UNMIT Launches Human Rights report on Timor-Leste

5 Jul 2008

UNMIT Launches Human Rights report on Timor-Leste

Dili: 8 November, 2007 - A human rights report released today found that the citizens of Timor-Leste enjoy a range of human rights including freedom of speech, freedom to criticise the government, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. However, in a number of areas, challenges remain to guaranteeing the fulfilment of human rights.

The UNMIT report, drafted by the mission's Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section, covers the period August 2006 to August 2007. It presents an overview of the key human rights developments during the period, and provides a list of recommendations.

The report notes that since the violence of last year, the security situation has largely been brought under control, although occasional spikes of violence still occur as was the case in August 2007. It states that this year's presidential and parliamentary elections were largely held in an environment free from violence and intimidation where all sides were able to voice their opinions. The expansion of the activities of the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ), the swearing in of several national judges, prosecutors and public defenders, as well as the recent progress by the government on submission of treaty reports are also positive steps forward.

In spite of these significant developments, important human rights challenges remain. The high number of internally displaced persons who still live in makeshift camps and the lack of progress towards durable solutions are of concern. Gender-based violence is common and a draft domestic violence law has been pending for several years.

Effective access to justice is constrained as the judicial system remains weak, particularly in the districts. A considerable backlog of pending cases hampers the work of the courts, impacting negatively on the right of victims to legal remedy. Legal mechanisms to address property disputes, such as a law on land and property rights, which is also a serious obstacle to resolving internal displacement, do not yet exist.

The Report also makes several recommendations designed to further strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in Timor-Leste.

"Timor-Leste still faces considerable challenges. However, the Timorese leadership's stated commitment to human rights will help create an environment from which all Timorese can benefit" said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Mr Atul Khare.

"UNMIT stands ready to support the Government and the people of Timor-Leste in this process," he concluded.

For a full version of the report please visit www.unmit.org

For more information please call UNMIT Spokesperson Allison Cooper on +670 723 0453