Government forced labor clean-up day

quarta-feira, 23 de Dezembro de 2009


Yet again the Gusmao de facto government has shown its willingness to
act against the constitution. This week an “executive decree” was
issued prohibiting all circulation by citizens between 0700 hours
until 1200 hours today (23.12.2009) and compelling them to
participate in a general clean up.

The right of every citizen to freedom of circulation or movement is
constitutionally guaranteed in article 44 of the Constitution. That
cannot be curtailed in any way by a mere government decree. Even
legislation by the parliament would contravene the constitution and
be struck down on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

The use of the Timor-Leste National Police to compel citizens to
alight from their vehicles and motorcycles and come out of their
homes, under threat of physical police enforcement is illegal. The
use of force has been widely reported throughout Dili with the police
assaulting citizens refusing to follow these illegal orders given by

It is unfortunate that the national police are being used in this
fashion to cover up the shortcomings of the de facto Gusmao
government in utilizing the very large and wasteful budget they have
to provide basic services such as sanitation. Resorting to forcing
persons to undertake unpaid/involuntary (in essence forced) labour
also breaches the human rights of citizens.

We do not condemn the police officers purely following orders of
their superiors, but the PNTL Commander General has been notified
that the use of the police in this fashion is improper and illegal.
FRETILIN intends to hold those in the PNTL command giving orders in
this matter legally responsible.

FRETILIN intends to file a petition to the Constitutional court
regarding this further unconstitutional act of governance, as well as
seek that the Prosecutor General of the Republic investigate all
physical action taking by the national police resulting in the
unlawful deprivation of the liberty of persons or that resulting in
assault to their persons or property.

The de facto government will undoubtedly publicize widely that the
cleanup was successful because of the extensive participation of
citizens. It is very clear that this has occurred mainly if not only
because of the impending threat of police action for refusal to
participate. This is inappropriate in our society, which we aspire to
be one based on the rule of law and democracy.

This has nothing to do with public health or sanitation as purported
by the government, but the use of excessive power to divert attention
form their own failings. In a city of so many unemployed it would be
a much more positive and constructive approach to take to pay members
of the community from the state budget to undertake regularly
cleaning and road maintenance. The latter is a proven effective way
of public transfers being made to those without employment or other
forms of household income.

Similarly, there is nothing wrong with engendering a spirit of
civic/community voluntary participation. Those citizens wishing to so
participate naturally are free to participate and we do not object.
We do however object to the curtailment of constitutional rights of
others in the process.


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