire business properly;

H. The Government shall accord the company a 50 (fifty) years contract to land use, operate and cultivate the sugar plantation, sugar plant, ethanol plant and other supporting facilities, and extendable to another 50 (fifty years) contract. The duration of the first 50 (fifty) years contracted awarded will be irrevocable due to the high investment costs incurred by the company;

I. The government will support in providing all necessary incentives, export excess of the company product, licenses, permits for sugar plantation, sugar plant, ethanol plant and its derivative products ;

J. The Government will guarantee the exclusive rights suitable land use for sugar cane plantation for the first 10 (ten) years in Timor Leste due to the high cost of building the supporting infrastructure, training and development of the direct & indirect labors.

K. GTLESTE BIOTECH will be staffed by qualified personnel from Timor Leste and or experienced Indonesian assisted also by other foreign technician it necessary;

L. However, the Government stresses that, at this stage, with the level of information available, this such project are strictly private ventures, with no State participation of any sort, whatsoever;

M. GTLESTE BIOTECH will establish training & development centre for maintenance, mechanics, and agriculture in order to transfer technology.

N. GTLESTE BIOTECH will support Timor Leste total consumption of sugar and ethanol with reasonable prices;

O. GTLESTE BIOTECH will participate the district electricity supplies from the excess of electricity power from the company’s plants;

P. GTLESTE BIOTECH will provide community facilities such as clinics and sporting areas.

Q. Entirety. This MOU constitutes the entire understanding and agreement between the Parties hereto and their affiliate with respect to the subject matter contained herein, and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous agreements, representations, warranties and understandings of such parties (whether oral or written). No promise, inducement, representation or agreement, other than as expressly set forth herein, has been made to or by the
Parties hereto.

R. Construction. This MOU shall be construed according to its fair meaning and not strictly for or against either Party. This letter does not, and is not intended to impose any binding obligations on the Parties beyond the intent and promise herein stated.

S. Confidentiality. All information and documents supplied by one Party to any other pursuant to this MOU shall be treated as confidential by the Parties and shall not be disclosed to any third party without expressed written consent of the Party who supplied the information or document. The restrictions and obligations of this Article shall expire two (2) years after the termination of this Memorandum of Understanding.

T. Extension and Modification. The Parties may extend or modify the content of this MOU by mutual agreement.

U. Duration. This Memorandum of Understanding is valid for two years from the date of its signature below.

V. This MOU is not intended to create any legal obligations by either party. The proposed project is subject to and conditional upon GTLESTE BIOTECH meeting all legal requirements set out by the laws of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste with respect to the proposed project.

If the terms and conditions of this MOU are acceptable, please sign and return to us an original of this letter so that we can proceed with further discussions.

Done and signed in Dili. Timor-Leste, on the 15th January of 2008.

/s/ Mariano ASSANAMI Sabino
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Accepted and Agreed:
/s/ By Gino Sakiris   Chairman

Related post
Massive East Timor land-for-biofuel plan raises hackles

Massive East Timor land-for-biofuel plan raises hackles

NOTE: This is an old report from 2008 but has been archived here for historical purposes.

24/06/08 DILI (AFP) — East Timor's government is under fire over an agreement to turn more than a sixth of the country's arable land over to a 100 million dollar foreign-funded ethanol project.

The Fretilin opposition has branded as a "land giveaway" a memorandum of understanding between the agriculture minister and GTLeste Biotech for a 100,000 hectare (247,000 acre) sugar plantation and ethanol plant.

The agreement with the little-known Indonesian company guarantees at least 100 million dollars in investment in return for granting GTLeste a 50-year lease over a swathe of "unproductive land" with an option for 50 years more.

The government is touting the move as a major potential source of foreign cash which could generate more than 2,000 jobs.

But opposition agriculture spokesman Estanislau da Silva told AFP the plan was made with little public consultation and could threaten food production in the impoverished and overwhelmingly agrarian country.

"They say they are going to plant sugarcane on unproductive land. Where in the world can you plant sugarcane on unproductive land?" da Silva said.

"The intention itself is very suspicious and goes against what we are doing in terms of development and increasing food production and food reliance," he said.

"Two thousand jobs means nothing to me when you give away 100,000 hectares."

"What worries us is firstly the process. For a project as big as this ... the government should consult before signing the contract," said Maximus Tahu from independent development watchdog La'o Hamutuk.

Although estimates are difficult to make, the 100,000 hectares proposed for the project comprises at least one-sixth of land that can be farmed in East Timor, including farms already in use, Tahu said. Fretilin puts the figure at one-quarter.

"We have learned from other countries that sugar cane plantations will have negative impacts on agriculture and farmers' lives. More than 80 percent of Timorese are farmers, they live on agriculture, so the land is very important for them," he said.

"Our concern is the project will contribute to the destruction of land fertility."

The government has brushed aside the criticism, saying discussions are in the early stages and no fixed site has been found for the plantation.

Environment Minister Mariano Sabino said critics of the plan had been spreading "false propaganda" that the government had already agreed to give the land to GTLeste.

"Whoever wants to discuss this, sure let's discuss this. But don't carry out false campaigns and lie that the ministry has already provided the land," he said Monday.

The ethanol plan would bring much-needed investment into rural East Timor, Sabino said.

East Timor, which gained formal independence in 2002 after 24 years of often brutal Indonesian occupation, is one of the poorest countries in Asia, with roughly 50 percent unemployment.

Soaring global oil prices and fears of global warming have led to a boom in the production of biofuels, which are mostly made from crops such as oil palms, sugarcane and soybeans.

However, scientists have questioned the environmental benefits of biofuels, saying production can encourage land clearing as well as divert food crops, pushing up global food prices.

Related post
MoU between GoTL and GTLeste Biotech on Sugar Cane Project

31 August 2013

East Timor Cabinet approves Draft Law on Land Expropriation

On July 9, 2013, in the Council of Ministers meeting room at the Government Palace in Dili and approved the Proposal of Law on Expropriation.

The right to private property is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. There is however one exception foreseen in the Constitution, giving the State the opportunity to expropriate property for reasons of public utility. This prerogative of the State is essential for the development of infrastructures that serve the population. But taking into consideration the implications of expropriation on the lives of citizens, the Constitution establishes clear limits to its exercise, being only possible to apply when the public interest is concerned and upon payment of fair compensation.

This law regulates this constitutional precept and the administrative procedure to make the expropriation for reasons of public utility, establishing the necessary mechanisms to ensure respect for the rights of those affected by expropriation.

The drafting of this law resulted from knowledge accumulated over several years of studies and public consultations on issues related to the ownership of real estate. Taking into account the impact of this law on the lives of people, there was special care to standardize it with the instruments of international laws, to which Timor-Leste is party, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), all of which are an integral part of the Timorese legal system. (Extract from ETLJB post Meeting of the East Timor Council of Ministers 9 July 2013)

13 August 2013

Crime of arson and property damage heard in Dili District Court June 2013

Crime of arson and property damage - Case No.182/C.Ord/2009/TDD

Composition of judges: Panel

Judges: Ana P. Fonseca, Paulo Texeira, Francisca Marques (trainee judge)

Public Prosecutor : Hipólito Santa

Public Defender: Manuel Exposto

Conclusion: Ongoing

On 20 June 2013 the Dili District Court conducted a hearing against 7 defendants who were involved in the crime of arson and property damage that occurred during the 2006 crisis.  This case allegedly occurred in June 2006, in Akadiruhun, Dili. The charges were made against the defendants PdA, JM, PAN, FNSC, JF, VdC, MPR, as well as FdS and FO (who were not present). The defendants formed a group named BAMBOLA that aimed to engage in creative activities such as soccer.

The public prosecutor alleged that the defendants (in June 2006 or during the crisis) were involved in the crime of burning civilian homes, property damage, stone throwing at homes in Akadiruhun, Dili, where the defendants reside.

On 17 June 2006 the defendants threw stones at and burned the homes of the victims AF and AxF and the victims had to flee empty handed because they were afraid and couldn’t do anything.

The aforementioned actions caused the goods of the victims to go up in smoke. In addition to the victims AF and AxF, another victim DM was inside the house when the defendants were burning the homes, but he was able to flee from inside the house. The goods of the victim DM were completely damaged because of fire.

The public prosecutor charged the defendants with violating Articles 187 (3), 338 and 53 of the Indonesian Penal Code.

During the trial only four of the defendants wanted to testify in relation to the charges of the public prosecutor and the other 3 exercised their right to remain silent.

The four defendants testified that they were not involved in the crime of arson and/or throwing stones at civilians in 2006. The defendants testified that they were involved in the BAMBOLA group, but the group was formed in their area after taking the name from a football team.

The defendants also added that at that time the Australia troops took their photograph and promised to give some footballs to them, but until now they have never received the footballs.

The victims AF and AxF as well as the witness HSF (who was the Village Chief in 2006) testified that their homes were burnt and destroyed, their goods were destroyed by fire, but they did not see who burned their homes.

After hearing testimony from the defendants and the witnesses the court adjourned the trial until 10 July 2013 at 3pm. Source: JSMP Press Release 12 August 2013

Full report on cases monitored in Dili District Court in June 2013 are on the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin

Crime of occupying a residence case heard in Dili District Court

Crime of occupying a residence – Case No.240/C.Ord/2012/TDD

Composition of judges: Single

Judge: Antonino Gonçalves

Public Prosecutor: Glória Alves

Public Defender:  Manuel Amaral (trainee)

Conclusion: Ordered to pay a fine of US$ 90

On 25 June 2013 the Dili District Court ordered the defendant JM to pay a fine of US$90 to be paid in installments of US$ 1 per day for 90 days.If the defendant fails to pay the fine, the defendant will be imprisoned for 60 days.

The defendant committed the crime against the victim FT who was the owner of the residence and this case allegedly occurred on 10 September 2006 in Dili.

The court found that the victim was living in the house that was being disputed by the two parties. In May 2006 the victim left the house and went to Hera because the situation was out of control. In September 2006 the defendant occupied and repaired the house.

When the situation returned to normal the victim returned to Dili to live in his home, however the defendant had already occupied his house. The defendant was willing to leave the house if the victim gave him US$ 3,000. However the victim stated that he did not have any money. Therefore, the defendant continued to live in the house until the court found in favor of the victim. Source: JSMP Case Summary Dili District Court June 2013

03 July 2013

Timor Leste Government approves draft laws on land ownership and land compensation fund

TLLS 03/07/2013 At the meeting the East Timor Council of Ministers on 25 June  13, the CoM approved:

1. Proposal of Law on the Special Regime for Defining Ownership of Real Estate

The Special Regime for the Definition of Ownership of Real Estate creates mechanisms that freely and fairly allow an efficient way to identify rightful owners of Property, to recognise property rights and promote land distribution. This proposal takes into account the history of Timor-Leste and the knowledge accumulated over several years of studies and public consultations to strengthen consensus and balance between the various positions on the issue.

The approval of this legislation by the National Parliament is a key step in a process that as necessary has been lengthy and exhaustive yet critical for the development of the country; and

2. Proposal of Law on Real Estate Financial Fund

This legislation creates a financial instrument needed for better implementation of the Special Regime for Defining Ownership of Real Estate. This proposal of law will now be sent to the National Parliament for approval.

Source: Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the V Constitutional Government 25 June 2013

27 April 2013

Draft Land Law a priority for Parliamentary Committee A

ETLS  26 April 2013 - According to a report in The Dili Weekly on 12 April 2013, Parliamentary Committee A will prioritise three laws in the current sitting of the Parliament including the draft land law.

According to the President of Commission A, MP Carmelita Caetano Moniz, the Land Law is comprised of a package of three pieces of legislation.

“Within this year we will try hard to debate these laws and take them to the plenary for approval,” said MP Moniz.
She added of the three law, the Land Law is the most important to be debated and approved at the National Parliament because there are many land disputes in the country.

Meanwhile CNRT MP Francisco da Costa said these laws must be adequately debated and approved by the parliament so some of the problems that have occurred can be regulated.

“But I don’t know yet about the status of the Land and Property Law and the Anti-Corruption Law because the law I have at the moment on my table is the Municipalities Law,” said MP da Costa.

The MP has concerns with the fact the laws are in Portuguese and urges them to be translated into Tetum so they can be easily understood.

“So we can provide feedback to one another. I think it is very important to approve these laws and laws are important to regulate citizens,” added MP da Costa. Source: The Dili Weekly

24 April 2013

Minister Babo informs land issues to President TMR

Timor-Post 23/04/2013 - The Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo Soares has informed the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) about land and property issues in the country including the Ministry's efforts to produce the law to resolve land and properties disputes in the country.

“I explained the Land and Property Law to the president of the republic and we have contacted civil society organisations and international organisations to accumulate their opinions before presenting it to the Council of Ministers,” Babo said.

President TMR was happy with the work of ministry of justice as it has made efforts to produce a new land law to move forward with the land and property issues in the country, as it would impact the development process if the issue is unresolved.

11 April 2013

Foreign nationals have no right to purchase land in Timor-Leste

10 April 2013 - Suara Timor-Lorosae reports on statements by the State Secretary for Land and Property, Jaime Xavier Lopes, regarding the ownership of land in Timor-Leste. He is reported as saying that foreign nationals have no right to purchase land in Timor-Leste despite some of them had bought land from local residents in the country.

“Foreign nationals have no right to land in the country as the Constitution Article 74 states that only Timorese people have the right to land,” Lopes said.

Lopes called on the Timorese people not to support Chinese people in purchasing land in the country because it would impact the country’s new generation.

02 April 2013

Report on land dispute heard in Baucau District Court 6 February 2012

Land dispute, Case No. 12/Civ.PI/2012/TDB.

Baucau District Court
Judge composition : Single
Judge: Afonso Carmona
Lawyers for the plaintiff : Lino Lopes and Marçal Guterres
Lawyer for the respondent : Sérgio Paulo Dias Quintas

Conclusion: Ongoing

This matter was tried on 6 February 2013 in order to attempt to reach an amicable settlement. The case was registered with the court as Case No. 12/Civ.PI/2012/TDB.

This case involved Manuel Dos Santos Cabral as the plaintiff and Marçal Lequidara as the respondent. The dispute occurred in 2011 in Baucau.

Attempts to reach a peaceful settlement were unsuccessful. The respondent stated that he had tried many times to reconcile, however the plaintiff refused, therefore the respondent requested for the court to proceed with the trial.

At the request of the respondent the court will issue a record of the hearing and then set a date to continue the trial.

Source: JSMP Press Release 2/04/2013 Summary of the trial process at the Baucau District Court Period: February 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

31 March 2013

Timor Land Reform: Chemonics is Recruiting Land Reform Specialists

Career Opportunities/ Timor-Leste Land Reform Specialist(s)/ All Levels - Chemonics International, an international development firm, seeks Timorese land reform professionals at all levels for an anticipated USAID- funded land tenure reform program to be based in Dili, Timor-Leste. The program will strengthen institutional capacity of organizations to produce high quality results on land related issues and strengthen understanding of land law and policy among citizens and government throughout Timor-Leste. 

General Qualifications:

·       Working  knowledge of Timor’s formal and informal rural and urban land tenure systems

·       Demonstrated understanding of informal and formal land administrative relationships at the national, regional and local level

·       Experience working on donor-funded programs strongly preferred

·       Fluency in English and Tetun required


·       Deputy Chief of Party – manages project operations including finance and administration

·       Institutional Development Specialist – leads activities to strengthen human and institutional capacity in government and civil society organizations

·       Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist – designs and implements monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems for program activities

·       Public Outreach Specialist – leads program activities to increase public awareness of land reform and land administration issues

·       Policy and Research Specialist- supports work of counterparts in the Timorese government to assess effectiveness of land administration arrangements through rigorous applied research programs.

Technical areas of expertise include:

·       Governance/performance improvement of land administration

·       Legal aspects of land ownership

·       Curriculum design for land administration training

·       Land use planning, including GIS

·       Land conflict, including protected land issues

·       Monitoring and evaluation of land tenure projects

·       Gender sensitivity and analysis for land reform

·       Finance and administration of USAID- funded projects

·       Communications.

Please send CV (including references), cover letter, and contact information to timorlandreform@gmail.com  by April 11th, 2013 indicating the position to which you are applying in the subject line. No telephone inquiries, please. Only finalists will be contacted. More information about Chemonics International Inc. can be found at www.chemonics.com.

01 March 2013

Land Dispute Cases Heard in the Dili District Court in January 2013

Dili District Court Coat of Arms
ETLS 01 March 2013 - The following are extracts from the English translation of the Judicial System Monitoring Program's monitoring of procceedings in the Dili District Court in January 2013 pertaining to land disputes.

1. Land Dispute - Case No. 134/Civil/2010/TDD

Dili District Court     

Judge Composition: Single
Judge: Jacinta Correia
Lawyer for the plaintiff: Pedro Aparicio (private lawyer)
Lawyer for the respondent: José Gutteres (private lawyer)
Conclusion: Trial adjourned

On 16 January 2013 the Dili District Court adjourned a trial in a case involving a land dispute which was scheduled to be heard on the aforementioned date. The object of the dispute is located in Becora, Dili.

The trial was adjourned because the court failed to adhere to the schedule of hearings that had been prepared in advance and therefore the lawyer decided to go home. The adjournment occurred because the judge presiding over this matter was attending to another duty that could not be interrupted.

The land at the center of this dispute had been occupied by Chin Qoe Lien since Portuguese times and then in 2005 the land was sold to Fernando Silva.   However, a third party identified as Lay I Fa claimed that the land in dispute belonged to him.

The trial was scheduled to continue on 8 February 2013 at 3pm.

2.  Land dispute - Case No. 08/Civel/2012/TDD

Dili District Court     

Judge Composition: Single
Judge: António Gonçalves
Lawyer for the plaintiff: Julio P. Cardoso (private lawyer)
Lawyer for the respondent: Arlindo Dias (private lawyer)
Conclusion: Settled via an amicable agreement

On 24 January 2013 the Dili District Court conducted a trial in a case involving a dispute over land situated in Becora, Dili that occurred in 2011.  The plaintiff Nuno Barreto Ching brought legal proceedings against the respondent Guilhermino Ching who is the brother of the plaintiff.

During the trial the court tried to get the two parties to reach an amicable settlement, but was unsuccessful in this regard. Therefore the plaintiff requested to the court to settle the case by having the parties reach a traditional settlement.

The respondent welcomed this request and the court gave the two parties 15 days to reconcile. The results of this reconciliation or agreement are to be submitted to the court.

Read the full report on East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin

Source: JSMP Press Release February 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright