President of the Republic Interferes with Justice in Timor-Leste
(Declaração Politica: 13 de Novembro 2007)
Statement to National Parliament
By Arsenio Bano, Member of Parliament, FRETILIN
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Today I take this opportunity to make a statement to bring to this place my big concern with the interference by the President of the Republic in the Timor-Leste Justice system.
This interference is demonstrable in the statements made by the ISF commander Brigadier J.M.B. Hutcheson on 31 October 2007 in response to the letter sent by the Judge to the ISF regarding the arrest warrant for Alfredo Reinado.
The response of the ISF commander to the judge stating that the ISF cannot arrest Alfredo Reinado pursuant to the arrest warrant issued by the court because the President of the Republic ordered that the arrest warrant not be enforced.
This conduct demonstrates clearly that the Rule of Law has almost been lost in Timor-Leste. The interference by the President of the Republic with the functioning of another constitutional state institution like the Courts is an indication for us all that justice is no longer functioning in accordance with the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste but is functioning pursuant to the wishes of President Ramos-Horta.
Article 118 of the Constitution of Timor-Leste states that:
The Courts are our constitutional state institution which have the powers to administer justice in the name of the people;
In the exercise of its functions, the courts are entitled to the assistance of the other constitutional state institutions like the Parliament, the Government and the President;
The decisions of the courts are to be compulsorily obeyed and prevail over the decisions of all other constitutional state institutions.
If the statements of the ISF commander are true, this shows that our President of the Republic has interfered with justice in such a way that breaches article 118 of our Constitution as stated above. This conduct by the President of the Republic reminds us of the conduct of Suharto during the time Indonesia ruled our country and law and order in our country was administered in accordance with Suharto’s wishes.
This interference has also aroused many doubts regarding the functioning of our justice system, and is a negative precedent for justice in the future, because on one hand we can see that F-FDTL members are confronting justice in the Dili Courts but on the other hand the President of the Republic does not want some people to account for their actions pursuant to law and order and justice in Timor-Leste.
Lastly, I am also concerned with the role of the international community, the UN presence, including our Australian neighbors who speaks a lot about democracy, law and order and the rule of law, but their Security Forces, who are in Timor-Leste, are not performing their role in accordance with the law, or promoting a respect for rule of law in Timor-Leste. Instead they act in accordance with one person’s wishes as stated by the Commander of the ISF last week in relation to Alfredo Reinado’s case.
If this National Parliament as the representative of the People wants to see our country functioning with law and order, in accordance with the rule of law and the Constitution of the RDTL, this National Parliament has to speak up forcefully so as not to allow justice to be administered in accordance with one person’s wishes.
I have also made a copy of the dispatch from the Court written by Judge Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa on the 9th of November 2007 published on the internet, on this issue, and I ask that the Chair request the Secretariat of the National Parliament to make photocopies for all Members of this Parliament.