NGO statement to TLDPM

The following is the English translation of the complete joint NGO
submission to the Development Partners Meeting in Dili yesterday. The
Tetum version, as well as English and Tetum texts of the shorter
presentation read by NGO Forum director Dinorah Granadeiro, are
available at
La’o Hamutuk will add to that page as we receive more information, and
we ask anyone with electronic copies of any of the statements not yet
posted there to email them to us. Thank you. ————————-
Timor-Leste NGO Forum Kaikoli Street, Dili-East Timor/742 2821/723

Statement by NGOs
Timor-Leste and Development Partners’ Meeting

7 April 2010

We thank the Ministry of Finance for enabling the voices of NGOs to be
heard at this forum and through civil society participation in
formulating and monitoring the 2010 national priorities. We recognize
that the National Planning process has started to bring a rhythm to
annual planning processes and that indicators are increasingly
achievable, although we worry that focusing exclusively on short-term
sectoral priorities may reduce attention to longer-term, integrated
needs and solutions.

We therefore welcome the Government’s upcoming presentation of the
Strategic Development Plan – bringing a longer term vision to
post-crisis Timor-Leste. However, we are concerned that mistakes made
while formulating first 5 year strategic plan are being repeated: that
government officials are writing the plan internally, without involving
civil society or people in the districts. We urge the government to
make this truly a national plan, with input from a variety of people
and sectors, before it is implemented, and we hope that a timetable and
process for consultation and Parliamentary approval will be made
available together with the draft plan, in the next week or two. We
urge all partners to ensure that public consultation and involvement
reaches beyond Dili and NGOs.

Since no information has been shared with us about the Strategic
Development Plan, we have arranged our comments according to the 2010
national priorities

NP1 Infrastructure
Roads and infrastructure
Infrastructure, especially rural roads, transport, sanitation, social
services, water, energy and communications, are the key to enabling the
rural population of Timor to contribute to nation building and state
building, and we applaud the government’s recognition of and investment
in this.

We hope that the 2009 Pakote Referendum will be used as a learning
experience – that unplanned, off-budget, unspecified, poorly-overseen
small projects cannot substitute for a national infrastructure plan
which identifies priority needs and projects and integrates them into
Timor-Leste’s national requirements. Infrastructure construction should
have the requisite Parliamentary budgetary approval, clear Terms of
Reference, and transparent, open tendering processes. The emphasis
should be creating lasting improvements in people’s lives, not on
temporary repairs or providing cash for start-up local companies.
Subsidies for business development may be appropriate – and could be
done through the Ministry of Economy and Development, Social Solidarity
or State Secretariat for Vocational Training and Employment – but they
should not be confused with the construction of capital infrastructure,
which must be well planned and implemented to serve our people’s
long-term needs.

And when roads have been built and water systems installed, what of
their maintenance? Community involvement takes time but it is the key
to sustainable rural infrastructure. We recommend that the government
invests in building community skills in order to secure community
ownership of their local infrastructure.

Heavy Oil
Energy supply, including electricity, is important to people’s lives.
Although we share the Prime Minister’s dream that people across
Timor-Leste should have lights and other benefits of electricity, we
fear that the heavy oil power plant, even if it works, is an
unreliable, expensive, import-dependent, temporary, polluting way to
reach for that goal. We believe that it can be achieved with an
integrated, decentralized system, and we encourage policy-makers to use
Timor-Leste’s own renewable resources – wind, solar, hydroelectric,
biogas, gas and oil seeps and others – in a planned, coordinated,
long-lasting energy policy which will meet our people’s current and
future needs without destroying the local or global environment or
sending hundreds of millions of dollars to China.

Diarrhea is the leading cause of under 5 child deaths in Timor-Leste,
accounting for 22% of a total of 5000 children that die every year. The
average Timorese child has 2-5 cases of diarrhea each year, causing
suffering and growth stunting. Significant improvements can be
achieved through total sanitation coverage, which would cost $2 million
for each of the next 6 years. Although the government has given top
priority to water supply, rural sanitation remains under funded, with
less than $300,000 allocated for sanitation in 2010. We recommend
investing of $2m per year in sanitation starting in 2011.

NP2 Food Security
Timor Leste is a rural country. About 80% of our population lives in
rural areas and relies on agriculture, forestry and fisheries for their
livelihoods. In the districts, agriculture represents 95% of what is
produced, yet food insecurity is still widespread. Agriculture is the
foundation of Timorese society and economy, and we fully support the
second Nat. Priority of Food Security with a focus on Productivity, and
encourage its expansion to include food sovereignty our people’s
ability to feed themselves.

Reducing dependence on subsidized white rice
Increasing food prices have threatened food security and food, leading
the Government to subsidize rice imports. This approach is not
sustainable and will continue to stifle local food production.
Although white rice has become the preferred staple of many Timorese,
it has very little nutritional value, especially for women and
children. Donors and the GoTL should support diversifying food
production to other staples including corn, cassava and potatoes,
increasing local food production while reducing subsidies over time.

More focus on community and household based agricultural systems
Government and donors should help rural Timorese people overcome food
insecurity and gain greater access to nutrient-dense foods by
supporting longer term low-cost organic agriculture at family and
community levels, including on-farm seed storage, kitchen gardens,
composting and integrated crop management. Market and transportation
links would encourage farmers to produce more food than their families
consume, generating cash income in rural areas. We would like to see
the GoTL take the lead in research and experimentation on weed control
for rural farmers. We applaud the reduced use of subsidized hybrid rice
seeds, which are expensive, create a dependence on external suppliers,
and cannot be replanted.

Having said this, we also recognize that the development of these
agricultural systems needs to be aligned with the communities’ and
GoTL’s capacity to implement, monitor and sustain them.

The use of chemical inputs in agriculture will have long-term negative
consequences for Timor-Leste’s land, environment and farmers. We ask
the GoTL and donors to give more support to organic agriculture
techniques, which is better for the land and environment and produces
more nutritious food.

Food security and nutrition are linked
In achieving food security, we would appreciate more attention to
Nutrition. This is not automatic, and often nutritious food is sold to
obtain money to purchase less healthy food such as noodles, candy and
rice and non food items. Linking nutrition to food security programs
would ensure that children are eating locally-produced, quality food.

Improving livelihoods of (non-rice) farmers by increasing their market
access Timor-Leste should support farmers who grow crops other than
rice in order to increase food sovereignty. Many coffee farmers in
Ermera, for example, feel they have not gotten enough attention, and
wish they could access training on improving quality and enhancing
producing and marketing to improve their livelihoods.

NP3 Human Resource Development
Basic School governance / management and better qualified teachers
NGOs have been fully participating in Government efforts to ensure that
teachers are qualified. We suggest that GoTL work with NGOs and teacher
associations to develop a teachers training framework focusing on
inclusive child-friendly teaching & learning methodology, classroom
management, lesson preparation and student evaluation.

Many teachers struggle to deliver specialize subject matter with
confidence. This lack of confidence also undermines their ability to
teach creatively. We recommend that, in partnership with NGOs, that
specific, subject-based, in-service training be devised and delivered
by the Ministry of Education and qualified partners to teachers in
their own school environment.

Teachers are pivotal and respected, bringing their leadership skills
and education to their students and to their communities. In order to
encourage teachers to feel and act like the professionals that they
are, we propose that additional equipment and transport support be
provided to teachers.

Increased school enrolment and retention
The installation of new suco councils presents an important opportunity
to engage local authorities in increasing enrolment and preventing
school drop-out. We urge the Ministry of Education to work with the
Ministry of State Administration to train local authorities as key
influencers in promoting the importance of education and motivating
parents to keep children in school.

Children in rural areas are raised speaking their local language.
Internationally, educators recognize the importance of having early
education rooted in mother tongue. We recommend that the importance of
learning in mother tongue be recognized in the planned national
language policy, particularly in relation to Early Childhood Education
and early years Primary.

We urge increased use of Tetum in schools, as one means of increasing
children’s understanding and making curriculum content more relevant to
their lives. This will cause more students to pass their classes and
stay in school.

Teachers have little understanding of why children, particularly girls,
drop out of school. We recommend that the management of teachers
address teacher behaviour and teaching methodology to reduce girl’s
dropping out. We recommend that Teachers develop a code of conduct for
their behavior, based on the teachers’ competencies already identified
by the Ministry of Education.

Early Childhood Education is critical for the development of young
children, giving them the head start that all children deserve. Most of
the few pre-primaries in Timor-Leste are concentrated in cities, and
children more remote areas rarely have access. This in turn affects
their retention and repetition of grades when they enter basic schools.
The government should educate parents on the importance of ECE. We urge
GoTL to work with the Church and NGOs to give the best start to these
children by showing their commitment to pre-primary education by
allocating sufficient human and financial resources.

The school feeding programme provides a vital boost to children’s
nutrition. However, the current programme’s main objective is not
nutrition, to encourage parents to send their children to school. We
recommend that the Ministry of Education work with the Ministry of
Health to evaluate and improve the nutritional benefits of this
programme, which should be expanded to pre-primary and nutritionally
vulnerable children with the support of parents.

We further recommend that Ministry of Education work with Ministry of
Agriculture and NGOs to increase the use of locally produced food in

We commend the government’s commitment to literacy, particularly for
adult women as a means to increasing participation. However, we counsel
that criteria for evaluating literacy programs should be carefully
reviewed to ensure that participants are able to develop functional

Young women and men successfully complete labour market orientated
vocational training with employment outcomes. NGOs who provide
non-formal and vocational training for youth struggle to find funding
for their programs. We recommend that SEFOPE and donors involve NGOs in
the vocational training network to enable training in rural areas,
where there are limited service providers.

Since Timor-Leste hopes that an LNG plant and other petroleum
facilities will play a key role in our future economy, we urge
government and donors to increase resources and attention to science,
maths and technical education in Timor-Leste at the secondary and
tertiary levels.

We acknowledge the Government and donor efforts to provide training for
youth in business and industrial development, both in Timor Leste and
abroad. We recommend that the Government provides motivation and
support to those returning to help them to establish small businesses
and industries, creating jobs and promoting economic development.

Boost youth participation and creativeness and build civic and arts
culture Youth Centers and District Youth Councils need better
facilities so that they can develop effective projects based on
guidelines from the State Secretariat of Youth and Sports in areas such
as capacity building, conflict resolution, civic education, sports and
arts, and child protection. Neutrality and gender balance are
particularly important. We recommend that SEFOPE supports Youth Center
projects that generate possibilities for Center self reliance.

Donors should support Government initiatives in involve youth with
participation, creativeness and civil/arts culture, drawing on the
experience of NGOs/civil society organisations who have run such
programs in the community, and involve them in the planning phase. The
Youth Parliament (YP) program should be clearly socialized to NGOs
before it is implemented. The Secretary of State for Youth and Sport
and the Ministry of State Administration should coordinate more
closely, as both are implementing large-scale youth participation
programs: Youth Parliament and the Program Dezenvolvimentu Joventude
(PDJ), through apparently different mechanisms. NP 4 Access to Justice
Justice for past human rights violations We are very concerned about
accountability for past human rights. Again, we welcome the resolution
from Parliament to follow up on the CAVR and CTFCVA reports and hope
that Parliament, Government and the Development Partners to implement
the recommendations in these reports. We urge leaders not to undercut
international efforts – including those from civil society – to bring
those responsible for past human rights violations to justice.

When Timor Leste surrendered to pressure from Indonesia and released
Maternus Bere, it signaled that our government does not support
accountability for past human rights violations. We believe this
undermines Timor Leste’s national sovereignty, constitution and the
rule of law. We urge development partners, especially the United
Nations, to implement the often repeated promise that impunity can
never be tolerated for crimes against humanity.

In relation to the Crisis of 2006 – we urge all parties and leaders not
to interpret or make political comments on trials. Rather, we counsel
that concerns about perceived unfairness of judicial decisions should
be dealt with through legal mechanisms, such as appeals.

In relation to the 11 February trial, we are concerned that although
the court convicted 24 people including some who were involved in the
attack on the President and the Prime Minister, the Court did not
identify who shot the President and at the Prime Minister’s car.
Neither was it proved by the Court who shot at Alfredo Reinado and
Leopoldino. Although this was the largest trial yet held in
Timor-Leste, and was done by Timorese judges, the limited capacity of
the court made it difficult to ascertain all the facts. We urge the
Government to strengthen the court system.

We commend the Government’s commitment to create a Supreme Court as an
important appeal mechanism to make judicial processes fairer, and we
hope it will be implemented soon. We request that the Government
clarifies its plan to establish the Supreme Court.

Separation of powers
Executive interference in the Maternus Bere case is an alarming
violation of separation of powers. Although the Prime Minister was able
to avoid a vote of no confidence, that does not make his action
constitutional. The Tribunal Recurso stated that Bere’s release was
illegal, but we are concerned that they did not take further action. If
similar violations recur, they will further weaken our judicial system,
endanger our democracy, and make our country less stable. We urge all
state organs to respect the separation of powers and the rule of law.

Gender justice
NGOs welcome the general Parliamentary approval of the Domestic
Violence law. This is an important step forward to protect women and
children from domestic violence. The law emerged from a thorough
consultative process and reflects inputs from a range of sectors
including government, service providers and civil society
organizations. We hope that the members of Parliament will recognize
this fact and enact the law in its current form. We urge Parliament to
approve the law this year.

We warmly endorse the initiative of the government to develop a gender
justice policy and its plans to link the policy to RDTL’s obligations
under CEDAW. We urge the government to ensure a genuine effort to
address gender justice issues.

Legal aid law
We salute the government’s draft law on legal aid which has recently
been released for consultation, and the agreement from the Ministry of
Justice to consult widely with civil society. We trust that inputs from
civil society will be taken into account and that the final law will
reflect the needs of those who are vulnerable and most in need of legal

Juvenile Justice and Adoption Laws
NGOs express concern at delays in parliament discussing the Juvenile
Justice and Adoption Laws. We urge the parliament to ensure that
concrete progress is made this year.

Private Lawyers training
We are concerned that although the Private Lawyers Bill (Law No
11/2008) provides for a transition period of four years (from
promulgation of the bill) for private lawyers to have completed
practical training at the Judicial Training Centre, the first private
lawyers course at the Judicial Training Centre has still not started.
NGOs recommend that the Government extend the transition period in the
Private Lawyers.

Draft laws in Tetum and Portuguese
When draft laws are only available in Portuguese, civil society,
Parliamentarians and others have difficulty analyzing and commenting on
them. NGOs urge government and development partners to ensure that all
draft Parliamentary and decree-laws are available in a timely manner in
both Tetum and Portuguese so that more people can participate.

As a key justice institution, we urge that the police have access to
more training in national and international law, including in
understanding their legal mandate.

Law of Association and Foundation (5/2005)
NGOs are meant to operate under this law, but fewer than 50 NGOs,
international and national have succeeded in registering. Most local
NGOs are unable to meet its criteria, making the law unusable. We
strongly recommend that this decree law be reviewed in light of the
operating environment and the nature of rurally based NGOs in

Presence of legal actors in the districts
Increasing human resources in the justice sector must continue to be a
priority, especially in the districts where access to justice is
limited by the few judicial actors. Private legal aid lawyers continue
to fill in for absent public defenders and prosecutors, and a lack of
official interpreters for regional languages reduces the fairness of
trials. We recommend that district human resource constraints are
prioritised for action in 2011.

NP5 Delivery of Social Services
We congratulate Ministry of Health and MSS on the content and ambitions
included in NP5. We particularly commend the innovation of the joint
Ministry of Health and partner task force to support district health
services to achieve National Priority commitments.

We commend the Government’s commitment to roads and the MoH’s
continuing commitment to SISCa and to increasing rural access to health
services. Limited access is the significant obstacle to reducing
maternal and infant mortality and improving maternal and child

However, data collection and quality of data are weak, and local
authorities and community health volunteers do not yet coordinate and
share data successfully. We recommend that MoH continues to improve
data collection processes and urge the development of health service
relationships with local leaders to strengthen support to and
management of family health promoters (PSF).

More local health personnel are needed to provide quality service.
Further, rural health staff members are often away for training and are
unable to attend SISCa. This places a heavy burden on the Community
Health Volunteers who are under compensated and undertrained for the
services that they are expected to provide. We recommend that MoH
develop a national health workforce policy that anticipates the needs
of a growing population and changing demographics and considers the
sustainable management of community health volunteers (PSF).

Disaster Management
We commend the work of the Government strengthening implementation of
the National Disaster Management Policy through the creation of
disaster management structures at the national, district, sub-district
and community levels. This support is not, however, sufficient to
sustain community commitment in these early years. We recommend
increased financial commitment to the strengthening of these structures
and devolvement of responsibility to district level structures to
enable timely assessment and response to natural disasters.

The Community Based Disaster Risk Management working group is not
functioning, hampering coordinated learning at the national level. We
urge speedy reactivation of this important national learning forum.

The National Disaster Management Policy also references human-created
disasters, and we encourage further attention to prevention of
disasters by limiting tree-cutting, erosion, or unsafe construction. We
also recognize the Government’s efforts to support conflict prevention
and encourage development partners to consider how their assistance can
help reduce structural causes of conflict. We encourage stronger links
between the National Directorate of Disaster Management, the National
Directorate of Community Conflict Prevention and civil society
organizations working to prevent conflict. At the same time, resources
are required to ensure communities are supported to take action in
response to conflict factors identified before these escalate into

Child Protection
We welcome the government’s establishment of child protection
mechanisms across 13 Districts, as well as their support to strengthen
the capacity of the members of Child protection networks, District
child protection officers and sub district animators. We further
appreciate that the Government signed a memorandum of understanding in
May 2008, showing their commitment to the Child protection mechanism,
but we are concerned about the lack of adequate coordination and
insufficient support from the ministries. We recommend that the
Government strengthen its efforts to ensure the full functioning of
child protection mechanism and increase its financial commitment to
strengthen these structures, while continuing to cooperate with NGOs
with relevant.

We commend the government on its commitment to developing a Disability
policy and urge its approval, on schedule, in September 2010. We
further urge Timor-Leste’s to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities.

We regret that data on persons with disabilities has not been updated
since 2002, and encourage the Government to do so, with more health
personnel trained to identify disabilities. This, in turn, will aid
Cefe Sucos and Cefe Aldeias to accurately register disabled people for
government subsidies.

We recognize the work of the Water sector in considering the needs of
persons with disabilities and urge other Government departments to make
a similar commitment to ensuring that disabled people’s rights are

Social Housing
We are concerned about the quality of social housing in the districts
and lack of clear housing allocation processes. We recommend that local
community be involved in identifying criteria and selecting
beneficiaries for social housing.

NP6 Good Governance
Good Governance depends on participation, which requires citizen’s
access to information. Communities across the world, geographically
more isolated than Viqueque or Oecusse, enjoy cheaper, more accessible
and more interactive communications than the people of Timor Leste, and
we hope that the recent opening of telecommunications will change this.
We were amused to see the billboards proclaiming the Government’s new
website to the less than 1% of the population who access the web. We
strongly urge the government to enable all Timorese people to
communicate among themselves and with their government.

Inviting the Resource Curse
Timor-Leste is the most petroleum-dependent country in the world: 98%
of state revenues and 83% of Gross National Income are from oil and
gas. Consequently, we are in danger of falling into the “resource
curse” that affects countries which rely on converting non-renewable
natural resource wealth into cash. Oil money comes in easily – but only
for a short time – and it is tempting to spend it freely, without
considering the consequences for current and future generations.

Bayu-Undan production will decrease every year from now on, and stop
entirely in 13 years. Sunrise and other fields may provide additional
income, but the total revenue to Timor-Leste from all known and
possible oil and gas fields will be less than $50 billion U.S.
dollars. Unfortunately, this is not enough to make Timor-Leste a rich
country – when spread over 50 years of production and shared equally
among our rapidly growing population, petroleum revenues will provide
less than one dollar per person per day.

During 2009, Timor-Leste reported $258 million worth of imports, while
non-oil exports totaled only $8 million, nearly all of which is
coffee. This is unsustainable, made possible only by our temporary oil
revenues, supplemented with a little donor money. It is a classic
symptom of the “resource curse” and will create huge problems as our
population grows and oil revenues decline and stop.

We urge policy-makers to give more attention to other sectors of the
economy, and to prioritize strengthening Timor-Leste’s ability to
produce food, water, energy and other necessities from our own human
and physical resources, rather than spending dollars on imports, cash
handouts, impulsive large projects and subsidies.

State Budget
In order to ensure budget wisdom and accountability, it is critical
that civil society be involved in budget processes, which requires
timely information in Tetum or Bahasa Indonesia. We recommend wider
consultation in drafting the rectification and 2011 budgets, and
encourage more collaboration among state organs and with civil society.

We are concerned by the Government’s plans to borrow billions of
dollars later this year, to pay for centralized physical infrastructure
and other projects. Although revenues from our only producing oil and
gas field will end by 2024, debt repayment will continue. It will be
difficult to provide education, health and other services to our
growing population when debt service will have first claim on our
smaller revenues.

Enacting legislation
The Council of Ministers has announced a very ambitious legislative
agenda, with more than 100 laws and decree-laws to be enacted between
February and July of this year. We hope that these can be drafted with
appropriate levels of forethought, coordination and consultation.
During the past year, several new Parliamentary laws (especially those
on land, decentralization and the anti-corruption commission) received
good public consultation, and we encourage transparent, inclusive and
deliberative processes for all future parliamentary and decree laws,
with drafts provided in Tetum or Bahasa Indonesia, and longer, more
broad-based consultations.

Sustainable income (investment) and the Petroleum Fund
98% of Timor-Leste’s state income comes from oil revenues, which should
be used sustainably and wisely to support medium- and long-term
development, in accordance with the principles of intergenerational
equity in the Petroleum Fund Law.

We are unhappy that the Government overspent the Estimated Sustainable
Income in 2009, and appreciate that the 2010 State Budget stays within
it. We hope that the mid-year rectification and future budgets will
also respect sustainability, and that this principle is maintained when
the Petroleum Fund Law is reviewed.

When the Petroleum Fund law was adopted, drafters hoped that investing
the Fund would earn a return 3% higher than inflation, and designed the
Sustainable Income estimate around that. Unfortunately, global economic
conditions have made it impossible to earn 3% from investing the
Petroleum Fund, notwithstanding that the strategy over the last five
years has produced the highest return possible. We support gradually
diversifying Petroleum Fund investments beyond U.S. Treasury Bonds to
other currencies and secure investments, but this must be done slowly
and cautiously as Timor-Leste gains experience. Particular care should
be taken not to risk our principal by purchasing equities. The
government’s eagerness to spend more and earn a higher return on our
investments should not lead to major changes to the Petroleum Fund Law,
taking ill-considered or self-interested advice, or assuming unwise

In addition to being invested for a monetary return, the Petroleum Fund
pays for virtually all activities of our State. These expenditures
should be chosen prudently, with an eye toward reducing our dependency
on oil revenues. Wise spending will invest in human and physical
capital – such as education, preventive health, agriculture and rural
infrastructure – to strengthen non-oil sectors of Timor-Leste’s
economy, providing livelihoods and services after the oil runs out.

Decentralised planning
We support the direction of government policy towards decentralization
and would welcome more space for communities to participate in national
development planning. We recommend increased access to planning
information, as well as providing opportunities for suco leadership to
engage communities to identify and prioritise their own development
priorities that can be fed into the national processes in a timely
manner, before national priorities and budgets are set.

Civic education
To ensure participation in all the above planning and implementation,
government and donors should invest more in civic education for public
officials and citizens. This should encompass providing accessible and
clear information about processes including: budget and development
planning; state expenditure and revenues; development of legislation;
constitutional and legal structures; the definition and identification
of corruption and the process of decentralization. Information should
be targeted at communities and local authorities to empower communities
to actively contribute to democratic processes.

The future success of decentralization depends on good governance and
the active participation of the population. For the population to
understand new processes, the workings of the Camara Municipiu and the
Assembleia, Civil Society must be included in all training of elected
representatives and government staff. We urge the government to include
civil society in government capacity building towards decentralization
in municipalities.

We welcome the selection of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner (KAK) and
deputies. KAK should be allowed to conduct their own investigations of
any alleged corruption cases. KAK should have the authority to audit
government transactions. KAK and other agencies must be provided with
the resources to work with communities, civil servants and officials to
define, prevent and detect corruption.

We also urge the expeditious establishment of the High Tax and Audit

NP7 Security
Security means freedom from fear – that people can live without
worrying about violence, crime, civil disorder, repression, starvation,
disease, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. Although military and
police can help, long-lasting security does not come from armed forces
or threat of prison, but from knowing that the rule of law will be
followed, families can live without major disruptions to their lives,
and basic needs will be fulfilled.

The more difficult and fundamental necessities require inclusive,
equitable service delivery and economic development, and social
settlements at all levels of society. Indeed, if many people remain
impoverished and alienated while a few enjoy the benefits of affluence
and power, no amount of intimidation by men and women with guns can
provide security.

Timor-Leste is a young, post-conflict, post-colonial, impoverished,
traumatized, non-renewable-resource-dependent nation – an unfortunate,
fragile condition which makes genuine security difficult. We urge
development partners to use their expertise effectively in Timor-Leste
to ensure long-range social and economic development.

Development efforts have benefited from the continued improvements in
security, and government and development partners have invested
considerably in strengthening the police and military. Nevertheless,
instability continues on the horizon, and Timor-Leste needs an open
discussion of the role of security forces across Timorese society.

As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of PNTL 10, we acknowledge the
important role PNTL plays in protecting the nation and its increasing
assumption of responsibilities from UNPOL. In the past, our people
have endured repression by foreign security forces and militaristic
forms of policing. We are, however, concerned at increasing reports of
human rights violations by PNTL and the growing use of military weapons
and tactics.

Open the Doors on Security Sector Reform
We commend the inclusion of NGOs in the national priority working group
discussions. Yet we also find elite groups – national and
international – discussing security reform in Dili, isolated from
public scrutiny, national opinion, and those the reforms are intended
to benefit. Citizens, not only elites and active members of civil
society organizations, must be engaged in making decisions, not locked
out of discussion.

We strongly recommend that senior representatives of the security
forces publicly debate the role of security forces with the citizenry
across Timor-Leste, and sit in local, public forums, to identify the
best ways the state can provide security.

Recognize Traditional Peace Makers as Security Brokers
Community leaders enjoy wide public support, often serving as the main
source of law and justice in their localities. Yet security sector
reform efforts often fail to include local leadership in training and
capacity building, information and outreach, and operations and
planning. We strongly recommend that the government empower local
governance structures to provide security through training, information
sharing, communication technology and formalized partnerships with
security forces.

Form an Integrated Task Force for Security Response
Many security concerns do not require a direct response from security
forces, especially when threats are illusory. More broad-based
participation collecting, analyzing and evaluating potential or real
sources of violence will provide better results. When responding to
expected security problems, we urge the government to include the
Ministry of Social Solidarity and relevant Suco Councils in a task
force, together with security forces.

Educate the Public on Security – People’s Rights and Responsibilities
Few citizens, including members of the PNTL and F-FDTL, know their
rights and responsibilities under the formal legal system. Although
the security climate in the country has improved, perceptions of
insecurity depend on the strength of the social fabric within the
country, which was frayed in 2006, and by ongoing historical divisions
in the population. The Government should continue and strengthen
efforts to reinforce national unity by promoting educational and other
campaigns emphasizing shared history and tolerance.

Timorese are still accused of crimes in a language that they do not
speak – young people sitting in prison may have only understood their
sentence 3rd hand, Police officers should be able to explain the law
and suspects’ rights in local languages when questioning suspects and
arresting, moving or detaining accused criminals. We strongly urge
government to require PNTL officers to explain the applied law to


Timor-Leste needs an integrated and inclusive development plan, which
should incorporate input from all the components of our people,
including Civil Society and rural citizens. This will determine the
plan’s quality. We hope that the national plan will be submitted for
Parliamentary enactment to ensure wide discussion and acceptance.

We urge development partners and government to broaden their thinking,
planning and coordination. Developing Timor-Leste’s economy and
democracy is a long-term, complex, difficult task which cannot be
accomplished by a plethora of disconnected, short-term projects. Even
when designed, implemented and evaluated well, projects by their very
nature do not consider long-term implications or integration with other
activities, especially those in other sectors.

We hope that the National Plan will begin to change this approach,
which is deeply engrained both here and in worldwide development
assistance patterns. Both Government and donors should consciously
think about how each of their individual activities can contribute to
the long-term benefit of the people of this country. Recent experience
has shown that projects or policies designed to address short-term
needs may have long-term negative consequences.

We look forward to the results of this week’s discussions with the hope
that their positive outcomes will compensate for their negative impact
on the global climate.

On behalf of National and International NGO members of FONGTIL, with
many thanks to all our colleagues for their input,

Dinorah Granadeiro, Fongtil
Francisco de Vasconcelho, Fundasaun Monte Esperanca
Clare Danby, Save the Children

Charles Scheiner
La’o Hamutuk (The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and
Analysis) P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Telephone: +670-3325013 or +670-734-0965 mobile
email: website:
skype: cscheiner


One response to “NGO statement to TLDPM

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