[TimorLesteStudies] New report from IPAC - Justice at the Crossroads in Timor-Leste

Bu Wilson buvewilson at gmail.com
Mon Sep 7 13:06:54 AEST 2015


*(Jakarta, 7 September 2015)  *Timor-Leste needs a radical overhaul of its
judicial system, and there may be an opening now to push forward with

*Justice at the Crossroads in Timor-Leste*
the latest report from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict
(IPAC), examines the fall-out from the controversial decision to expel
international judges last year and the possibilities opened up by full
“Timorisation” of the judiciary. The report’s detailed list of
recommendations underscores the amount of work that needs to done,
especially on professional training, access to justice, and meeting basic
fair trial standards. A review of the judiciary now underway, mandated by
parliament at the time of the 2014 expulsions, provides an opportunity to
address what the report terms “the manifold ills of the justice sector”.
Our media release can be found here

The report starts from the premise that ending dependence on international
judicial personnel was an important pre-condition of reform. “Despite
fourteen years of international assistance and in some cases because of it,
Timor-Leste’s justice sector is still in dire straits,” says Sidney Jones,
IPAC director.

The government-run Legal Training Center, responsible for producing judges,
prosecutors and public defenders, needs to be thoroughly reorganised. It
has failed to develop a program that can produce competent legal

Fairness of trials in Timor-Leste remains a serious concern, particularly
in terms of rights of the accused. The prevalence of guilty pleas and the
tendency of judges not to question confessions means there is little
incentive to prepare cases effectively, and defence lawyers frequently call
no witnesses.

The country still has no independent bar association, and the current
system of registering to practice is so restrictive that very few private
lawyers manage to meet the criteria, despite hundreds of law graduates
being produced by local universities.

The country needs more courts, but there is no sign so far that plans for
expansion include a detailed projection of needs based on hard data,
including an analysis that will set standard caseload expectations for each
branch of the justice system.

All this said, there is broad consensus across the government and political
elite that major change is required. Judicial reform is part of a larger
process of transition from an older generation of political leaders to a
younger one. The question is whether both will have the political will to
see the necessary reforms take place.

The report was written by consultants David Cohen and Leigh-Ashley Lipscomb.

For more information email Sidney Jones, IPAC Director, at
sjones at understandingconflict.org, tel: +62 8128568120.
Dr Bu V.E. Wilson
Principal Consultant
Hau Meni & Associates
Postal Address: 5/15 Essex Street, Fremantle, WA 6160, Australia
Courier Address: The Gardens Residence, Bebonuk, Dili, Timor-Leste

T: Timor-Leste +670 7814 1774
T: Australia +61 (0) 407 087 086
E: buvewilson at gmail.com/bu at haumeni.com
S: hau.meni
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