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