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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE CONSIDERS REPORT OF TIMOR-LESTE

23 November 2017

The Committee against Torture this afternoon completed its consideration of the initial report of Timor-Leste on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Introducing the report, Sebastiao Dias Ximenes, Vice-Minister of Justice of Timor-Leste, noted that the Government had adopted a range of legal instruments to contribute to the significant improvement of the protection of people’s rights, namely effective measures to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment. Timor-Leste’s laws guaranteed that everyone received access to legal aid and a lawyer, to communicating or having contact with their family, and to the provision of medical services. They also prohibited the extradition and return of a person to a country where there was a risk of danger or torture. Timor-Leste’s legislation treated torture as a serious crime with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The national police adhered to the concept of the rule of law, and independent institutions had been established to monitor all forms of violence in prisons and other places of detention. In order to provide support to the most vulnerable victims of past human rights violations, the Government had inaugurated the Centro Nacional Chega! in July 2017 whose mission was to promote the implementation of recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts commended the process of the preparation of the State party’s report and the extensive public consultations. However, they observed that the statement made by the delegation that there had been no cases of torture recorded since the independence of Timor-Leste reflected a serious misunderstanding of the State party’s obligations under the Convention. Past cases of torture and disappearance had to be addressed, in particular the abduction of some 4,500 children to Indonesia. Experts also highlighted recent allegations of torture and ill-treatment, namely the security operation in the Lalulai village in Bacau district. Other issues raised included the lack of trust in the police and military, autonomous bodies to oversee the police and military, fundamental legal safeguards, detention conditions, alternative measures to detention, lack of separate definitions for torture and ill-treatment, and training programmes on the prevention and early identification of torture. More information was requested on the functioning of the National Human Rights Institution, interference in the judicial branch, hybrid justice mechanisms, redress to victims of torture, violence against women, abortion, corporal punishment, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, respect of non-refoulement, forced returns of the Rohingya, violations of the rights of persons with mental disabilities, and the juvenile justice system.

In concluding remarks, Marciano Octavio Garcia Da Silva, Permanent Representative of Timor-Leste to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the delegation had travelled to Geneva to answer tough questions. Timor-Leste had ratified seven core United Nations instruments, and he expressed hope that his country would pass all the examinations.

Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, reminded of the fact that a very high percentage of the Timorese population had experienced some form of torture. It would take a long time to address all the challenges. Mr. Modvig thanked the delegation for being very forthcoming in recognizing those challenges.

The delegation of Timor-Leste included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the National Police, and the Permanent Mission of Timor-Leste to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 24 November, at 3 p.m. to finish its consideration of the second periodic report of Rwanda (CAT/C/RWA/2).

Report

The initial report of Timor-Leste can be read here: CAT/C/TLS/1.

Presentation of the Report

SEBASTIAO DIAS XIMENES, Vice-Minister of Justice of Timor-Leste, noted that since the restoration of independence in May 2002, Timor-Leste had ratified most of the human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Government had adopted a range of legal instruments to contribute to the significant improvement of the protection of people’s rights, namely effective measures to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment. The country’s laws respected the international legal framework with respect to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, which were also prohibited in emergency situations. Timor-Leste’s laws guaranteed that everyone received access to legal aid and a lawyer, to communicating or having contact with their family, and to the provision of medical services. They also prohibited the extradition and return of a person to a country where there was a risk of danger or torture. Timor-Leste’s legislation criminalized torture as set out in article 167 of the Penal Code. Torture was considered as a serious crime with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The national police adhered to the concept of the rule of law which was based on a system of the rule of law, supremacy of law, equality before the law, human rights and due process.

Since the ratification of the Convention, the Public Prosecutor had not registered any cases of torture. In addition, Timor-Leste had not had any cases of extradition. The extradition mechanisms required a bilateral extradition agreement between the countries whilst investigations were being carried out against suspected perpetrators of torture by the Public Prosecution Service. The country currently had no extradition treaties with other States that had ratified the Convention for cases of torture. However, it did have its own Law on International Penal Judicial Cooperation. Timor-Leste guaranteed that alleged offenders or perpetrators of torture were given fair treatment, including when there were official proceedings. The Ministry of Justice provided training to judicial officers, magistrates and public defenders on issues relating to torture and ill-treatment, especially with respect to vulnerable groups, such as children, women, the poor and disabled.

National laws, regulations and instructions that governed the treatment of persons who had been deprived of their liberty were the Constitution, the Penal Code and internal prison regulations. Independent institutions had been established to monitor all forms of violence in prisons and other places of detention. During the investigative process, legal counsel to the defendant had to be present during the entire process, and there was an immediate access to medical examination and forensic expertise. Any individual who alleged being subjected to torture and mistreatment had the right to complain and to receive protection, in line with Timor-Leste’s Criminal Procedure Code. Complainants and witnesses were protected by the Law on Witness Protection. Procedures for the provision of compensation for victims were outlined in the Law against Domestic Violence, the Immigration law, and the Ministry of Social Solidarity’s policies on services for vulnerable people through public funds transfer. The Government had also established legal procedure to ensure that statements made as the result of torture would not be used in any proceedings. To improve prison conditions, the Ministry of Justice had set up a Prison Support Service Network, a monitoring network comprised of representatives from civil society organizations, the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice, and Government representatives. In order to reduce violence in prisons, the Government had set up closed circuit television cameras to monitor the movement of prisoners and prison guards.

The Government had adopted the second National Action Plan (2017-2021) to combat gender-based violence, and a National Action Plan on Children’s Rights (2016-2020) which addressed corporal punishment. In order to provide support to the most vulnerable victims of past human rights violations, the Government had inaugurated the Centro Nacional Chega! in July 2017 whose mission was to promote the implementation of recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste. The Government publicly condemned violence against members of the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community, and it was working to amend the national police’s Organic Law and Disciplinary Regulation aimed at strengthening actions in cases of unlawful police interventions.

Questions by Country Co-Rapporteurs

FELICE GAER, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Timor-Leste, commended the process of the preparation of the State party report and extensive public consultations. Turning to past cases of torture and disappearance, Ms. Gaer observed that the statement made by the delegation that there had been no cases of torture recorded since independence reflected a serious misunderstanding of the State party’s obligations under the Convention. The Committee had received information about a great many living survivors of torture perpetrated during Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste, and during the violence immediately following the independence referendum in 1999. Offences like enforced disappearances constituted a continuing violation of the Convention, Ms. Gaer noted.

According to Timor-Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, about 18,600 people had been killed or disappeared between the period of April 1974 and October 1999. The Commission had documented more than 11,000 allegations of torture and more than 1,000 allegations of sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery, whereas as many as 4,500 children might have been abducted and taken to Indonesia. Ms. Gaer voiced concern about the failure of the Government to adopt a national reparations programme or to create a public memory institute. The Government should establish a database and collect disaggregated data on disappearances and disseminate the report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. The Government should also spare no effort to secure the extradition of at least some of the most important alleged perpetrators from Indonesia and engage in discussion with the Government of Indonesia to reach an extradition agreement. There was also concern that the Government of Timor-Leste had not made sufficient efforts to strengthen the capacities of the judiciary to prosecute serious crimes.

Could the delegation provide data on follow-up actions taken with respect to the 311 completed investigations and approximately 60 uncompleted investigations handed over by the United Nations Serious Crimes Investigation Team to the Prosecutor-General at the end of 2012? How many of those investigations had led to prosecutions, and how many prosecutions had resulted in convictions and for what sentences? Was the State party considering re-engaging international judges in Timor-Leste so that the Special Panels for Serious Crimes could be convened again? What other steps was the State party taking to ensure that perpetrators of torture, disappearance and other crimes were prosecuted? Was it correct that the Special Panels for Serious Crimes had issued more than 300 indictments related to people believed to be living in Indonesia?

What measures had the State party taken to seek judicial assistance with respect to indictments for torture, disappearance, sexual violence or other related offences filed in connection with Special Panels for Serious Crimes against persons believed to reside in Indonesia? Had the State party ever requested Indonesia’s cooperation in extraditing persons for whom the Special Panels for Serious Crimes had issued warrants? What would be the role of the public memory institute Centro Nacional Chega! in ensuring that all victims of torture and ill-treatment committed during the occupation and conflict period obtained redress? What measures was the Government taking to establish a commission to search for the disappeared and to identify disappeared children in Indonesia and reunite them with their families?

Turning to recent allegations of torture and ill-treatment, Ms. Gaer drew attention to dozens of reports of individuals in the Lalulai village in Bacau district suspected of supporting the rebel KRM group who had been arbitrarily arrested and tortured by the police to compel them to divulge information about the whereabouts of members of the group in 2014 and 2015. Ms. Gaer pointed out to the September 2017 case in Oecussi Special Administrative Region in which the police had publicly beaten, kicked and whipped a group of young men for suspected involvement in an illegal Martial Arts Group, which had been captured on video. Non-governmental organizations alleged that they had received many additional complaints of that kind involving the police. It seemed that very few, if any, of those alleged assaults had led to penalties being imposed. It appeared that the State party’s position was that the police and military were capable of addressing allegations of torture and ill-treatment on their own and that the involvement of prosecutorial authorities was not really necessary. That position was not consistent with Timor-Leste’s obligations under the Convention. What was the number of complaints of maltreatment received since 2014, and the number of investigations into alleged torture and ill-treatment that had been carried out since 2014? Had the State party carried out measures to ensure that impartial investigations were carried out into allegations of torture and ill-treatment? Had the Police Forensic and Criminal Investigations Unit carried out any investigations into torture and ill-treatment? What was the size of the unit and how powerful was it? Did it have the power to carry out investigations on its own initiative?

With respect to concerns that the police were not considered effective by the population, Ms. Gaer reminded that well-regarded studies had revealed that members of the police were viewed as engaging in excessive force, untrustworthy and as reinforcing a cycle of violence and impunity. Statements by public figures did not send a message that the rule of law dominated over the rule of force. What measures was the State party taking to address the perception that the police and military did not take seriously the obligation to hold personnel who engaged in ill-treatment or torture accountable? Was the Government considering creating autonomous bodies to oversee the police and military? Were civilian prosecutors and courts empowered to try those military personnel accused of committing ill-treatment or torture?

As for fundamental legal safeguards, what steps was the State party taking to ensure that all police stations had a standard operating procedure on file and to raise awareness about its requirements with the police and public? There was a concern that the rule requiring prompt presentation of all persons deprived of liberty to a judge was frequently not respected in practice, particularly outside of the capital. What steps had been taken to ensure that all of the country’s 13 municipalities had a public defender’s office? What measures was the State party taking to promulgate a uniform registry for use in all police stations? Was the State party taking measures to create a central registry in which data from all police stations could be entered? What other steps was the State party taking to monitor the conduct of police and ensure that they respected safeguards in practice? Who employed the doctors that carried out medical exams?

On allegations of ill-treatment and safeguard issues in prisons, had any prison officials been prosecuted or disciplined for the standard practice of isolation and regular beatings of new prisoners? Had the installation of closed circuit television cameras had an impact on that practice? What were the expected capacities and completion dates for new prison facilities? Would the State party continued to house pre-trial detainees with convicted persons after the new prisons had been constructed? When would overcrowding in Bacora and Gleno prisons be eliminated? Did laws provide for alternative measures to detention? Was there a formal complaints procedure for prisoners?

The Penal Code did not provide separate definitions for torture and ill-treatment. Was the State party taking any measures to amend the definition of torture in its national law to bring it into total conformity with the Convention? Was it correct that torture and ill-treatment were subject to a statute of limitations unless it took the form of crimes against humanity or war crimes? Did the State party plan to invite the Special Rapporteur on torture?

SAPANA PRADHAN-MALLA, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Timor-Leste, raised the issue of training and education with respect to prevention and prosecution of torture. Training programmes appeared to be ad hoc in nature, not integrated in official curricula, and not based on standardized training materials. Was there a specific curriculum on identifying torture and collecting evidence of torture provided to the police? Was such training extended to other institutions and professionals of the judiciary, military personnel, and prison officials?

Turning to the National Human Rights Institution, Ms. Pradhan-Malla inquired whether any of its recommendations had been implemented, and about concerns about the insufficient budget and lack of investigators and legal advisers. Was the State party considering expanding the powers of the institution to allow it to submit complaints of torture and ill-treatment to the authorities? Did the institution and non-governmental organizations have access to places of detention and prisons?

What was the State party doing to prevent interference in the judicial branch? Turning to detention conditions, Ms. Pradhan-Malla asked about the separation of juvenile detainees from adult ones, as well as about separate prisons for women. She reminded that solitary confinement was allowed only as a measure of last resort.

As for the provision of redress to victims of torture, did the State party’s law provide for a victim of torture to be entitled to redress even if the perpetrator had not been criminally prosecuted and convicted? Would legislative amendments take into consideration procedural and substantive requirements? What measures was the State party taking to ensure that victims of torture were entitled to access rehabilitation services?

On violence against women, what was being done to address the low reporting rate, general lack of awareness of the criminal nature of domestic violence and persistent tolerance of domestic violence, excessive use of gender biased mediation, and limited medical, psychological and legal assistance for survivors? What was the update on the recommendation to the State party to review its Penal Code in relation to abortion and to recognize certain exceptions to illegal abortion?

Ms. Pradhan-Malla reminded that there was still no specific provision criminalizing incest and marital rape, adding that there was failure to prevent and provide redress for all crimes against women and girls.

Corporal punishment was prevalent in Timor-Leste. Could the State party provide any information on the number of complaints regarding corporal punishment? How would the State party ensure that the Ministry of Education’s guidelines on teacher discipline were enforced?

What measures was the State party taking to train law enforcement and other public officials about the need to prevent violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity?

With respect to non-refoulement, non-governmental organizations reported many instances of forced returns of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar. Were there any plans to amend the Immigration and Asylum Act that still retained the 72-hour limit for filing asylum applications? What actions was the Government taking to absolutely prohibit refoulement in line with the Convention?

Turning to persons with mental disabilities, Ms. Pradhan-Malla drew attention to the cases of persons with mental disabilities being restrained by force by family or community members. When was the Government planning to extend services to those persons and were there any plans to adopt the mental health strategy?

Questions by Committee Experts

When would Timor-Leste complete the ratification process of the Optional Protocol to the Convention? What was the percentage of concluded cases of disciplinary or judicial measures against police officers?

Torture and ill-treatment constituted most of the past human rights violations in Timor-Leste. The process of rehabilitation of victims appeared to be very slow and the hybrid justice mechanisms had not really performed well. Would the hybrid justice mechanisms be re-installed, notably following the recent agreement with Portugal? What were up-to-date figures on enforced disappearances?

Turning to prison overcrowding, Experts inquired about the exact prison population and the number of those in preventive detention. Did the Government plan to take alternative measures of detention in order to reduce prison overcrowding?

As for the normative aspect of torture, Experts inquired about the use of torture during state of emergency periods and about compensation to victims of torture.

What was the status of the draft Juvenile Justice Act? There were concerns that the draft law did not provide for the use of non-custodial measures.

Replies by the Delegation

SEBASTIAO DIAS XIMENES, Vice-Minister of Justice of Timor-Leste, explained that the Centro Nacional Chega! had an important mission to advocate the acceleration of the implementation of recommendations with respect to the past violations of human rights. It had recommended the redrafting of the Law on Victims’ Reparations and establishing a memorial institution. Mr. Ximenes recognized that the Government was slow in implementing the recommendations because they were sensitive and complex. Parliament would hold relevant debates in order to find a prudent solution that would not force victims to relive their pain and that would not cause conflict among Timorese citizens.

In terms of enforced disappearances, the Government of Timor-Leste was actively participating in meetings with senior officials of Indonesia, and it planned to set up a Commission for Enforced Disappearances. Efforts had been made to organize meetings every year to identify and search for the children who had been abducted to Indonesia between 1975 and 1999, and to allow them to visit their families in Timor-Leste.

With respect to measures to prevent the use of corporal punishment in the educational settings, the Ministry of Education had adopted a “zero tolerance” policy with extensive implementation across the country. Corporal punishment in school settings was forbidden.

On the Rohingya refugees, they had not requested asylum in Timor-Leste; their final destination was Australia. The Government had assisted the Rohingya and there were still some of their family members remaining in Timor-Leste. The Government did not plan to change provisions of the Immigration Law with respect to deadlines for the filing of asylum claims. According to the Immigration Law, that deadline was set within 72 hours of the entry in the country. Applicants could submit asylum claims either in oral or written form.

As for the Experts’ questions about the possibility for Timor-Leste to amend its Penal Code regarding the separation of crimes of torture and ill-treatment, Mr. Ximenes recognized that even though the Penal Code did not have separate definitions, it clearly defined them. In practice, it was judges who decided which definition applied.

On the juvenile justice system, in order to ensure the rights of children, youth and adolescents who committed offences or were in conflict with the law, the Ministry of Justice was going to prepare and submit to the Council of Ministers a new draft law on punitive educational measures for children between the ages of 12 and 16, and a new draft law on the special regime for youth and adolescents between the ages of 16 and 21. The Government was making all efforts to establish a juvenile centre to respond to the needs of children in conflict with the law.

The Ministry of Justice would put the ratification of the Optional Protocol on its agenda and it would propose that the Council of Ministers ratify it. It would also propose that an invitation be extended to the Special Rapporteur on torture.

So far, Timor-Leste had only four courts in four municipalities – Dili, Suai, Baucau and Oecusse. Each jurisdiction had public defender offices to provide free legal services. In order to ensure access to justice in remote areas, the Ministry of Justice had created a mobile tribunal that undertook monthly visits to distant municipalities. The Ministry of Justice also planned to open a new public defender office in two more municipalities by 2020 – Ermera and Maliana.

With respect to solitary confinement, Mr. Ximenes explained that prisons had their own statutes and executive regimes. Prisons had “security cells” that aimed at guaranteeing the security of new inmates before putting them together with other prisoners. The duration of that special measure amounted to three to four days. The conditions in security cells were the same as in other cells.

The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health regularly visited prisons to check their conditions and to identify pressing needs. The Government was also planning to establish more centres for mental rehabilitation and to allocate a bigger budget for it.

The maximum detention period was 72 hours. Normally, detainees would be held for 12 hours then released to go home and be told to wait for a written notification from the Public Prosecution Service about the next stage of the process. Only 190 out of 690 prisoners at the Becora prison were held in pre-trial detention.

As for expulsion under the Immigration Law, there were two types of decisions. First, there was an administrative decision that was adopted by the member of the Government responsible for migration. Second, there was a judicial decision made by the competent court.

Turning to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, Mr. Ximenes noted that the Government did not discriminate against them, adding that they enjoyed the same rights and opportunities as other citizens.

Abortion could occur in order to save the life of the mother, and it should be performed by certified medical or health professionals, Mr. Ximenes explained.

Turning to questions about police brutality and excessive use of force, the delegation clarified that investigations had been carried out in the Atauro, Oecusse and Maliana cases. Punishments could be prison sentences or disciplinary measures. Police officers wore distinctive uniforms and insignia, in accordance with relevant laws, except intelligence officers. Law enforcement officers received training in human rights. Recently, the Police Criminal Investigation Service had received training from the Chinese National Police on forensics, gender-based violence and domestic violence, as well as investigation, community policing and leadership training from the New Zealand and Australian police. The police had established an incident management system, which recorded any complaints from the community. In addition, the police liaison officer to the prosecutor had been established and extended to regional courts.

With respect to the security operation in the Lalulai village in Bacau district, the operation had turned violent because the leader of the KRM group had not cooperated. Several members of the police force had been shot and injured by the KMR group.

Timor-Leste had never stopped investigating the abduction of children to Indonesia. Some of them had visited their families in Timor-Leste and the Government welcomed those who wanted to return. Some had decided to remain in Indonesia.

Turning to the issue of migration, the delegation explained that whoever arrived in Timor-Leste could obtain a visa at points of entry. Being close to Australia, which was the main destination of migrants, many people got stranded in Timor-Leste. The Government assisted them with the provision of basic services. But Timor-Leste was not their final destination.

Questions by Country Co-Rapporteurs

FELICE GAER, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Timor-Leste, highlighted the right to redress, acknowledging the sensitive nature of that issue in Timor-Leste. A delay in justice was a denial of justice. Guarantees of non-repetition were made stronger by addressing the issues of the past and by providing accountability for abuses. The whole rehabilitation process for victims of torture was helped by going back through relevant issues. Ms. Gaer expressed hope that Timor-Leste would, therefore, provide full redress to victims.

What follow-up had been undertaken by the Government with respect to the 311 completed investigations and approximately 60 uncompleted investigations handed over by the United Nations Serious Crimes Investigation Team to the Prosecutor-General at the end of 2012? Would the public memory institute Centro Nacional Chega! engage with those issues and would it help individuals pursue justice?

Turning to the disappeared children in Indonesia, Ms. Gaer asked whether the Government was making specific efforts to identify them and reunite them with their families in Timor-Leste? Was there a timetable for the establishment of the commission to search for the disappeared persons?

Had the Rohingya refugees been provided with legal assistance? Had they actually ended up in Australia?

As for the non-separation of the crimes of torture and ill-treatment, did judges have enough clarity to make adequate decisions? Was there a timetable for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention?

The use of solitary confinement for three or four days for new inmates was confirmed as an official State practice. That was an unprecedented practice. Was it really necessary as a judicial and criminal law measure? Had anyone been prosecuted for the abuse of solitary confinement? How independent were the medical doctors performing examinations in prisons?

As for the Oecusse case, what kind of disciplinary measure was handed down to the culprit police officer? Had anyone been charged for not having been wearing police uniforms on duty?

Would new prisons have separate units for women and men? Was there a uniform police registry across the country?

SAPANA PRADHAN-MALLA, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Timor-Leste, asked about the coordination, communication and monitoring mechanism to disseminate the Committee’s concluding remarks to the Government bodies and to ensure that the obligations were implemented.

Was there a specific curriculum on the prevention of and protection from torture in the training organized for public officials? How would the Government strengthen the National Human Rights Institution with adequate human and financial resources?

How would the State party avoid barriers to the implementation of laws on violence against women? Would the Government ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons receive full protection of their rights? Why did the Government not want to change the provisions of the Immigration Law with respect to asylum requests?

Questions by Committee Experts

Experts raised the issue of prison overcrowding, which amounted to more than 200 per cent, which could lead to prison violence and other negative consequences. Did the State party plan to implement non-custodial measures in order to decrease prison overcrowding?

Had the Government changed its mind about the presence of international judges on the Special Panels for Serious Crimes? How many victims of slavery and torture had received reparations in the broad sense?

Replies by the Delegation

SEBASTIAO DIAS XIMENES, Vice-Minister of Justice of Timor-Leste, said that he would communicate the Committee’s suggestion to develop a monitoring mechanism to follow-up on victims’ reparations. With respect to the question about the non-separation of definitions of torture and ill-treatment in the Criminal Code, Mr. Ximenes noted that judges were confident in distinguishing ill-treatment from torture in their rulings.

MARCIANO OCTAVIO GARCIA DA SILVA, Permanent Representative of Timor-Leste to the United Nations Office at Geneva, responding to the question about the children who had been abducted to Indonesia, explained that the Government had reunited some 100 persons with their families. However, some of them had changed their names and religion, which was why it was very challenging to identify all of them.

The Government had not facilitated the Rohingya refugees to go to Australia, but it had provided water and food when they needed it.

Timor-Leste was the only country in South-East Asia which had ratified seven United Nations core documents right after independence. The Government would continue working to accelerate the ratification the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The Government had not forgotten the past crimes, which was why it had the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. It would continue registering complaints of crimes. Timor-Leste and Indonesia had very good relations and it was in the interest of Timor-Leste to foster good relations with Indonesia.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were not discriminated against in Timor-Leste, which was why there was no special mechanism for the regulation of their rights, Mr. Da Silva clarified.

Seven disciplinary penalties were applied to police officers, including suspension, compulsory retirement and dismissal, the delegation explained. In the Oecusse case, the member of the police force had been transferred to another station. There were different types of police uniforms, such as the field and patrol uniforms.

As for the registry of police cases, tickets were issued to victims so that they could follow up on their case. Police officers were based in their communities and community members could approach the police for assistance.

Training was very important for the national police of Timor-Leste and it was included in strategic plans. There was no training on the prevention and identification of torture, only on general violence and gender-based violence

The delegation clarified that “dark cells” were not used in Timor-Leste, rather “security cells” were used to accommodate incoming inmates. Closed circuit television cameras were used in prisons to ensure the security of prisoners and prison staff. There had been no complaints lodged by prisoners so far. The conditions in “security cells” were the same as in other prison cells and inmates had the right to go outside.

Article 25.5 of the Constitution stated that under no circumstances would the state of emergency be used as an excuse to justify the use of torture.

With respect to abortion, in some cases the opinion of three medical doctors was not required to approve abortion.

Parents’ associations could take action with respect to the use of corporal punishment in school settings.

Timor-Leste cooperated with Portugal with respect to providing capacity-building in the judiciary.

Concluding Remarks

MARCIANO OCTAVIO GARCIA DA SILVA, Permanent Representative of Timor-Leste to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the delegation had travelled to Geneva to answer tough questions. Timor-Leste had ratified seven core United Nations instruments, and he expressed hope that his country would pass all the examinations. He thanked Committee Experts for all the helpful questions and comments which would help the Government to improve its system and to face remaining challenges.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, reminded of the fact that a very high percentage of the Timorese population had experienced some form of torture. It would take a long time to address all the challenges. He thanked the delegation for being very forthcoming in recognizing those challenges. Mr. Modvig reminded that the Committee could identify some three issues that the State party was supposed to address in the follow-up report to be submitted within a year.



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CAT/17/29E