Subject: On the Findings of the Independent Inquiry Commission (IIC) for the
PRESIDÊNCIA DA REPÚBLICA
Statement to the Media
On the Findings of the Independent Inquiry Commission (IIC) for the FALINTIL-FDTL
Palácio das Cinzas
Dili, 24 August 2004
On the initiative of His Excellency the President of the Republic and under the auspices of three organs of sovereignty, the National Parliament, the Government of the RDTL, and the President of the Republic, an Independent Inquiry Commission (IIC) for the FALINTIL-FDTL was created on 18 February 2004 following the events of 24 January 2004 in Lospalos.
In addition to H.E. the President of the Republic who presided the IIC, five (5) members of the National Parliament joined the IIC, namely, MP Jose Manuel Fernandes, (Vice-President of the IIC), MP Lourdes Maria Alves de Araujo, MP Luisa da Costa, MP Vicente da Silva Guterres (Secretary of the IIC), and MP Vidal de Jesus Riak Leman as well as two members of the Government, Alcino Barris (Vice-Minister of the Interior) and Roque Rodrigues (Secretary of State for Defence). Additionally, an UNMISET representative and a representative from each of the donor countries engaged in the training of FALINTIL-FDTL (Australia, the United States of America, New Zealand and Portugal) also took part in the IIC as Observers.
The IIC decided to pay visits to every military unit of F-FDTL and for this purpose they visited their units in Lospalos, Metinaro, Hera and Dili. Each of the seven (7) areas that will follow was assigned to each member of the IIC: “Administration,” “Military Education and Training,” “Ethical and Citizenship Training,” “Living Conditions,” “Veterans,” “Relations between F-FDTL, the PNTL and the Civilian Population,” and “Legislation.” Over 300 military personnel of the F-FDTL, amongst whom were officers, sergeants and soldiers, were interviewed by members of the IIC on these matters.
From the contacts established with the hierarchy, from the interviews held with the military personnel and from the visits made to the barracks of F-FDTL resulted a strict assessment of the situation currently experienced by the Defence Forces and a set of recommendations was drawn out for the structural problems assessed and solutions were proposed to make F-FDTL a disciplined and harmonious body that fully meets the higher callings entrusted upon them by the Constitution.
Serious deficiencies were found in the general plan of the organisation, including the admission requirements, the organisation of individual files, the attendance record and certifications of leave, the system of promotion, the accounting procedures, the procedures for the payment of salaries and external services, the extreme weakness of the current administrative and financial controls among others. This situation is further aggravated by the centralization by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, and not the General Headquarters, of all supplies: from repairing a generator to the purchase of pens…
The disciplinary issue is particularly worrisome. The Regulation on the Code of Military Discipline in force was approved by UNTAET in July 2001 and, in addition to it already not corresponding to the current needs, it never was sufficiently disseminated nor translated into Tetun nor was it systematically enforced. There are no permanent disciplinary organs to ensure its proper enforcement and uniform interpretation. This situation creates a vacuum of authority, for fear on the part of the commanders that the legality of the application of sanctions will be disputed.
The working conditions inside the barracks are precarious. Financial difficulties have produced a negative impact on the communications, equipment and maintenance services. The same conditions can be observed, at times, in relation to their quartering areas, food and uniforms. For all of these reasons it is not surprising that the military personnel complain about their living conditions. The insufficiency of the military personnel’s salary (in the amount of US$85) to cover their own as well as their family expenses, including transport, food, clothes, health and education for their children is common knowledge.
As regards academic background and military training, the lack of specific courses for officers, sergeants, soldiers as well as for the General Staff officers stands out. In addition to that, there are no Timorese instruction manuals and even those that do exist have not been translated into Tetun. The assessment criteria of the trainees do not take into account the differences in gender, which results in a reduction in the number of women having the rank of sergeants and officers. Notwithstanding the low level of military education and training of the military personnel, there are no means to facilitate the strengthening of their general knowledge or the conditions to apply criteria for promotion by merit.
According to the law, the veterans of Falintil are the foundation of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste. The incorporation of veterans and youth into the framework of a new conventional army is made difficult by the cultural and generational difficulties and by different life experiences. These contradictions harm relations between them, feed indiscipline among the youth and generate resentment among the veterans who are closer to the end of their active life and who are physically disadvantaged. Many of them have families destroyed, no means of survival or housing and they do not have of the minimal social network that will ensure them a life with a minimum of dignity.
Relations between the F-FDTL, the Police and the Civil Population are marked by feelings of relative marginalisation and abandonment experienced by the military personnel. Members of the Police notoriously enjoy the best conditions in terms of equipment, uniform and salary. At the top of the hierarchy, there is a Ministry that formulates, co-ordinates and implements the internal security policy. Its organisation and strength has benefited from continuous advancements. On the contrary, the F-FDTL only has a Secretariat of the State as its political and budgetary interlocutor, which is divested of support services. The Superior Council of Defence and Security has still not been created by law.
From among the set of recommendations that the IIC has made, the following ones stand out:
In the area of Administration, the IIC recommends the creation of a Ministry of National Defence by the corresponding transformation of the Secretariat of State of Defence. It also recommends the creation of a Military Police as well as the creation of a “Disciplinary Council,” a permanent organ responsible for the application of the Code of Military Discipline and other military regulations.
It recommends, on the other hand, the definition of an individual assessment system of the military personnel and the revision of the current system of promotion, as well as the creation of an official document of promotion to be published in the Official Gazette and transcribed into the job orders.
It recommends that when preparing the 2005-2006 State Budget, a revision of the salaries already established for the various echelons be made so as to dignify the statute of the soldier.
It equally recommends a greater participation on the part of the Chief of General Staff of F-FDTL, of the competent services of the various Units and of the various services of the present Secretariat of State of Defence (in the future, the Ministry of National Defence) in the administrative and technical preparation of future draft Budgets for F-FDTL. It further recommends better communication between those entities and the Ministry of Planning and Finance, in order to speed up the processes of meeting the needs of the Armed Forces. Finally, in this chapter, the IIC recommends that an audit be made in order to examine and prevent possible financial and accounting irregularities.
As regards Military Education and Training, the IIC recommends the preparation of a “Basic Instruction Manual” and a “Complementary Instruction Manual,” with a version in Tetun, to be adapted to the assessment criteria of the trainees so as to take into account the differences in gender, the creation of specific Courses for Officers, Sergeants and Soldiers as well as the signing of Military Co-operation Agreements with the CPLP with a view to training Timorese officers in Military Academies of CPLP countries, until there are military establishments of Timorese institutions for military instruction in the country.
Within the framework of Ethical and Citizenship Training, the IIC recommends the development of initiatives that contribute to improvements in ethical training and in the citizenship of the military personnel of F-FDTL, namely through training and discussions about the Constitution, Laws of the RDTL, international law, human rights, democracy and domestic violence, among other subjects, to be promoted by the Parliament, by the Office of the Advisor for Human Rights and by Non-Governmental Organisations.
The IIC recommends the improvement or the construction of adequate facilities for every unit of F-FDTL, for the I Light Infantry Battalion in Lospalos, for the Nicolau Lobato Training Centre in Metinaro, for the Naval Base in Hera, and for the General Headquarters in Dili.
As regards the Naval Component of F-FDTL specifically, the IIC recommends a clear definition of its specific mission and the continuation of technical training programmes for the naval military personnel. It also recommends the effective purchase of various materials that are vital for the Naval Component to become operational.
As regards the General Headquarters, the IIC recommends the construction of definitive and permanent facilities and the anticipated planning for the construction of facilities for the Communications Unit and for the Military Police to be used once the latter is created. It also recommends the recruitment of competent technical personnel in order to support the area of administrative management and to assist in the planning of programmes for F-FDTL. In addition, the IIC recommends more and better training for the high-ranking officers of F-FDTL and the retention of military advisors who can speak Portuguese so as to facilitate communication and the learning process.
The IIC further recommends the adoption of specific uniforms for F-FDTL and a new supply system to the Defence Forces so as to ensure the overall improvement in the preparation and variety of their food, namely through the purchase and use of local or national food products.
As for the Veterans, the IIC recommends a clear definition of those who deserve to be conferred the statute of “veteran” as well as their classification and “placement” in the respective categories. There is a need to know who they are, how many of them exist, and where they are located. There is also a need to know who and where the widows, orphans and parents of the veterans are.
The IIC also recommends the establishment of mechanisms aimed at dignifying the living conditions of those veterans living in hardship, namely through the provision of unemployment benefits or of pensions to unemployed veterans, or to veterans looking for a job, or to veterans who, for health, physical or psychological reasons, are having a difficult time in reorganising their lives. The IIC recommends the granting of a survival pension to the widows and orphans of the deceased veterans, as well as to the parents of deceased veterans who are now very old and who find themselves in a difficult economic situation.
As regards the veterans integrated into the F-FDTL, the IIC recommends that they remain in this institution because their participation is essential in the current structuring process of the Defence Forces, but also because of their memory of the struggle, of their example of commitment, abnegation, persistence, and patriotism, which are values that must be cultivated by our military personnel. The IIC recommends the Commanders of the Units to pay a special attention to the improvement in the relations between the veterans and their younger hierarchical superiors. In the future, the Statute of the Military Personnel of the Defence Forces must guarantee all rights of veterans, namely their right to retirement.
The IIC also recommends the promotion of training programmes for veterans groups, assigning them to concrete projects and requests the Government to prepare a report on the “Respect” Project.
The IIC recommends that the Secretary of State for Defence and the General Staff, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, provide health care and adequate treatment to veterans, whether they are with F-FDTL or civilians.
The IIC recommends that the Secretary of State for Defence and the General Staff, in coordination with the Land and Property Services, jointly try to solve the problem of the construction of houses for needy veterans, as well as a Military Canteen.
The IIC further recommends the granting of decorations both to living and deceased veterans, and recommends the construction of a monument to the Heroes with the names of those who died inscribed in it.
Within the framework of the Relations Between F-FDTL, PNTL and the Civilian Population, the IIC recommends the elimination of differences in treatment between the members of F-FDTL and the PNTL as regards food subsidies and subsistence allowances, for example. The IIC recommends the promotion of specific initiatives aimed at establishing a better communication and interaction between F-FDTL and PNTL both at the level of officers as well as among sergeants and soldiers. The IIC further recommends a better interaction between F-FDTL and the civilian population through the creation, for example, of a Military Engineering Team that could assist the population in cases of emergency or natural disasters.
As regards Legislation, the IIC further recommends the National Parliament and the Government to prepare and approve the following statutes within the framework of their respective constitutional competencies: 1. Law of National Defence and Defence Force (under the competence of the Parliament);
2. Statute of the Military of the Defence Force (under the competence of the Parliament);
3. Law of the Military Service (under the competence of the Parliament or of the Government following respective authorisation to legislate);
4. Organic Law of the Ministry of National Defence (once the Ministry of National Defence is created) (under the exclusive competence of the Government);
5. Law of Military Programming (under the competence of the Parliament);
6. Basic Organic Law for the Organisation of the Armed Forces (under the competence of the Parliament);
7. Code of Military Justice (under the competence of the Parliament or of the Government following respective authorisation to legislate);
8. New Regulation of Military Discipline (under the competence of the Parliament or of the Government following respective authorisation to legislate).
Finally, the IIC further recommends that all normative provisions relating to F-FDTL be translated into Tétum.
Palácio das Cinzas, 24 August 2004
VICENTE DA SILVA GUTERRES JOSÉ MANUEL FERNANDES Member of Parliament and Member of Parliament and Secretary of the Commission Vice-President of the Commission
KAY RALA XANANA GUSMAO President of the Republic and President of the Commission
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