The Presidential and Parliamentary elections held in 2007 were widely considered free and fair despite sporadic violence. The security situation is improving; however, the interim law enforcement support provided by UNMIT Police and the security assistance provided by the International Stabilization Force (ISF) remain necessary.
Timor-Leste is slowly recovering from the security and humanitarian crisis caused by the unrest during April and May 2006. However, the absence of durable solutions for thousands of internally displaced people living in camps, and the presence of a small but well-armed group of ex-military and police operating in the countryside are sources of instability. Poverty, high unemployment, especially among youth, and inadequate access to basic services are priority issues requiring concerted action by both the Government and the international community. State and civil society institutions are still faced with serious capacity problems.
Timor-Leste has submitted its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and is finalizing its report under CEDAW.
In November 2006, OHCHR, UNDP and the Office of the Provedor (Ombudsman) signed a three-year technical cooperation project, entitled “Human Rights Capacity Building of the Provedoria for Human Rights and Justice,” to which OHCHR is providing substantive and financial assistance. As a result of the work already undertaken, the Provedoria is receiving and investigating complaints and has also engaged in advocacy at the national level. Following the establishment of a fully representative Advisory Council, the Provedoria was admitted, on 25 September 2007, to full membership of the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions.
The capacity of local NGOs to monitor and promote human rights has been strengthened, not only through training initiatives, but also with the creation of a human rights database that ensures consistency among local NGOs in addressing cases.
A cooperative relationship has been established with the Timorese armed forces: for the first time, human rights training was conducted for its military personnel, and human rights issues have been discussed with the senior command.
Following the unrest of April and May 2006, and pursuant to a request from the then Timorese Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary-General mandated the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish the Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste (COI). In keeping with the COI’s request to strengthen the domestic judicial system for the implementation of its recommendations, OHCHR provided funding in 2007 for the recruitment of an international prosecutor to assist the Office of the Prosecutor-General in implementing those recommendations. Despite serious resource constraints and political tension, the domestic judicial system has made progress in implementing the COI’s recommendations. UNMIT and OHCHR advised against the adoption of wide-ranging amnesty legislation that would have undermined criminal accountability and fostered impunity. The law was declared unconstitutional by the Timor-Leste Appeals Court, following a request for review of constitutionality by the President.
OHCHR, through the Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section of UNMIT, will implement a new two-year technical cooperation programme with the Government with the aim of strengthening national human rights protection systems. The project will support the integration of human rights into the curricula of the police and the army, internal accountability systems, progress towards accountability for serious violations of human rights committed during the crises of 1999 and 2006 (through the continued implementation of the recommendations of the COI report), increased access to and public awareness of existing protection and redress mechanisms, the introduction of human rights education in primary and pre-secondary schools, and the development of human rights education training for school teachers.
In order to strengthen human rights protection mechanisms, the technical cooperation programme with the Office of the Provedor will continue. OHCHR will continue to strengthen the advocacy and monitoring capacity of NGOs, including the capacity of women’s NGOs to monitor judicial processes related to cases of domestic violence. Capacity building for the Parliament will help ensure that new laws comply with international human rights standards and promote transitional justice. OHCHR will advocate for a strong legal framework to address the issue of gender-based violence.
OHCHR will provide the necessary expertise in transitional justice to ensure progress towards accountability, especially for serious violations of human rights committed in 1999 and during the crisis of April-May 2006.
The Office will provide guidance to the UN Country Team in identifying areas for human rights programming and ensuring that the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and UNDAF apply a human rightsbased approach. OHCHR will provide assistance and expertise to ensure greater government and civil society engagement and cooperation with the UN treaty bodies, special procedure mechanisms and the Human Rights Council, including in preparing reports and shadow reports, and following up on recommendations and concluding observations.