Subject: Letter to Hasegawa regarding Jose Belo's Case
Adérito de Jesus Soares, S.H., LLM Independent human rights lawyer & lawyer representing Diario Tempo Rua Nicolao Lobato Colmera Dili, Timor Leste Hp: +670-725-5538
Mr Sukehiro Hasegawa Head of United Nations Office in Timor Leste (UNOTIL) Obrigado Barracks Villa Verde Dili Timor-Leste
October 17, 2005
Re: the seizure of a camera belonging to a Diario Tempo journalist by an UNOTIL international staff member
Dear Mr Hasegawa,
I am writing to you regarding the theft of a camera belonging to Diario Tempo journalist and correspondent of Associated Press Television News (APTN) Mr Jose Antonio Belo by a UNOTIL international staff member, Ms Alda Perreira, Legal Adviser to the Appeal Court on 13 of October, 2005.
Mr Belo was covering the eviction at a house in Mandarin, Dili being carried out by the Appeal Court of Timor Leste. Because journalists were barred from entering the house, Mr Belo was standing in a public road, filming events from there.
While filming from this public spot, a UNOTIL international staffer, Ms Alda Perreira approached Mr Belo and seized his camera, without giving him any explanation for her unwarranted action.
Mr Belo has not yet received his camera back, nor has he received any information, explanation or apology from UNOTIL regarding the illegal seizure of his private property.
We considered the action of the seizure to be theft by an international staff who should understand better the rule of law and demonstrate a professional and courteous manner in carrying out of her duty. We are saddened by the very unprofessional actions of Ms Perreira. Worse still, her actions were a violation of press freedom the golden hope of UN which is enshrined in all UN documents.
I therefore am acting on behalf of Mr Belo and Diario Tempo, in condemning this unprofessional action. I would ask you to investigate that matter involving your international staff and have the camera returned to Mr. Belo as soon as possible with an apology to my client.
Adérito de Jesus Soares, S.H., LLM
Cc: President of the Appeal Court, Dili Minister of Justice PNTL Commander Human Rights Unit, UNOTIL Human Rights NGOs in Timor-Leste Local and international media
SRSG HASEGAWA: FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IS SACROSANCT
18 October 2005 - The United Nations Office in Timor-Leste regrets national media reports that an UNOTIL official has violated the Constitution of Timor-Leste. This is a matter being handled by the authorities of Timor-Leste. Confirming the belief of the United Nations, and of UNOTIL officials, in the principles of the freedom of the press and the right to public information, the head of UNOTIL and the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa said, “The freedom of the press is sacrosanct. It is a right to be protected under all circumstances.”
In response to the headline news carried in the 18 October 2005 Edition of Diario Tempo, UNOTIL confirms that the person against whom allegations of violation of press freedom have been aimed is one of the 45 UNOTIL civilian advisers working within the state institutions of Timor-Leste. While the person remains administratively an UNOTIL official, her operational responsibility is to carry out duties as tasked by the National Court of Appeal of Timor-Leste where she serves as Head Court Clerk.
SRSG, Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa has instructed UNOTIL officials to obtain full information in order to ascertain the facts of the matter.
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