Subject: HAK ( Program Update (January – March 2008)
 

Association HAK (Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice) Program Update (January – March 2008)
 
HAK hopes to increase information exchange about the current situation in Timor-Leste, especially regarding human rights and our work.

The activities described here developed out of a strategic planning process we undertook in December 2007. We welcome your comments and look forward to future collaboration to increase respect for human rights in Timor-Leste.
 
Legal and Human Rights Education
 
One of our priorities for 2008-2010 is training community leaders in human rights, law and legal procedures. To develop a training program that corresponds to the real problems of communities and needs of the village chiefs and community leaders, HAK conducted an assessment of 23 of the 25 neighborhoods in Dili from March 25 through April 1. The assessment also looked into knowledge of community leaders to resolve problems within existing legal and human rights frameworks. The village chiefs expressed a desire to collaborate with HAK and participate in the training.
 
Domestic violence is the dominant issue for 23 of the 25 neighborhoods that took part in the assessment, other frequent problems include land and inheritance disputes. The village chiefs are also concerned about the limited resources they receive to carry out their responsibilities. Many work out of their homes and lack basic equipment such as desks, chairs and administrative materials. This severely limits their ability to attend to the needs of the community. They complained that the quarterly $35 they receive is insufficient. Compared to the resources allocated to the parliamentarians, village chiefs feel they are discriminated against despite the fact that they are directly elected by the population and parliamentarians elected only through their party.
 
Law and Human Rights Enforcement
 
HAK, along with the United Nations Human Rights Unit and the government’s Office of Provedor for Human Rights and Justice set up a Joint Monitoring Team (JMT) on the Joint Command Operation (KOK) established by the State of Siege announced on 13 February 2008. The JMT focused on the districts of Bobonaro, Ermera and Dili. Their objective was to accompany and observe the Joint Command Operation’s adherence to law and the security situation in general, including detention facilities such as police detention cells and prisons, and the treatment of suspects and prisoners.
 
The JMT was able to immediately bring situations to the attention of the competent authorities, such as the commander of Joint Command Operation, the Provedor’s office, the Prosecutor’s office and the Prime Minister. The communities, community leaders and victims provided facts on human rights violations such as KOK threatening the community with weapons, beatings, illegal detentions, bad treatment and insulting the community and unauthorized entry into homes during the night. The police and prison guards also treated prisoners violently. The highest number of violations occurred in Dili, second highest in Ermera and third in Maliana. They were committed by the military, military police, Timor-Leste National Police and International Stabilization Forces.
 
The State of Siege and Joint Command Operation also affected social and economic activity, especially in Ermera District. The business community and small scale entrepreneurs, farmers, general population and students in isolated areas were most affected. They had to reduce or totally stop their activities to comply with the limitations established under the State of Siege. According to the Principal of the Secondary School in Gleno (Ermera District) students stopped coming to school because they lived too far or were too afraid.
 
Some of the data collected by the JMT has already been submitted to the competent authorities. Right now the data is being analyzed by the JMT before they submit it to the KOK, prosecutor and government. It will be developed into a usable document to reinforce advocacy efforts, especially to push for concrete measures that reinforce the law and regulations for any future operations.
 
Upholding Justice
 
As part of a consultation with families of victims about HAK, along with Fokupers, International Commission for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), the Baucau Commission for Justice and Peace, the Technical Secretariat of the Post-Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (STP-CAVR) and the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), held a workshop in Dili on 26 and 27 May 2008. The President of the Parliament, Members of Parliament from Commission A, governmental representatives from the health, justice and education ministries, international and national NGO representatives, the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Red Cross of Timor-Leste (CVTL) and the Provodor for Human Rights and Justice participated in the workshop. The workshop had an advocacy element­to influence the government and parliament to advance a national reparations program as recommended by the CAVR report Chega. Chega has not been implemented since its release in October 2005. Only now the national parliament is beginning to consider it. The focus of the national reparations program is supporting and rehabilitating the most vulnerable of the victims with assistance to single mothers and school children without fathers, assistance for invalids, widows and victims of sexual violations and torture, as well as giving aid to the most effected communities.
 
HAK Association, Fokupers, the Baucau Peace and Justice Commission, STP-CAVR, and ICTJ conducted the consultation on reparations with victims in 13 districts from 29 March until 24 May 2008. The consultation served to unite civil society with the victims in their approach to reparations. The organizations involved split into three groups of four people with each focused on one region (east, central and west) of the country. The objective of the consultations was to increase information about reparations, to listen to opinions about reparations for victims, and to discuss victims’ networking. According to HAK, victims and their families participated in the consultations in large numbers. In each of the 13 districts 20 – 35 people participated in the gatherings. Although the victims demonstrated their commitment through their participation, they still appealed for justice. Before when the discussion focused on reconciliation, they also talked about justice; but if there is no justice, the victims do not favor reconciliation, rather they prefer reparations.
 
Peace Building Programme
 
From March 14 to April 25, 2008, HAK worked with the Peace Building Network of Action Asia to send 17 members and leaders of Timorese martial arts groups to the Philippines for an education and training program on conflict transformation and peace building. The objective is to establish a sustainable peace building network among the leadership and members of national youth organizations in Timor-Leste, as agents of change and responsive citizens, knowledgeable and proficient in the study and analysis of conflict and violence. Our aim is for them, both now and in the future, to be able to identify strategies and intervene as peacemakers among the people and for the nation; to develop trust among the leaders of national youth organizations, civil society and NGOs in Timor-Leste to create space for students/participants to develop their own network and identify strategic activities.
 
During the training in the Philippines, the delegation learned about the history of the country, primarily by visiting historical sites where People Power led to the nonviolent overthrow of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. They visited the historic National Ayala Museum in Manila to learn about the evolution in people’s lives from primitive to modern times, and the national monument to Jose Rizal, Philippine hero in the struggle against Spanish colonialism who was sentenced to death. The delegation learned from the experiences of prisoners in the National Bilibid Prison where they had a dialogue with members of the Peace Building Group in the prison, a group formed among inmates after they attended peace training. The prisoners repented their violent behavior of the past and rejected it for their future. The delegation studied the experiences of different organizations, including AKKAPKA, a social change organization that engages in nonviolent campaigning, they exchanged experiences and learned how to conduct negotiations from Balay Mindanao Foundation who partners with the Philippine government in the dialogue process with rebel groups, and they learned about the situation of victims of conflict and violence from a community in Lanao Province. They visited a military camp where they dialogued with military officials leading the dialogue process for peace.
 
Along with the many experiences in the Philippines, HAK facilitated a seminar on “Conflict, Human Rights, and Peace Building in Timor-Leste” to conclude the Philippine visit, and to support the leaders of the martial arts groups to get organized. The seminar provided a bridge for the Timorese to reflect on the upcoming commemoration of the restoration of Timor-Leste’s independence. After the seminar, many entities­not just the martial arts groups­participated in a peace march to nurture a spirit of building peace for this dear country, Timor-Leste.
 
For more information please contact: Antonio Maria Soares at direito@yayasanhak.minihub.org
 

Association HAK (Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice)
Rua Governador Serpa Rosa T-091, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel. +670-331-3323

Email: direito@yayasanhak.minihub.org
 

 

 


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