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)

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