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La'o Hamutuk Analysis of the case of releasing former Laksaur militia commander Maternus Bere by RDTL leaders

24 September 2009

On 30 August 2009, some Timorese leaders freed Maternus Bere, the former leader of the Laksaur Militia (Laksanakan Sapu Rata) in Suai who was indicted for committing crimes against humanity in 1999. This decision by the President of the Republic and Prime Minister violates the Constitution of RDTL Article 160 about serious crimes which states that “Acts committed between the 25th of April 1974 and the 31st of December 1999 that can be considered crimes against humanity, of genocide or of war shall be liable to criminal proceedings with the national or international courts.”

Under Article 160 of the Constitution of RDTL, the UN/RDTL Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court issued a warrant to arrest Maternus Bere in 2003, subsequent to Serious Crimes Unit indictment No./09/2003. He was named together with Egidio Manek, deputy commander of the Laksaur Militia, and others who committed crimes against humanity in Suai during 1999, including “murder, extermination, enforced disappearance, torture, inhumane acts, rape, deportation and persecution.” The former leader militia Maternus Bere must be brought to a national or international court for trial. The decision to free him betrays the state’s commitment made by ratifying the Rome Convention for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Freedom for Maternus Bere by the President and Prime Minister undermines the principles of a democratic state under rule of law based onto article 1(1) of the Constitution of RDTL which states that “The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is a democratic, sovereign, independent and unitary State based on the rule of law, the will of the people and the respect for the dignity of the human person.” Freedom for Maternus Bere who was captured by PNTL and imprisoned pending trial is illegal, because the decision to free him must be by a court, not a non-judicial organs. We understand that President of the Republic José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão instructed the Minister of Justice to release Maternus Bere without a decision from a judge, but we do not yet know their motives for releasing this alleged perpetrator, and have seen no formal declaration from the President and Prime Minister of their reasons. However, we have learned that the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda threatened not to attend the 10th anniversary commemoration of Timor-Leste’s referendum until Bere was turned over to the Indonesian Ambassador in Dili.

We believe that the leaders’ decision does the following:

  1. Diminishes the credibility of Timor-Leste as a sovereign nation and our Constitutional dignity, as consecrated in Constitution of RDTL Article 2.

  2. Undermines our self-image as a democratic state governed under rule of law.

  3. Discards Timor-Leste’s values of justice, values of humanity and values of independence.

  4. Disrespects martyrs’ human rights and the rights of victims.

  5. Shows that Timorese leaders do not respect our Constitution and violate the principles of justice and separation of powers.

  6. Sets a bad precedent for constitutionality and national sovereignty in the future, as Timor-Leste has given away its ability to say “no” to Indonesia or other nations when they ask Timor-Leste to violate our own laws or constitution.

We believe that state leaders should not have released Maternus Bere without a decision from a judge, because these leaders, including the President and Prime Minister, have no jurisdiction over criminal justice. That competence belongs to the courts, as defined by Article 118(1) of the Constitution of RDTL: “Courts are organs of sovereignty with competencies to administer justice in the name of the people.” And the decision of a tribunal is higher than any other authority’s decision, including the President of the Republic, National Parliament and Prime Minister, as described in Constitution Article 118(3): “Court decisions shall be binding and shall prevail over the decisions of any other authority.”

This decision by Timorese leaders damages Timor-Leste’s reputation as a democratic state under rule of law, weakening Timor-Leste’s Judicial System, demonstrating abuse of power and violating the Constitution and the nation’s commitment and principles.

Therefore, La’o Hamutuk demands that:

  1. All citizens including the President, Prime Minister, National Parliament and Government must respect and obey the Constitution as the highest law in Timor-Leste.

  2. All state organs in Timor-Leste must know their own functions and the separation of power defined in the Constitution.

  3. Timorese leaders must show and defend the state’s objectives consecrated in Constitution Article 2: “(1) Sovereignty rests with the people, who shall exercise it in the manner and form laid down in the Constitution. (2) The State shall be subject to the Constitution and to the law. (3) The validity of the laws and other actions of the State and local Government depends upon their compliance with the Constitution.”

  4. State leaders must respect and obey decisions made by the judicial organs.

  5. The state of Timor-Leste must carry out the indictment from the Serious Crimes Unit No./09/2003 to arrest Maternus Bere and his militia colleagues and to put them on trial.

  6. The entire state and nation of Timor-Leste must reject impunity for perpetrators of serious crimes against humanity in the past and in the future.

  7. The state of Timor-Leste should not give amnesty to perpetrators who commit serious crimes in Timor-Leste.

  8. Timor-Leste and Indonesia should establish an extradition agreement to extradite perpetrators who committed crimes against humanity between 1974 and 1999 in Timor-Leste, so that they can be put on trial here.

Impunity for perpetrators of crimes against humanity hinders Timor-Leste’s process of democratization, showing that judicial institutions are not strong enough to defend people’s rights to justice. Impunity limits victims’ ability to receive compensation or recuperation, legitimizing and legalizing past and future violence against society, and contradicting the state’s obligation to guarantee and promote the fundamental rights of citizens, to respect the nation’s principles of democratic rights.

Constitution Article 2(2) states “The State shall be subject to the Constitution and to the law,” meaning that laws applies to everyone, including national leaders. Therefore, when citizens or leaders do not comply with the law, this violates the constitution and creates legal instability, while obstructing our process of national development, creating abuse of power. This is the path toward dictatorship, where people in power do not obey the Constitution.

The leaders' decision has implications for Timor-Leste’s sovereignty in relation to Indonesia. This decision puts Timor-Leste under the control of Indonesia’s Government, surrendering Timor-Leste’s principles of independence, as well as our national sovereignty.

La’o Hamutuk is an independent organization which has monitored and analyzed the process of development in Timor-Leste since 2000. We believe that developing and strengthening our judicial system, respecting human rights, respecting our Constitution and avoiding abuses of power will help Timor-Leste develop as a nation which defends and promotes principles of democratic rights and good governance to serve the interests of its citizens. Therefore, we are very concerned and distressed about the decision to free Maternus Bere, which violates our Constitution and compromises our national sovereignty.

Download this statement as printable PDF.

More information on the Bere case in Tetum and English is at

Analiza La'o Hamutuk kona-ba kazu libertasaun eis Komandante milisia Laksaur Maternus Bere husi Lideransa RDTL

24 Setembru 2009

Iha loron 30 fulan Agustu 2009, nai-ulun boot balun husi Estadu Timor-Leste fó liberdade ba Maternus Bere, Eis Komandante Milisia Laksaur (Laksanakan Sapu Rata) Suai ne’ebé hetan akuzasaun komete krime graves kontra umanidade iha tinan 1999. Desizaun Prezidente Repúblika no Primeiru Ministru ne’e rasik viola ona Konstituisaun RDTL Artigu 160 kona-bá krime bo’ot sira ne’ebé hateten “Hahalok sira-ne’ebé halo husi loron 25 Abríl tinan 1974 to’o loron 31 Dezembru tinan 1999, ne’e bele konsidera nu’udar krime hasoru umanidade, jenosídiu ka krime funu nian, nia prosedimentu kriminál tenke hala’o iha tribunál nasionál ka internasionál sira.”

Tuir Artigu 160 Konstituisaun RDTL, Maternus Bere ne’ebé hetan ona mandatu kapturasaun iha tinan 2003 husi Unidade Krime Graves ONU-RDTL tuir akuzasaun No./09/2003 hamutuk ho Egidio Manek, Segundu komandante Milisia Laksaur, no sira seluk ne’ebé komete iha krime graves kontra umanidade iha Suai durante tinan 1999. Eis milisia Maternus Bere ne’e tenke lori ba iha tribunál nasionál ka internasionál hodi hetan prosesu julgamentu. Desizaun lideransa ida ne’e mós la tuir ona komitmentu estadu Timor-Leste ba ratifikasaun konvensaun Roma ninian kona-bá Tribunál Penál Internasionál (ICC).

Libertasaun ba Maternus Bere husi Prezidente no Premeiru Ministru la tuir mós prinsípiu estadu de direitu demokrátiku tuir Artigu 1(1) Konstituisaun RDTL ne’ebé hateten: “Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste katak Estadu ida-ne’ebé demokrátiku, soberanu, ukun-an no ida-mesak, harii hosi povu nia hakarak no iha respeitu ba dignidade ema moris ida-idak nian”. Libertasaun ba Maternus Bere ne’ebé hetan kaer husi PNTL no loloos lori ona ba prizaun hodi hein julgamentu tribunál nian ne’e konsidera illegal “Cacat Hukum”, tamba desizaun fó liberdade ba nia loloos mai husi juíz tribunál nian laos mai husi orgaun naun judisiáriu. Hanesan ita hotu hatene katak Prezidente Repúblika José Ramos-Horta no Primeiru Ministru Xanana Gusmão fó instrusaun ba Ministra Justisa atu husik-sai livre Maternus Bere lahoo desizaun husi juíz Tribunál ninian, ami seidauk hatene ho serteza motivu saida hetan husi libertasaun ba kriminozu ida ne’e no seidauk iha deklarasaun formál husi Prezidente Repúblika no Primeiru Ministru rasik ba motivu ne’e, maibé iha informasaun balun ne’ebé fo sai ona hateten katak tamba de’it ho ameasa husi Ministru Negosiu Estrangeiru Indonézia ninian Hassan Wirayuda ne’ebé sei la marka prezensa iha komemorasaun loron aniversariu referendum nian ba dala sanulu.

Ami hanoin katak desizaun nai-ulun bo’ot sira nian hatudu hahalok:

  1. Hatun Timor-Leste nia kredibilidade nu’udar nasaun soberania no ita nia dignidade konstituisional ne’ebé konsagra ona iha Konstituisaun RDTL Artigu 2.

  2. Halo aat Timor-Leste nia dignidade nu’udar estadu direitu demokrátiku

  3. Sobu valor justisa, valor umanidade, valor ukun rasik-an nian.

  4. La respeita martires no vitima sira nia direitu umanu.

  5. Hatudu katak lideransa Estadu Timor-Leste la respeita konstituisaun no viola prinsípiu justisa no separasaun poderes iha Timor-Leste.

  6. Hamosu presedente aat ba konstitusionalidade no soberania nasaun Timor-Leste iha futuru, Timor-Leste rasik soe nia kbiit hodi dehan “la’e” ba Indonézia ka nasaun seluk wainhira sira husu Timor-Leste atu viola lei ka ninia Konstituisaun rasik.

Ami hanoin katak loloos lideransa nasaun ida ne’e labele husik livre Maternus Bere la ho desizaun husi Juíz Tribunál nian, tamba lideransa nasaun nian inklui mós Prezidente Repúblika, Primeiru Ministru la iha poder juridiksional hodi halo justisa ba ema kriminozu ida maibé poder ne’e poder Tribunál nian, hanesan Artigu 118(1) Konstituisaun RDTL hateten katak “Tribunál sira maka órgaun soberania ho kompeténsia atu hala’o justisa hodi povu nia naran”. No desizaun Tribunál ne’e aas liu desizaun husi autoridade sira seluk inklui mós desizaun Prezidente Repúblika, Parlamentu Nasionál no Primeiru Ministru nian hanesan Artigu 118(3) hateten katak “Desizaun ne’ebé tribunál sira fó ona tenke halo tuir duni no soi kbiit aas liu desizaunautoridade sira seluk nian”.

Desizaun lideransa Timor-Leste nian sei halo Timor-Leste nia imazen nu’udar nasaun direitu demokratiku lakon, hafraku sistema judisial Timor-Leste ninian, hatudu abuzu de poder no hahalok kontra Konstituisaun RDTL no kontra komitmentu no prinsípiu estadu nian, ho ida ne’e La’o Hamutuk ezije atu:

  1. Ema hotu-hotu inklui mós Prezidente Repúblika, Primeiru Ministru, Parlamentu Nasionál no Governu atu tenke respeita no hakru’uk ba Konstituisaun RDTL nu’udar lei ne’ebé aas liu iha Timor-Leste

  2. Orgaun estadu tomak iha Timor-Leste hotu tenke hatene kna’ar ida-idak ninian ka separasaun poder ne’ebé Konstituisaun RDTL haruka.

  3. Lideransa Timor-Leste tenke hatudu no defende objetivu estadu ninian ne’ebé konsagra iha Konstituisaun RDTL Artigu 2 katak “(1) Soberania hatuur metin iha povu, ne’ebé hala’o soberania ne’e tuir Lei-Inan haruka. (2) Estadu hakruuk ba Lei-Inan no lei-oan sira. (3) Lei-oan sira no hahalok seluk tan hosi Estadu no kbiit autoridade lokál sira-nian foin sai válidu wainhira sira la’o tuir duni Lei-Inan haruka.

  4. Lideransa estadu tenke respeita no hakruk ba desizaun ne’ebé orgaun judisiariu estadu nian hasai.

  5. Estadu Timor-Leste tenke implementa akuzasaun Unidade Krime Graves ONU-RDTL nian No./09/2003 hodi kaer no halo julgamentu ba Maternus Bere no nia maluk milisia seluk

  6. Estadu no nasaun Timor-Leste tomak tenke rejeita impunidade ba autor krime gaves kontra umanidade iha pasadu no presente nian.

  7. Estadu Timor-Leste labele fó impunidade ka amnestia ba kriminozu ne’ebé komete ba krime graves kontra umanidade iha Timor-Leste

  8. Husu mós atu halo akordu ekstradisaun ho Indonézia atu halo ekstradisaun ba kriminozu ne’ebé komete ba krime kontra umanidade durante 1974 to 1999 iha Timor-Leste atu hetan julgamentu iha Timor-Leste.

Impunidade ba autor krime kontra umanidade sei hafraku prosesu demokratizasaun ninian, hatudu instituisaun judisiariu iha Timor-Leste fraku duni atu responde no defende direitu vitima ninian hodi hetan justisa ka fó limitasaun ba kapasidade vitima sira hodi hetan kompensasaun ka rekuperasaun nian, no impunidade ba kriminozu hanesan fó legitimidade no legalizasaun ba violensia kontra umanidade iha nasaun ida ne’e iha pasadu ka futuru no kontra prinsípiu estadu nian kona-bá garante no promove sidadaun sira-nia direitu no liberdade fundamentál, no respeitu ba Estadu nia prinsípiu kona-bá direitu demokrátiku nian.

Hanesan artigu 2 (2) Konstituisaun RDTL hateten katak “Estadu hakruuk ba Lei-Inan no lei-oan sira”. Hatudu katak lei hotu sei aplika ba ema hotu inklui mós ba lideransa nasaun nian. Entretantu, wainhira sidadaun ka lideransa nasaun nian rasik lakohi kumpri lei, la fiar ba Konstituisaun RDTL rasik sei hamosu instabilidade legál iha nasaun tomak nia laran, nomós sei fó impaktu ba prosesu dezenvolvimentu nasaun nian, hamosu abuzu poder, ditadura ka otoriter ne’ebé mai husi ema ne’ebé kaer ukun hodi la tuir Konstituisaun rasik haruka.

Desizaun lideransa sira ne’e sei fó implikasaun mós ba soberania Timor-Leste iha Indonézia nia oin iha futuru. Desizaun ne’ebé lori Timor-Leste sai fali hanesan nasaun ka rejiaun ida ne’ebé hetan kontrola husi Governu sentral Indonézia, halo fali Timor-Leste lakon nia prinsípiu ba ukun-rasik-an ninian nomós halakon liña soberania entre Indonézia no Timor-Leste.

La’o Hamutuk nu’udar organizasaun ne’ebé durante ne’e halo monitorizasaun no fó analiza ba prosesu dezenvolvimentu iha Timor-Leste durante tinan 2000 to ohin loron. Ami fiar katak atu dezenvolve no haforsa sistema judisiariu, respeita direitu humanu, respeitu Konstituisaun no evita hahalok abuzu de poderes sei halo Timor-Leste sai nasaun ne’ebé defende no promove prinsípiu direitu demokrátiku, boa governasaun no nasaun ne’ebé servi duni interese sidadaun nian. Tamba ne’e ami preokupa no lamenta teb-tebes ba desizaun ne’ebé viola Konstituisaun no soberania estadu ida ne’e ninian rasik.

Download esteitmentu ida ne'e hanesan PDF.

Bele hetan informasaun tan kona ba kazu Bere iha lian Tetum no English:


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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