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Conference on

Strengthening the Role of Parliament in Promoting Transparency, Accountability and Combating Corruption in Timor-Leste


The Establishment of a National Network on Anti-Corruption in Timor-Leste

Presentations by Charles Scheiner, La'o Hamutuk

Hotel Timor, Dili
18-19 September 2008


On 11 February 2009, La'o Hamutuk presented a submission (also Tetum) to Parliament regarding the draft law creating the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Our June 2009 Bulletin includes an editorial on this topic.

The law was amended and passed by Parliament on 29 June 2009 and promulgated by the President of the Republic on 15 July as Law No. 8/2009 (Port).


Regarding Challenges of Investigations in Corruption Cases

Timor-Leste, like it or not, is embedded in the globalized free-market economy which puts individual selfishness before collective human well-being. This is the opposite of what is needed to ensure that public resources are used for public purposes, which is the essential objective behind transparency, accountability and combating corruption. It takes extraordinary effort and determination to overcome both individual greed and global “market forces,” but that is what is necessary if Timor-Leste’s resources – in particular  non-renewable oil and gas reserves – are to effectively benefit Timor-Leste’s people.

As we have seen during the past nine years, certain types of economic injustice are not considered corruption, but are accepted as “business as usual” by the institutions and individuals who practice them. For example, the World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund and others encourage Timor-Leste to practice transparency and accountability, even though they do not follow these principles in their own activities.

UNTAET paid its international staff members about 30 times as much as its Timorese workers, and UNMIT continues the pattern. Of the $1,758 million spent by the United Nations on UNTAET and UNMISET between 1999 and 2004, only $94 million, five percent, was spent in Timor-Leste.

Patterns of corrupt behavior are not yet deeply embedded in Timor-Leste’s young political system. Unlike the Philippines and Indonesia, no Timorese political leaders have stolen millions or billions of dollars yet. Therefore, we should discuss ways to prevent corruption before it occurs, as well as to expose and punish corruptors.

As an impoverished, oil-export-dependent nation, Timor-Leste is vulnerable to the “resource curse” which often includes corruption. The amounts of money involved in oil production are so large, and the level of secrecy so high, that temptation can corrupt even normally honest people. Dishonest executives and companies are widespread in the multinational oil industry; it is difficult to find a single major company which has not been implicated in illegal activities. The stakes are so high that bribery and kickbacks are common, with companies offering illegal incentives to government officials to steer contracts their way, to overlook regulatory protections, or to allow violations of environmental or human rights.

Identifying petroleum-related corruption is hard. Developing evidence to bring a corrupt official to trial is even more difficult, compounded by a pervasive pattern of “commercial confidentiality” in the oil industry.

However, in recent years, governments in both rich and poor countries, assisted by international institutions and pushed by civil society, are realizing the importance of transparency – of having information available to the public. Governmental initiatives like the voluntary Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and civil society campaigns like Publish What You Pay have begun to convince legislators around the world to enact laws requiring public disclosure of payments, contracts and other information. These are the first steps toward implementing the principle that those who profit from exploiting publicly-owned resources, such as oil and gas reserves, must be accountable to the public.

Transparency alone is not enough to prevent corruption, or even to discover it. Strong laws preventing conflicts of interest, requiring public officials to declare their assets, outlawing companies doing business with government from giving gifts to public servants, public, multi-source tender and contracting processes with no MOUs secretly signed between companies and government officials, independent external audits, keeping autonomous agencies under control and scrutiny, and checks and balances in decision-making are essential to create a system of accountability which will both prevent corruption and enable investigation and prosecution when necessary.

Even the best legal system, however, is ineffective unless there is public and political will to enforce it without exception. As long as some people can ignore the law with impunity, everybody is tempted to violate it. As long as some investigators or judicial officials are more loyal to powerful individuals than to the rule of the law and the public good, it will  be impossible to investigate or eliminate corruption. In such a climate, the mechanisms of accountability become just another tool for exercising political power, and the people of Timor-Leste will be the ultimate losers.

As the people’s elected representatives, members of Parliament should set an example of public service, putting the needs of the people ahead of personal gain. Regrettably, recent parliamentary actions from pensions to Prados have set the opposite example, that public office serves to enrich those who hold it. Tax reform laws which reward the wealthy, budget rectifications which appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars without accountability, and pardons and amnesties for well-known criminals make people think that state officials take care of themselves and each other.

From our perspective, additional networks, laws, and organs will not solve this problem, and neither will eloquent speeches or mantra-like repetition of “transparency and accountability” or “administrative reform.” Only independent, committed, impartial public servants, who put the people’s interests before their own or their supervisors’, can effectively investigate, prosecute and prevent corruption. With this commitment, backed by a solid legal framework, competent staff, and sufficient resources Timor-Leste’s natural wealth can be kept in the service of its people. Without it, the rich will get richer, those in power will consolidate their control, and the people of Timor-Leste, who won their freedom with tremendous struggle and sacrifice, will once again be victimized.

Kona ba Dezafiu iha Investigasaun ba Kazu Korupsaun sira

Timor-Leste, gosta ka la gosta, habelit metin iha ekonomia merkadu livre nian ne’ebé globalizadu, iha ne’ebé tau interese individual nian as liu fali interese koletivu nian. Ida ne’e kontradís ho buat ida ne’ebé presiza atu asegura katak rekursu públiku uza duni ba interese públiku nian, ne’ebé sai objektivu esensiál husi transpárensia, akontabilidade no anti-korupsaun. Presiza duni esforsu no determinasaun estraordinário atu domina ema ida-idak nia ka’an-ten no mós “forsa global merkadu” nian, maibé ida ne’e mak buat ida ne’ebé presiza se Timor-Leste nia rekursu sira – liu-liu nasaun ne’e nia rezerva mina no gás ne’ebé labele hafoun fali – atu fó benefísiu efektivu duni ba Timor oan sira.

Hanesan buat ne’ebé ami hare ona durante tinan sia ikus ne’e nia laran, tipu balu husi injustisa ekonomia nian la konsidera nudar korupsaun, maibé instituisaun sira no individu sira ne’ebé pratika buat ne’e simu prátika ne’e hanesan “bisnis hanesan bai-bain.” Nudar ezemplu, Banku Mundial, Nasoens Unidas, Fundus Monetáriu Internasionál no sel-seluk tan enkoraje Timor-Leste atu prátika transpárensia no akontabilidade, maski sira rasik la tuir prinsípiu hirak ne’e iha sira nia atividade rasik.

UNTAET selu ba nia staf internasionál ida-idak boot liu dala tolunulu husi saláriu ba staf Timor oan sira, no UNMIT kontinua modelu ida ne’e. Husi osan miliaun $ 1,758 ne’ebé gasta husi Nasoens Unidas ba UNTAET no UNMISET entre tinan 1999 ho 2004, $94 ka porsentu lima de’it mak gasta iha Timor-Leste.

Hanesan nasaun foun, Timor-Leste nia sistema polítika seidauk iha tradisaun koruption klean. La hanesan Filipina no Indonesia, lider Timor-oan sira seidauk nauk dolar milian ka bilaun. Entaun, ita bele diskusi oinsá prevene korupsaun molok nia akontese, hamutuk ho oinsá kastigu ema depues nia halo korupsaun.

Nudar nasaun kiak, no nasaun ne’ebé depende ba esporta mina, Timor-Leste vulnerável teb-tebes ba “malisan rekursu”. Kuantidade osan iha produsaun mina nian boot teb-tebes, no nivel segredu nian ne’ebé ás teb-tebes, halo tentasaun ba korupsaun nian bele mosu, mesmu ba ema bai-bain ne’ebé honestu. Ezekutivu no kompañia ne’ebé la honestu namkari iha indústria multinasional mina nian; difisil atu hetan de’it kompañia boot ida ne’ebé seidauk envolve iha atividade ilegál ruma. Estaka as teb-tebes nune’e subornu no fó persentajen husi kontratu (kickback) sai buat ne’ebé bai-bain, ho kompañia ne’ebé oferese insentivu ilegál ba funsionáriu governu nian atu dirije kontratu tuir sira nia hakarak, atu lalika preokupa ho regulamentu ne’ebé atu proteje, ka atu husik liu de’it violasaun ba meiu-ambiente ka direitus umanus.

Identifika korupsaun ne’ebé iha relasaun ho petróleu difisil tebes. Dezenvolve evidénsia atu lori ofisiál koruptu ida ba tribunal hetok susar liu tan, taka metin iha modelu husi “konfidensialidade komérsiu” ne’ebé metin ona iha indústria mina nian.

Maibé, iha tinan hirak foin lalais ne’e governu iha nasaun riku no kiak sira, ho apoiu husi instituisaun internasionál sira no dudu husi sosiedade sivíl, komesa rekoñese importánsia husi transpárensia – atu husik informasaun nakloke ba públiku nia asesu. Inisiativa governu sira nian hanesan Inisiativa Transparénsia Indústria Ekstraktiva (EITI) no kampaña sosiedade sivíl nian hanesan Publika Buat Ne’ebé Imi Selu (PWYP) komesa konvense lejizladór iha mundu tomak atu kria lei ne’ebé ejizi ekspozisaun ba gastu, kontratu no informasaun seluk ba públiku. Buat sira ne’e mak pasu primeiru atu implementa prinsípiu katak sira ne’ebé hetan lukru husi esploitasaun ba rekursu públiku nian, hanesan rezerva mina no gás, tenke responsabiliza ba povo.

Transparénsia mesak de’it la to’o atu prevene korupsaun, ka atu deskobre de’it buat ne’e. Lei ne’ebé forte  prevene konflitu interese, rekerimentu ba ofisiál públiku nian atu deklara sira nia riku soin, bandu kompañia sira ne’ebé halo bisnis ho governu atu fó prezente ba funsionáriu públiku, prosesu tender no kontratu ne’ebé nakloke, públiku no multi-source, oficias sira la bele asina MOU segredo ho kompania internasional sira, audit esternal ne’ebé independente, kontrola no tau matan nafatin ba instituisaun públiku sira, no investiga no tetu didi’ak iha halo desizaun importante atu kria sistema akontabilidade ida ne’ebé sei prevene korupsaun no fó kbiit atu halo investigasaun no julgamentu wainhira presiza.

Maski iha ona sistema legal ida ne’ebé di’ak liu hotu, maibé, se la efektivu se laiha hakarak polítika no públiku ida atu implementa buat ne’e sem exesaun. Durante ema balu sei bele hasees lei ho impunidade, ema hotu tenta atu viola nafatin lei sira. Durante investigador no ofisiál judisiál nian balu obedese liu ba ema sira ne’ebé iha podér duke ba lei no interese públiku, investiga no hamoos korupsaun sei sai buat ida ne’ebé imposivel. Iha íklima hanesan ne’e, mekanizmu akontabilidade nian sai de’it hanesan meius ida atu hala’o podér polítika, no povu Timor-Leste sei sai ema ne’ebé lakon liu.

Nudar reprezentante ne’ebé povu mak hili, membru Parlamentu tenke hatudu ezemplu ida kona ba servisu públiku, tau nesesidade povu nian uluk liu interese pesoál. Triste liu, asaun parlamentu nian komesa husi lei pensaun to kareta Prado fó ona ezemplu balu ne’ebé kontradís, katak posizaun ofisiál serve atu hariku ema sira ne’ebé kaer pozisaun ne’e.  Reforma taxa ne’ebé fó rekompensa ba ema riku sira, orsamentu rectificativo ne’ebé ho miliaun atus barak sem akontabilidade, ho perdaun no amnestia ba kriminozu sira ne’ebé ema hotu hatene, halo povu hanoin katak ofisiál sira iha nasaun ne’e nian tau matan ba sira nia an rasik no tau matan ba malu de’it.

Tuir ami nia perspetiva, aumenta tan rede, lei, no órgaun sira, sei la rezolve problema ida ne’e, no sei la diskursu kapaas ka repete mantra kona ba “transpárensia no akontabilidade,” ka “reforma administrativa.” Tenke iha funsionáriu públiku ida ne’ebé independente, iha komitmentu no imparsiál, ne’ebé tau povu nia interese as liu ninia interese ka nia nai-ulun nia interese, atu investiga, julga no prevene korupsaun ho efektivu. Ho komitmentu ida ne’e, tane ho báze legal ida ne’ebé metin no staf ne’ebé kompetente ho rekursu suficiente, Timor-Leste nia riku soin sira bele tau nafatin atu servi nia povu. La ho ne’e, ema ne’ebé riku sei sai riku liu tan, sira ne’ebé iha podér sei hametin liu tan nia kontrolu, no povu Timor-Leste, ne’ebé manán sira nia independénsia ho luta no sakrifísiu ida ne’ebé boot teb-tebes, dala ida tan sei sai vítima.

Regarding Parliament’s Oversight Role: Challenges and Constraints

Parliament has a critical role in protecting the rule of law and guarding against abuse of power

This is written into TL’s Constitution Article 95.1, which gives Parliament the mandate “to make laws on basic issues of the country’s domestic and foreign policy,” as well as Article 95.3(e), which assigns responsibility to parliament to “monitor the execution of the state budget.”

We at La’o Hamutuk do not believe that problems are solved by creating more networks or commissions. Rather, public servants and citizens need to commit themselves not to abuse their authority or the state resources they are responsible for.

If someone abuses the public trust by violating this commitment, he or she must be held responsible according to clear, consistently-enforced laws.

The ongoing impunity for crimes against humanity committed during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste is an example – justice is not achieved by investigations, reports or truth commissions, but requires holding individuals accountable for their actions, with appropriate punishments.

Parliament’s fundamental role is to make laws, and strong, effective laws are the most effective means to prevent corruption.

For the last five years, La’o Hamutuk has repeatedly urged Parliaments and Governments in Timor-Leste to enact strong laws to control corruption, conflicts of interest, procurement, and secrecy.

For example, when first version of the National Petroleum Authority Decree-Law was circulated for public comment in early 2007, we wrote:

Excessive centralization characterizes much of Timor-Leste’s petroleum legislation, and is dangerous for many reasons. Checks and balances, consultation, and transparency are essential not only among ministries (within Government), but also with other State institutions (President, Parliament, Provedor, judiciary) and with non-governmental actors (business, civil society, local communities).

Transparency and public information are essential tools to help prevent corruption, collusion and nepotism. We repeat our call for a comprehensive, government-wide, legally-binding policy of public information based on the principle that everything should be public unless there is a compelling reason for it to be kept secret.

Conflicts of interest are permitted by many articles in the proposed laws, and little is included to hold wrong-doers accountable for their actions. There would be no need for laws if everybody was well-intentioned and performed their tasks flawlessly – the purpose of legislation is to ensure that human greed or fallibility do not cause serious consequences for the people and the State.

Timor-Leste should have a government-wide conflict of interest law, applied to all officials with decision-making authority. In addition to prohibiting involvement with businesses whose interests overlap with their regulatory duties, such a law should require them to declare their assets prior to beginning their service, annually thereafter and when their service is completed.

Autonomous agencies bring particular risks, in that they are even more distant from oversight and accountability than other public functions. Since these are often established by decree-law, the only way Parliament can keep them honest is to enact anti-corruption laws which apply to all public servants, including those who work in institutos publicos.

In addition to holding public officials accountable, Parliament can pass legislation outlawing payment of bribes and kickbacks. Companies which engage in such behavior can be banned from future government contracts. In extreme cases, criminal penalties should be applied to those who commit such crimes, as well as the leaders of the companies responsible.

La’o Hamutuk has long recommended strong laws to manage petroleum activities and the Petroleum Fund. In our 2004 submission on the draft Petroleum Act, we wrote

Article 139 of the Constitution of Timor-Leste declares that undersea and underground resources belong to the State of Timor-Leste, not to any Government or Ministry which holds office at a particular instant in time. In preparing this submission, we are mindful that this regime will establish laws and precedents that will endure far beyond the tenure of our current government officials, advisors, contractors or political parties. Timor-Leste needs to protect itself against potential abuses from hypothetical ill-intentioned, corrupt institutions and individuals who will be attracted by the many billions of dollars available from our resources. Our current enlightened leadership will not be there forever.

Unfortunately, our advice was not followed, and Timor-Leste’s people may soon suffer the consequences. It is not too late to prevent them. La'o Hamutuk remains ready to assist members of Parliament.

Kona ba Papél Parlamentu nian atu superviziona: Dezafiu no Limitasaun

Parlamentu iha papél ida ne’ebé krítiku iha protesaun ba papél lei nian no guarda kontra abuzu de podér.

Konstituisaun Timor-Leste nian artigu 95.1 fó mandatu ba Parlamentu “atu halo lei ba asuntu báziku ba nasaun ne’e nia polítika doméstika no mós ba rai li’ur nian,” no mós Artigu 95.3 (e) fó responsabilidade ba Parlamentu atu “monitor ezekusaun orsamentu estadu nian.”

Ami husi institutu La’o Hamutuk la fiar katak problema sira ne’e sei rezolve ho kriasaun rede ka komisaun seluk tan. Ami hanoin, funsionáriu públiku no sidadaun presiza atu fó komitmentu ba sira nia-an atu labele abuza sira nia autoridade ka rekursu estadu nian ne’ebé sai sira nia responsabilidade.

Se ema ida viola fiar husi públiku hodi viola komitmentu ida ne’e, nia tenke simu responsabilidade tuir lei ne’ebé konsistente no klaru ne’ebé la’o dau-daun hela.

Impunidade ne’ebé la’o nafatin ba krime kontra umanidade ne’ebé komete durante okupasaun Indonézia nian iha Timor-Leste mak ezemplu ida – justisa sei la hetan ho investigasaun, relatóriu ka komisaun lia-loos, maibé rekere atu lori ema atu responsabiliza ba sira nia asaun, ho kastigu ida ne’ebé tuir sira nia sala.

Papél fundamental Parlamentu nian mak atu halo lei, no lei ne’ebé forte no efektivu mak meius ne’ebé efektivu liu atu prevene korupsaun.

Durante tinan lima ikus ne’e, La’o Hamutuk fila-fila husu ba Parlamentu no Governu sira iha Timor-Leste atu halo lei ne’ebé forte hodi prevene no kontrola korupsaun, konflitu interese, prokuramentu, no segredu.

Nudar ezemplu, wainhira versaun primeiru husi Dekretu Lei kona ba Autoridade Nasionál Petróleu nian sírkula iha tinan 2007 nia rohan, ami hakerek:

Sentralizasaun ne’ebé demais, karakteriza Timor-Leste nia lejizlasaun kona ba petróleu, no perigu tanba razaun barak. Investiga no tetu didi’ak, konsultasaun, no transpárensia importante la’ós de’it iha ministériu sira (governu nia laran), maibé mós ho instituisaun estadu nian sira seluk (Prezidente, Parlamentu, Provedor, judisiariu) no ho autores non-governmental sira (bisnis, sosiedade sivíl, komunidade lokál).

Transparénsia no informasaun ba públiku mak meius sira ne’ebé importante atu ajuda prevene korupsaun, kolusaun no nepotizmu. Ami ezije ba polítika informasaun públiku ida ne’ebé iha lasu legal, komprensivu no kobre governu nia parte hot-hotu bazeia ba prinsípiu katak buat hotu tenke sai públiku, exeptu kuandu iha duni razaun ida atu rai informasaun ne’e nudar segredu.

Konflitu interese permite iha artigu barak, no iha buat uitoan de’it mak inklui hodi husu sira ne’ebé halo sala responsabiliza ba sira nia hahalok. Sei laiha nesesidade ba lei se ema hotu iha intensaun di’ak no hala’o sira nia servisu ho los – objektivu husi lei ne’e nian mak atu asegura katak ema nia kan-ten no frakeza sei la hamosu konsekuénsia todan ba povu no estadu.

Timor-Leste tenke iha lei kona ba konflitu interese ba governu tomak, aplika ba ofisiál hot-hotu ne’ebé iha autoridade atu halo desizaun. Hodi aumenta bandu atu involve ho bisnis ne’ebé sira nia interese hakat liu sira nia knaar ne’ebé regula ona, lei hanesan ne’e tenke rekere ba sira atu deklara sira nia rikusoin antes hahú sira nia knaar, hafoin halo kada tinan no iha tempo ne’ebé kompleta ona sira nia servisu.

Ajénsia Autónomu sira hanesan ANP hodi risku partikulár ruma, tanba sira sai dook liu tan husi supervijaun no akontabilidade duke funsaun públiku sira seluk. Hare katak, sira ne’e dala barak estabelese ho dekretu lei, dalan ida de’it atu Parlamentu bele asegura katak sira honestu nafatin mak halo lei anti korupsaun ida ne’ebé aplika ba funsionáriu públiku sira hotu, inklui sira ne’ebé servisu iha instituto públiku sira.

Hodi aumenta tan kontrola ba ofisiál públiku sira atu akuntabel, Parlamentu bele pasa lejizlasaun ida ne’ebé bandu subornu no fó persentajen husi kontratu (kickback). Kompañia ne’ebé involve iha hahalok hanesan ne’e bele deskualifika husi governu nia kontratu iha futuru. Iha kazu ne’ebé todan, kastigu kriminál tenke aplika ba sira ne’ebé komete krime hanesan ne’e, nune mós ho boot husi kompañia ne’ebé responsavel.

La’o Hamutuk kleur ona rekomenda lei ida ne’ebé forte atu maneja atividade petróleu no fundu petróleu. Iha ami nia submisaun tinan 2004 ba esbosu Akta Petróleu nian, ami hakerek

Artiklu 139 husi konstituisaun Timor-Leste nian deklara katak estadu Timor-Leste mak sai nain ba rekursu iha tasi okos no rai okos, la’ós governu ka ministériu ida ne’ebé kaer servisu iha tempu partikulár ida. Regime ida ne’e sei estabelese lei no matadalan ne’ebé sei dura liu tempu servisu husi ofisiál governu nian oras ne’e. Timor-Leste presiza atu proteje nia-an kontra violasaun potensiál husi hipótese sira ne’ebé ho intensaun at, instituisaun sira ne’ebé koruptu no individual sira ne’ebé sei laran monu ho osan biliaun husi ita nia rekursu. Ita nia lideransa ne’ebé ho hanoin luan oras ne’e sei laiha ne’e  ba nafatin.

Triste liu, ami nia sujestaun sira la tuir, no povu Timor-Leste dala ruma sei terus husi nia konsekuénsia sira. Seidauk tarde liu atu prevene konsekuénsia sira ne’e. La’o Hamutuk pronto nafatin atu ajuda deputado sira.

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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