Amnesty International Report 2016/17 - The State of the World's Human Rights - Timor-Leste

Victims of serious human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation (1975-1999) continued to demand justice and reparations. Security forces were accused of unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests, and arbitrarily restricting the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.

Background

In August, hundreds of civil society activists gathered in the capital, Dili, at a parallel conference to an ASEAN summit to discuss human rights and other regional issues. In November, Timor-Leste’s human rights record was examined under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

Impunity

A working group was established by the Prime Minister in May to advise the government on implementation of the recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), issued in 2005. Many recommendations related to impunity had not been implemented by the end of 2016. The expulsion of non-Timorese judges in 2014 continued to hamper the trials of individuals indicted for serious crimes.

Police and security forces

Concerns remained about allegations of unnecessary or excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment by security forces, and a lack of accountability. In August a member of the Border Control Unit shot and killed a man with mental illness in Suai. In the same month a police officer hit a journalist in Dili. By the end of the year, no one had been held to account for the torture and other ill-treatment of dozens of individuals detained during joint security operations in Baucau district in 2015. These were launched in response to attacks allegedly carried out by Mauk Moruk (Paulino Gama) and his banned Maubere Revolutionary Council against police in Laga and Baguia subdistricts.1 

Freedom of expression

In January, security forces ordered an activist from the NGO Yayasan HAK to remove his T-shirt saying “Free West Papua”. They also threatened to arrest other human rights activists for their role in organizing a peaceful protest during a visit by the Indonesian President and signing a joint statement calling for accountability for crimes against humanity during the Indonesian occupation.2

On 11 April, two journalists were charged in relation to a defamation lawsuit.

Violence against women and girls

Gender-based violence remained a significant issue. A survey revealed that three in five women between the ages of 15 and 49, who had ever been in a relationship, had suffered sexual or other physical violence by a husband or male partner in their lifetime. In April, Timor-Leste became the third southeast Asian state to adopt a National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security for 2016-2020.

  1. Timor-Leste: Still no justice – submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, November 2016 (ASA 57/4531/2016)
  2. Timor-Leste: Harassed for organizing peaceful rally (ASA 57/3334/2016)