Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Republika Demokratika Timor Lorosa'e;
Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste
Joined United Nations: 27 September 2002
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 17 March 2013
note: other estimates range as low as 800,000 (July 2012 est.)
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao
(formerly known as
Jose Alexandre Gusmao)
Prime Minister since 8 August 2007
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a
second term); election last held on 17 March 2012 with a run-off on
16 April 2012
Next scheduled election: March 2017
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Following elections, president appoints leader of majority party or
majority coalition as prime minister Elections last held on 7 July
Next scheduled election: July 2017
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan, small Chinese minority
Roman Catholic 98%, Muslim 1%, Protestant 1% (2005)
Republic with 13 administrative districts; Legal system is a UN-drafted legal system based on Indonesian law but is to be replaced
by civil and penal codes based on Portuguese law; these have passed but have not been promulgated; has not accepted compulsory
Executive: the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); an election was held on 17
March 2012 with a run-off on 16 April 2012); following parliamentary elections, the president appoints the leader of majority party
or majority coalition as the prime minister (next election: 2017)
Legislative: Unicameral National Parliament (the number of seats can vary from 52 to 65; members are elected by popular vote to
serve five-year terms in a modified proportional representation system)
elections: elections were held on 7 July 2012 (next to be held in July 2017)
Judicial: Supreme Court of Justice - constitution calls for one judge to be appointed by National Parliament and rest appointed by
Superior Council for Judiciary; note - until Supreme Court is established, Court of Appeals is highest court
Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), Indonesian, English
note: there are about 16 indigenous languages; Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak are spoken by significant numbers of people
The island of Timor was populated as part of the human migrations that have shaped Australasia more generally. It is believed that
survivors from three waves of migration still live in the country. The first is described by anthropologists as people of the Vedo-
Australoid type, who arrived from the north and west approximately 40,000 to 20,000 years BC. Others of this type include the
Wanniyala-Aetto (Veddas) of Sri Lanka. Around 3000 BC, a second migration brought Melanesians. The earlier Vedo-Australoid
peoples withdrew at this time to the mountainous interior. Finally, proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina.
Hakka traders are among those descended from this final group. Early European explorers report that the island had a number of
small chiefdoms or princedoms in the early 16th century. One of the most significant is the Wehale kingdom in central Timor, to
which the Tetum, Bunaq and Kemak ethnic groups were aligned. The first Europeans to arrive in the area were the Portuguese, who
landed near modern Pante Macassar. In 1556 a group of Dominican friars established the village of Lifau there. In 1702 the
territory officially became a Portuguese colony, known as Portuguese Timor, when Lisbon sent its first governor, with Lifau as its
capital. Portuguese control over the territory was tenuous particularly in the mountainous interior. Dominican friars, the occasional
Dutch raid, and the Timorese themselves provided opposition to the Portuguese. The control of colonial administrators was largely
restricted to Dili had to rely on traditional tribal chieftains for control and influence. For the Portuguese, East Timor remained little
more than a neglected trading post until the late nineteenth century. The capital was moved to Dili in 1767, due to attacks from the
Dutch, who were colonizing the rest of the island and the surrounding archipelago that is now Indonesia. The border between
Portuguese Timor and the Dutch East Indies was formally decided in 1859 with the Treaty of Lisbon. The definitive border was
drawn by the Hague in 1916, and it remains the international boundary between the modern states of East Timor and Indonesia.
Although Portugal was neutral during World War II, in December 1941, Portuguese Timor was occupied by Australian and Dutch
forces, which were expecting a Japanese invasion. When the Japanese did occupy Timor, in February 1942, a 400-strong Dutch-
Australian force and large numbers of Timorese volunteers engaged them in a one-year guerilla campaign. After the allied evacuation
in February 1943 the East Timorese continued fighting the Japanese, with comparatively little collaboration with the enemy taking
place. Portuguese Timor was handed back to Portugal after the war, but Portugal continued to neglect the colony. The colony was
declared an 'Overseas Province' of the Portuguese Republic in 1955. During this time, Indonesia did not express any interest in
Portuguese Timor, despite the anti-colonial rhetoric of President Sukarno. This was partly as Indonesia was preoccupied with
gaining control of West Irian, now called Papua, which had been retained by the Netherlands after Indonesian independence. After
the fall of the Portuguese regime in 1974, independence was encouraged by the new, democratic Portuguese government. One of
the first acts of the new government in Lisbon was to appoint a new Governor for the colony on November 18, 1974, in the form of
Mário Lemos Pires, who would ultimately be, as events were to prove, the last Governor of Portuguese Timor. One of his first
decrees made upon his arrival in Dili was to legalise political parties in preparation for elections to a Constituent Assembly in 1976.
Developments in Portuguese Timor during 1974 and 1975 were watched closely by Indonesia and Australia. Australia's Labor
Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, had developed a close working relationship with the Indonesian leader, and also followed events
with concern. At a meeting in the Javanese town of Wonosobo in 1974, he told Suharto that an independent Portuguese Timor
would be 'an unviable state, and a potential threat to the stability of the region'. While recognising the need for an act of self-
determination, he considered integration with Indonesia to be in Portuguese Timor's best interests. The United States had also
expressed concerns over Portuguese Timor in the wake of the war in Vietnam. Having gained Indonesia as an ally, Washington did
not want to see the vast archipelago destabilised by a left-wing regime in its midst. On August 11, 1975, the UDT mounted a coup,
in a bid to halt the increasing popularity of Fretilin. Governor Pires fled to the offshore island of Atauro, north of the capital, Dili,
from where he later attempted to broker an agreement between the two sides. Indonesia sought to portray the conflict as a civil
war, which had plunged Portuguese Timor into chaos, but after only a month, aid and relief agencies from Australia and elsewhere
visited the territory, and reported that the situation was stable. On November 28, 1975, Fretilin made a unilateral declaration of
independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (Republica Democrática de Timor-Leste in Portuguese). This was not
recognised by either Portugal, Indonesia, or Australia. Reported death tolls from the 24-year occupation range from 60,000 to
200,000. Timorese groups fought a resistance war against Indonesian forces for the independence of East Timor, during which
many atrocities and human rights violations by the Indonesian army were reported. The Dili Massacre on 12 November 1991 was a
turning point for sympathy for pro-independence East Timorese. A burgeoning East Timor solidarity movement grew in Portugal,
Australia, and the United States. In Australia, there was also widespread public outrage, and criticism of Canberra's close
relationship with the Suharto regime and recognition of Jakarta's sovereignty over East Timor. Portugal started to apply international
pressure unsuccessfully, constantly raising the issue with its fellow European Union members in their dealings with Indonesia.
However, other EU countries like the UK had close economic relations with Indonesia, including arms sales, and saw no advantage
in forcefully raising the issue. However in 1999, the Indonesian government decided, under strong international pressure, to hold a
referendum on the future of East Timor. On 20 September 1999 the Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force
for East Timor (INTERFET) deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. The administration of East Timor was
taken over by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), established on October
25, 1999. The INTERFET deployment ended on February 14, 2000 with the transfer of military command to the UN. Elections
were held in late 2001 for a constituent assembly to draft a constitution, a task finished in February 2002. East Timor became
formally independent on May 20, 2002. Xanana Gusmão was sworn in as the country's President. East Timor became a member of
the UN on September 27, 2002. Unrest started in the country in April 2006 following the riots in Dili. A rally in support of 600 East
Timorese soldiers, who were dismissed for deserting their barracks, turned into rioting where five people were killed and over
20,000 fled their homes. Fierce fighting between pro-government troops and disaffected Falintil troops broke out in May 2006.
Australia, Portugal, New Zealand, and Malaysia have sent troops to Timor, attempting to quell the violence. On 21 June 2006,
President Xanana Gusmão formally requested Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri step down. A majority of Fretilin party members
demanded the prime minister's resignation, accusing him of lying about distributing weapons to civilians. On 26 June 2006 Prime
Minister Mari Alkatiri resigned stating, "I declare I am ready to resign my position as prime minister of the government… so as to
avoid the resignation of His Excellency the President of the Republic". In August, rebel leader Alfredo Reinado escaped from
Becora Prison, in Dili. Tensions were later raised after armed clashes between youth gangs forced the closure of Presidente Nicolau
Lobato International Airport in late October. In April 2007, Gusmão declined another presidential term. In the build-up to the April
2007 presidential elections there were renewed outbreaks of violence in February and March 2007. José Ramos-Horta was
inaugurated as President on May 20, 2007, following his election win in the second round. Gusmão was sworn in as Prime Minister
on August 8, 2007. President Ramos-Horta was critically injured in an assassination attempt on February 11, 2008, in a failed coup
apparently perpetrated by Alfredo Reinado, a renegade soldier who died in the attack. Prime Minister Gusmão also faced gunfire
separately but escaped unharmed. The Australian government immediately sent reinforcements to East Timor to keep order. New
Zealand announced in early November, 2012, it would be pulling its troops out of the country, saying the country was now stable
and calm. Five New Zealand troops were killed in the 13 years the country had a military presence in East Timor.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Timor-Leste
Since its 1999 independence, Timor-Leste has faced great challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure, strengthening the civil
administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the work force. The development of oil and gas resources in offshore
waters has greatly supplemented government revenues. This technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs
for the unemployed in part because there are no production facilities in Timor-Leste. Gas is piped to Australia. In June 2005, the
National Parliament unanimously approved the creation of a Petroleum Fund to serve as a repository for all petroleum revenues and
to preserve the value of Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. The Fund held assets of US$9.3 billion as of
December 2011. The economy continues to recover from the mid-2006 outbreak of violence and civil unrest, which disrupted both
private and public sector economic activity. Government spending increased markedly from 2009 through 2012, primarily on basic
infrastructure, including electricity and roads. Limited experience in procurement and infrastructure building has hampered these
projects. The underlying economic policy challenge the country faces remains how best to use oil-and-gas wealth to lift the non-oil
economy onto a higher growth path and to reduce poverty. Timor-Leste had a balanced budget in 2012 with government
expenditures of $1.7 billion focusing on development of public infrastructure. On the strength of its oil-wealth, the economy has
achieved real growth of approximately 10% per year for the last several years, among the highest sustained growth rates in the
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Timor-Leste)
Politics of East Timor takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime
Minister of East Timor is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the
government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the
executive and the legislature. The Timorese constitution was modelled on that of Portugal. The country is still in the process of
building its administration and governmental institutions.
The Head of state of the East Timorese republic is the president, who is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and whose role
is largely symbolic, though he is able to veto some legislation. Following elections, the president appoints as the prime minister, the
leader of the majority party or majority coalition. As head of government the prime minister presides over the Council of State or
The unicameral Timorese National Parliament (Parlamento Nacional) has 88 members, 13 elected in single seat constituencies and
75 elected by proportional representation for afive-year term. The number of seats can vary from a minimum of 52 to a maximum of
65, though it exceptionally has 88 members at present, due to this being its first term of office. The East Timorese constitution was
modelled on that of Portugal. The country is still in the process of building its administration and governmental institutions.
A presidential election was held in Timor-Leste on 17 March and 16 April 2012 in order to choose a president for a five-year term.
Incumbent president Jose Ramos-Horta, who was eligible for a second and final term as president, announced that he would seek
nomination to be a candidate in the election. The election was seen as a test for the "young democracy" in seeking to take control of
its own security. Former military commander Taur Matan Ruak provisionally beat Francisco Guterres in a second round runoff.
Parliamentary elections were held in East Timor on 7 July 2012. The United Nations stated that it would withdraw its 1,300 troops
if the elections passed off peacefully. The National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction, led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão,
was victorious with 36.66% of the vote and a forecasted 30 seats.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of East Timor
Three stretches of land borders with Timor-Leste have yet to be delimited, two of which are in the Oecussi exclave area, and no
maritime or Economic Exclusion Zone boundaries have been established between the countries; maritime boundaries with Indonesia
remain unresolved; many refugees who left Timor-Leste in 2003 still reside in Indonesia and refuse repatriation; in 2007, Australia
and Timor-Leste signed a 50-year development zone and revenue sharing agreement in lieu of a maritime boundary
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Reports: Timor-Leste
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Timor-Leste is a multiparty parliamentary republic. President Jose Ramos-Horta was head of state. Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana
Gusmao headed a five-party coalition government formed following free and fair elections in 2007. National security forces reported to
civilian authorities, but there were some problems with discipline and accountability.
Principal human rights problems included police use of excessive force during arrest and abuse of authority; arbitrary arrest and
detention; and an inefficient and understaffed judiciary that deprived citizens of due process and an expeditious and fair trial.
Other human rights problems included gender-based violence, violence against children including sexual assault, corruption, uneven
access to civil and criminal justice, warrantless search and arrest, and poor prison conditions.
The government took concrete steps to prosecute members of the security services who used excessive force or inappropriately treated
detainees. However, public perceptions of impunity persiste
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26 December 2011
Human Rights Council
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to
Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
Mission to Timor-Leste
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visited Timor-Leste from 7 to 14 February 2011. The purpose of the
visit was to learn about the efforts made to address enforced disappearances which occurred in the past.
The Working Group acknowledges the many efforts the country has made despite the challenges it faces. However, much remains to be
done to achieve the rights to truth, justice and reparation for those who disappeared and their families.
The main recommendations of the Working Group include compliance with the recommendations made by the Commission for
Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and the bilateral Commission on Truth and Friendship; the swift adoption of the draft laws on
the establishment of the Memory Institute and a national reparations programme; the need to achieve more truth about what occurred in
the past; a greater focus on the judicial process; and the incorporation of an autonomous crime of enforced disappearance into the
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Freedom In The World 2013 Report
Political Rights Score: 3
Civil Liberties Score: 4
Status: Partly Free
In 2012, Timor-Leste successfully held presidential and parliamentary elections, which were deemed largely free and fair by observers.
Former head of the National Defense Force Major General José Maria Vasconcelos, popularly known as Taur Matan Ruak, became the
country’s new president. The National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction, in coalition with the Democratic Party and the new
Frenti-Mudanca, formed a government in August, led again by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste
departed in December.
Timor-Leste successfully completed presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012, which, despite some minor technical problems,
were deemed largely free and fair by observers. Fretilin party chair Francisco Guterres, known as Lú-Olo, and former head of the
National Defense Force (F-FDTL) Major General José Maria Vasconcelos, better known as Taur Matan Ruak, emerged as contenders
after the first round of the presidential election on March 17. Ruak, who ran as an independent but received last minute support from the
CNRT, won in the second round on April 16 with 61 percent of the vote.
Due to the 3 percent electoral threshold to enter Parliament, only 4 out of 21 competing parties garnered seats in the July 7 legislative
elections. Gusmão secured a second term as prime minister after the CNRT captured 30 seats, just short of the number needed to form
a government. The CNRT entered into a coalition with the Democratic Party, which won 8 seats, and the new Frenti-Mudanca—which
had broken from Fretilin in 2011—which took 2 seats; the new government took office in August. Fretilin, which secured 25 seats,
remained in opposition.
UNMIT formally departed Timor in December after transferring full responsibility to Timor’s National Police in October. The security
operations of the Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) concluded in November 2012, and the ISF will withdraw by April
2013. Various UN agencies will maintain offices in the country.
East Timor’s weak economy is fueled primarily by oil and gas revenues. Despite an oil fund balance valued at over $11.7 billion at the
end of the year, East Timor remained the poorest country in Southeast Asia, with more than 40 percent of the population living below
the national poverty line.
East Timor is an electoral democracy. The 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections were deemed generally free and fair. The
directly elected president is a largely symbolic figure, with formal powers limited to the right to veto legislation and make certain
appointments. The leader of the majority party or coalition in the 65-seat, unicameral Parliament becomes prime minister. The president
and members of Parliament serve five-year terms, with the president eligible for a maximum of two terms.
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13 March 2013
Timor-Leste: Journalists at risk of imprisonment for exposing corruption
All charges must be dropped against two Timorese journalists facing prison sentences for exposing alleged corruption in their country’s
judicial system, Amnesty International said.
A court in Timor-Leste’s capital Dili is tomorrow set to deliver its verdict against Oscar Maria Salsinha of the Suara Timor Lorosa’e
newspaper and Raimundo Oki of the Independente newspaper. The two reporters are accused of “slanderous denunciations”, which
carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment or a fine.
The charges stem from separate articles Salsinha and Oki wrote on 31 December 2011 and 2 January 2012, both on the suspected
involvement of a District Prosecutor in receiving a bribe in a traffic accident case which occurred on 18 October 2011.
“These two journalists have done nothing but their job and exercised their right to freedom of expression by reporting on possible
corruption in the judicial system,” Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director said.
“If they are convicted, it could set a dangerous precedent for journalists and human rights defenders in Timor-Leste, where the legal
system could be used to silence critical voices. It would also send a chilling signal on wider issues of freedom of expression and the
media in the country.
“While everyone has the right to protection against unlawful attacks on their reputation, this should be a matter for civil litigation, not
“If the two men are convicted and imprisoned tomorrow, Amnesty International will campaign for their immediate and unconditional
The two journalists have been charged with violating Article 285 of the Timor-Leste Penal Code criminalizing “slanderous denunciations”.
Such legal provisions are incompatible with full respect for and proper protection of freedom of expression as provided for in Article 19
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Timor-Leste ratified in 2003, as well as the Timor-Leste Constitution.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has criticized the use of criminal defamation charges as a means of repressing
freedom of expression and has explained that charges related to defamation, libel and slander should be dealt with by the authorities
under civil, not criminal, law and that there should not be prison sentences for such charges.
The UN Human Rights Committee has also stressed that imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty in such cases.
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Schools and Armed Conflict
July 20, 2011
In many countries around the world, the ability of children to obtain an education in a safe and nurturing environment is being disrupted
by armed forces and non-state armed groups who attack schools or who occupy and use schools for long periods. This report examines
the laws and practices of 56 countries around the world, and evaluates global progress on ensuring that schools and other education
facilities are protected during times of conflict.
I I. Explicit Protection from Attack: Criminalizing Deliberate Attacks on Education Buildings
Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor
The Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor was established by the UN following the withdrawal of Indonesia from East Timor
(now Timor Leste) in 1999. The panels held jurisdiction over serious international and national crimes committed between January and
October of 1999, including “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to … education … provided they are not military
objectives,” which it recognized constituted a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. Human Rights
Watch was unable to identify anyone charged under this provision in the 55 cases before the panel.
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ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRIME MINISTER KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO
ON THE OCCASION OF THE END OF MISSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL STABILISATION FORCE
21 November 2012
Ministry of Defence
It is a great pleasure to speak today at this landmark ceremony marking the end of mission of the International Stabilisation Force in
This is an important occasion for Timor-Leste, as well as for our friends and partners, Australia and New Zealand. Following a request
made by Timor-Leste in May 2006, the ISF was deployed to our nation to help maintain and restore public order.
At that time, Timor-Leste was experiencing widespread unrest and violence. In the immense and difficult task of building our State,
we had stumbled, and we knew that we needed international help to get back on track. We were fortunate to be able to rely on the great
solidarity, as well as the operational readiness, of both Australia and New Zealand.
The arrival of the ISF was welcomed by our people, and the soldiers played an important role in the restoration of normality in our
country. Timor-Leste has now enjoyed many years of peace and security, which has provided a foundation for our country to grow,
and from which we can work to build our nation and tackle poverty.
It is thanks to this foundation of security that Timor-Leste was able to move beyond dealing with short term crises, and engage in long
term planning to prepare and implement our Strategic Development Plan 2011- 2030.
On behalf of the Government and the People of Timor-Leste I give thanks to Australia and New Zealand, and the brave soldiers that
served with the ISF, for helping us achieve stability. As a result we now look to the future with optimism and hope.
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Joint submission from the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and
Justice and Civil Society organizations in Timor-Leste
United Nations Universal Periodic Review
21 March 2011
1. This joint submission was prepared under an agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman (Provedoria for Human Rights and
Justice-PDHJ) and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Timor- Leste. A National Secretariat was established through
coordination by the PDHJ to bring together its staff and representatives from NGOs. A team for analysis and drafting was established
under the leadership of Forum Tau Matan (FTM). This technical secretariat gathered together reports resulting from civil society
discussion groups in the thirteen district (list of NGOs in Annex). This report was prepared according to the guidelines adopted by the
Human Rights Council.
II. BACKGROUND AND FRAMEWORK
A. Scope of International Obligations
2.Despite many challenges, Timor Leste has already ratified the most important human rights treaties, which is an important step
towards building a strong nation with its basis in international instruments, particularly in guaranteeing success along the path towards the
institutionalization of human rights principles and democratization. However, it has still not ratified the Convention on the Rights on the
Persons with Disabilities and the Convention for the protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
3.In order to move forward in this area, Timor Leste has had to make efforts to institutionalize the principles of these treaties in policy,
programs, legislations and the state budget. At the same time it has had to adopt mechanisms to nationalize these international
instruments in the consciousness of citizens, as a means to ensure strong relations between the
people and the state in the context of democratic nation building.
B .Legislative and Constitutional Framework
4. The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste (Article 9) accepts the adoption of the general and customary principles
of international law and treaties ratified by Timor-Leste. It emphasizes that all national legislation must not be in contradiction with it.
The government, representing the state, has already presentedtwo initial reports regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child and
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Despite this, the State has failed to adopt in full the
general recommendations of the Committees of these two conventions. Furthermore, Timor Leste is already late in presenting its reports
under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against All Forms of Torture, Inhumane and Degrading
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"Petition for urgent action to realize justice for the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery in Timor-Leste during WWII"
handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan East Timor Coalition
February 22, 2013
On February 22, the Japan East Timor Coalition handed over its petition on the so-called "comfort women" issue in Timor-Leste to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in Tokyo. The petition is supported by 44 Japanese organizations, 367 individuals in Japan, 14
overseas organizations and 25 individuals abroad. The total number of supporters was 450, a slightly higher than that of last year. We
thank those supporters.
(We received emails of support even after the deadline. We therefore add 4 Japanese organizations and 20 individuals and 1 overseas
organization. The total number thus becomes 475.)
The hand over of a petition on the military sexual slavery in war-time East Timor is now an annual event, and it usually takes place
around February 20, the day of the Japanese invasion of the Timor island in 1942.
This year's petition picked up the report that the representative of Timor-Leste at the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN
Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Japan last November referred to "the victims of atrocities committed in the
past" and it encouraged Japan to promote dialogue with the international community for mutual understanding which may entail "a direct
and genuine communication with the survivors of the past atrocities."
During the conversation with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 22, when we handed the petition to them, we
requested that Japan take some kind of action as a response to this Timor-Leste's statement. But the response of the officials was
passive. It can be summarized as the following:
The above-mentioned statement of Timor-Leste only generally referred to victims and not particularly to victims in Timor-Leste. We
don't judge whether "the victims" mentioned in the statement in a general way included victims in Timor-Leste in particular. We don't
know whether the government of Timor-Leste wants to raise this issue seriously. If they are serious, they would raise this issue in
bilateral relations. As we understand, the government of Timor-Leste does not have a policy to raise this issue (with Japan).
Regarding the facts of the "comfort stations" in war-time East Timor, the government of Japan could not find that there were
violations or damages caused by them, although it did find some reference to the existence of comfort women in Timor-Leste when it
did its best in researching the history (before 1993).
The governments of Timor-Leste and Japan both agree to the "forward-looking policy".
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Taur Matan Ruak
(Jose Maria de Vasconcelos)
President since 20 May 2012
Fernando "Lasama" de Araujo
Deputy Prime Minister since 8 August 2012