Subject: XG: Speech at Centre for Judicial Training

Speech by
H.E. KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO
President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Centre for Judicial Training

Dili, 1st October, 2004

President of the Court of Appeal

Minister for Justice

Vice-Minister for Justice

Judges

Compatriots, Brothers and Sisters

I would like to first of all thank the President of the Court of Appeal for inviting me to come here to the opening of one more phase of study and preparation for the servants of Justice, in this case, the Timorese.

I have been trying to follow from afar, the activities of the Courts and above all, the issue of the whole judicial system in our new independent State. I have also accompanied the difficulties, both in technical and professional terms, as well as in the work conditions.

I have even accompanied with some sentiment of sadness and also with certain frustration, in virtue of all that is happening in relation to you.

Compatriots, brothers and sisters

On the other hand, you have also accompanied my concerns and above all, the concerns of our society and of our people.

I have called attention to the Government and to the donors to the problem that our Courts have and continue to face. For the Government to consider all the needs of the Courts in the annual budgets, so that the Justice Sector can accompany the progress established in other Sovereign Bodies and for the donors to support the Government to meet the infrastructure needs of the Justice Sector.

I have also called attention to the servants of Justice, in relation to the absolute need for professionalism and work ethics. I have appealed for greater service, greater dedication and greater effort.

I have appealed to hold on to principles; I have appealed for a profound conscience for the process of building a country.

I have also appealed to the people to acquire a new nationalism, which means, above all, to place ourselves within the true reality and to know well the demands of the process on us, individually or on society.

Compatriots, brothers and sisters

I have heard your complaints and I think that they are very much natural as well as human. Therefore, on the one hand, I try to understand the human side of your discomfort, while on the other, I should not agree with your state of spirit.

As intellectuals and youths (as our laws extended youth until 35 years of age and only at age 36 does a person become an adult), you should understand your own involvement in the process.

We have all heard and repeated that our current process is to build the State. And more importantly even, is the building of the democratic State, a State of democratic rule (as there are States based on the Rule of Law which are not democratic but where supremacy of law exists).

This is the major core of the issue, of the entire problem that involves you directly.

Compatriots, brothers and sisters

We are still building, which means that we are erecting little by little the structure of the State. And even physically, we can see that there are still many buildings that need to be rehabilitated, that is we no longer say, they need to be built.

The building of the State implies above all, the creation of structures or institutions, foreseen in the Constitution of RDTL. But the building of the State also demands capacity from those who occupy these institutions; it demands responsibility from those who are part of these structures and it demands also service, entailing sacrifice, abnegation for those, who in one way or another, are involved as agents of this difficult and daunting process.

The birth of the Nation was difficult, as it came with immense pain, with great bloodshed and tears. This fragile baby, whom we have in our hands to care for, demands us to assume responsibility to the people.

This baby will only grow healthy and become an adult and vigorous if, from now on, we all take time to nourish it, to change its nappies, to bathe it and encourage it to walk and to speak.

It is in this perspective that we should view our State. It is in this perspective that we should look at our responsibilities and it is in this perspective that each one of us, should look at their own role in the process.

Thus, it should always be with the perspective for the future; it should always be with the vision for tomorrow that we should understand our personal difficulties on the one hand, and on the other, the concerns of society, and above all, of the people.

What really are the concerns of society and the people? They are very simple: that in reality this process of building the State guarantees us that the State of democratic rule does not become a rhetoric illusion for politicians and rulers, but that it be a reality that compensates sacrifices of the past and present.

Compatriots, brothers and sisters

And what is the pillar of the structure of the State that guarantees that the State is built on solid bases? It is the Courts, by those who operate in these Courts. And they would be you who are here today participating in this judicial training program.

Sometimes, we laugh when we know that after two years of work, the parliamentarians are already debating a law contemplating their retirement. At other times, we become sad when we know that the youths appear in hundreds to sign up to join the police and F-FDTL, more out of need for employment rather than being motivated by their conscience for civic duty, which these two professions (Police and F-FDTL) imply.

The President of the Republic is not a career job. It is merely a political function to which any citizen can aspire, to carry out the duty to watch over the welfare of the Rule of Law, for a short period of one mandate and at maximum for two mandates.

A Parliamentarian does not perform a career job, unless it is their own political career.

The Ministers do not perform a career job; the Head of Government appoints and dismisses them just as the Governments can change.

A Civil Engineer is a career profession, a Doctor is a career profession and their value and credibility is merely a product, not only of experience but also of the good services they provide.

But these two professional careers only provide services to a very restricted area of social life and do not impact on the core life of the entire society, in the day-to-day reality of the people and in the political life of the Nation. An Engineer can be extraordinary in constructing buildings, bridges, roads, promoting physical development of the country, which even merits praise. A Doctor can be distinguished in the treatment of disease, eradicating malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, deserving the admiration of all.

But all this can take place within a non-democratic system, where corruption exists, where the law is manipulated for the benefit of the rich and where violations of human rights are committed against the poor, those who are weak.

Compatriots, brothers and sisters

We have a good Constitution; a Constitution that defends the State of democratic rule, a Constitution that emphasizes the supremacy of law as fundamental to the system.

In politics, those who make laws are sometimes compelled to defend their own interests, which are not the interests of the whole society.

In politics, those who govern sometimes forget the principles defined by the Constitution and can trample on the interests of the people.

Who and which institution guarantees the supremacy of law? The Courts and Agents of Justice! And that is why the independence of the Courts is advocated. The independence of the Courts in decision-making, in resolving cases, whether criminal or civil, is your responsibility.

However, we are still building our State. Developing the capacity of the Sovereign Bodies is the responsibility of all; both in the overall plan to understand the State and in the plan of the mission or function of each one involved in this process of building.

You are here today in a training program. I know that you feel disregarded, after some years in which you were judges, prosecutors and public defendants.

I know you feel greatly shocked with the evaluation to which you were subjected. As President of the Republic, I ask that you adopt the opposite attitude, which is more positive for you, for the process and for the future of the country.

I ask of you for humility, I ask of you for dedication in your studies and training; I ask of you to trust in yourselves, I ask of you to have a spirit of responsibility towards the future. And this future can only be the spiritual and physical well-being of our people.

Free yourselves of the tendency to being also the youths who want to be members of the Police and F-FDTL, because they need employment. Free yourselves of the perception that you are public servants, who look at the routine of work as a source of income for the family.

Acquire the true conscience that being a judge, a prosecutor or a public defender is a mission; it is to receive a duty greater than all of society; it is to carry the weight of responsibility for the process and for the people.

If the Courts function professionally, they will have the necessary moral authority to instil trust in the people, which is so needed, in order to believe that independence was worth achieving.

You are career judges, prosecutors and public defenders, not temporarily nor in terms of retirement. Your career is the most dignified of all professions. You must all assume your role with the soul and spirit of giving.

In order to be a mirror, to be an example, to deserve greater respect from all, you need to be prepared to carry out your profession.

And this is why you are beginning this new phase on Ethics and Deontology.

Honesty and rigor in your private, social and professional life are demanded.

Professionalism in the application of law, impartiality in the resolution of cases and humanism in the study and analysis of problems are important factors in your development.

Never think that because you are in a training program, this only indicates that we have minimized you or that we have stopped believing in you. Before anything else, you must think that it is the concern of all us to look after you, as you are extremely necessary to guarantee the State of democratic rule.

I wish you success in your studies and every success in your professional life. In order to obtain this, sacrifices will be necessary. Thank you very much.


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