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Proposed laws on Reparations and Memory Institute
Esboso lei rua kona-ba Programa Nasionál ba Reparasaun no Institutu Públiku ba Memória

7 July 2010, updated 1 March 2012

More than ten years after the end of the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste, and more than five years after Commission on Truth, Reception and Reconciliation (CAVR) issued its comprehensive report, the National Parliament of Timor-Leste is discussing two laws to create a government agency to oversee implementation of some of the recommendations from CAVR and the Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF), and to define a program of reparations.

These laws, which relate to only a few of CAVR's broad collection of recommendations to government and institutions in Timor-Leste and elsewhere, were based on a Concept Paper developed by a Working Group of NGOs in October 2009. On 6 July 2010, Parliament Committee A held a day-long hearing with local NGOs, including La'o Hamutuk and members of the Working Group, and on 7 July, they heard from victims' groups.

An extraordinary Plenary Session of Parliament was scheduled for 8 July to debate the draft laws, but it was delayed at the request of Committee A. Committee A decided that there wasn't time to revise and resubmit the draft laws to the Parliamentary Plenary for passage before the two-month Parliamentary recess which began on 15 July. However, the laws (Portuguese or English) were revised and reported out by the Committee on 14 July, with 5 votes in favor and two opposed, as described in this press release from JSMP. (La'o Hamutuk has paper copies of the Committee Report and revised laws in Portuguese, and will post them when we get electronic copies. )

Parliament  reconvened two months later, and on 21 September the plenary began discussing Committee A's report and the two draft laws . [Click here for Tetum notes from Parliamentary plenaries for 21, 22, 23 and 28 September.] The following day, after heated debate, the plenary voted 41-11 to reject the Committee's revisions and consider the original texts as introduced, which were then approved in generalidade.

Discussion and voting on the specifics of the two laws was delayed to allow time to study them and to revise the Budget and Financial Management Law. However on 28 September several MPs moved to suspend the discussion because they needed first to address problems with payments to veterans. Parliamentary President Fernando LaSama explained on TVTL that Parliament will not come back to these two laws until February 2011, as they need to reach consensus among all 65 members. In addition, they will give priority to the Civil Code, the Land Laws, and the 2011 State Budget.

ICTJ issued a press release lamenting the delay (also Tetum) and the East Timor Crisis Reflection Network (ETCRN, Tetum) urged that Parliament discuss all Chega! recommendations when they return to this topic.

In late 2010, Parliament spent two months discussing, amending and approving the $1.3 billion 2011 State Budget, which included money for the future Memory Institute. However, when they tried to resume discussing the reparations and Memory Institute laws on 14 February 2011, Parliament again voted to postpone until problems with veterans benefits are resolved. Amnesty International and JSMP expressed their disappointment with the further delay.

The final 2011 State Budget included $250,000 in the Whole of Government appropriation for a "new organization to implement the CAVR recommendations," but none of it was spent during the year. It also included $270,000 under the President's office for the Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat, of which $221,000 was spent and $53,000 was obligated.

During 2011, many governments, international agencies and civil society organizations encouraged passage of these two laws, although they said little about more fundamental questions of justice and accountability. 

The $1.7 billion State Budget for 2012, enacted in late November 2011, appropriates $258,000 for the new organization and $438,000 for the Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat (of which $175,000 for distribution of publications was added by the Parliamentary plenary during the budget debate).

As 2012 began, Parliament scheduled a debate on passage of the two laws for the first three days of February. However, when the appointed date arrived, Parliament again indefinitely delayed the discussion, perhaps until after the July elections. Amnesty International and JSMP responded by urging Parliament to stop ignoring victims' rights (also Tetum and Bahasa Indonesia). JSMP followed up with a media briefing (also Tetum) on 6 February.

After public commitments by President Jose Ramos-Horta and Parliamentary President Fernando Lasama Araujo that the debate would happen soon, Parliament finally began discussing (also Tetum) the reparations law in Plenary on the morning of Tuesday, 21 February 2012. They based their discussion on the versions of the Reparations (English or Portuguese) and Memory Institute laws as reported by Committee A in 2010. However, the Parliament was unable to continue the discussion after lunch due to lack of quorum, perhaps because a Church-sponsored Peace March brought traffic to a standstill. The discussion was to resume on Monday, 27 February, but once again it failed because not enough MPs were present.

Some Members of Parliament are frustrated and unhappy that their colleagues are using this tactic to prevent the two laws from being discussed, although it may be possible to pass the Memory Institute Law first. No date has been set for resuming Parliamentary action on this legislation.

Liu tiha tinan sanulu hafoin okupasaun Indonézia nian iha Timor-Leste remata, no liu tiha tinan lima hafoin Komisaun Akollamentu Verdade no Rekonsiliasaun (CAVR) publika nia relatoriu komprensivu, Parlamentu Nasional hahu halo diskusaun ona kona-ba lei rua atu harii agensia governu nian ida hodi tau matan ba implementasaun balu husi CAVR nia rekomendasaun sira no husi Indonézia - Timor-Leste nia Komisaun Verdade no Amizade (KVA), no defini programa reparasaun nian ida.

Lei rua ne'ebé iha ligasaun ba rekomendasaun balu deit husi CAVR nia rekomendasaun lubuk ida ne'ebé luan ba governu no mós instituisaun sira iha Timor-Leste no mós rai seluk, bazeia ba Dokumentu Konseitu ne'ebé dezenvolve husi Grupu Servisu ONG sira nian ida iha Outubru 2009. Iha 6 Jullu 2010, Komisaun A Parlamentu nian hala’o audensia loron ida ho ONG sira inklui membru Grupu Servisu. Iha 7 Jullu, sei hala’o tan audensia loron ida ba grupu vitima sira.

Iha planu atu halo sesaun plenaria ekstraordinariu ida ne'ebé sei komesa debate lei rua ne'e iha loron 8 Jullu, maibe la konsege tanba Komisaun A seidauk pronto. Komisaun A deside sira labele hadiak lei rua ne'e molok Parlamentu ba deskansa ne'ebé ba fulan rua hahu loron 15 Jullu. Maibe, Komisaun A finaliza revisaun no relatorio iha loron 14 Julhu, hanesan hakerek iha komunikade imprensa JSMP nian.


Submissions from 6 July 2010 Parliamentary hearing


Web sites

Dokumentu sira

Submisaun husi audiensia publika PN iha loron 6 Julhu 2010


Fatin web


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