Subject: Is there Rule of Law in Timor-Leste?

Tempo Semnal

Is there Rule of Law in Timor-Leste?

The Minister of Justice launches attack on Tempo Semanal.

Potentially a precedent setting use of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste's anti-defamation law by a senior member of the Government against the free press in Timor-Leste.

Dili, Timor-Leste, 18 December 2008 – In a widely anticipated move, on 12 December 2008, the Office of Prosecutor-General served notice to the Tempo Semanal weekly newspaper that it is to appear on 19 January 2009 to answer defamation charges brought against Tempo Semanal by Lucia Lobato, the Minister of Justice. When asked by Tempo Semanal to be given a copy of the charges the Office of the Prosecutor-General stated that this would be impossible seeing as the relevant documents were confidential. Thereby depriving Tempo Semanal of due process, and this is only the beginning.

On 12 October 2008 Tempo Semanal published a story alleging acts of corruption regarding Government contracts by the Minister of Justice. The story can be viewed in Tetun <> at this link; and in English <> at this link. These were based upon a series confidential interviews and a large number of text messages sent and received by the Minister of Justice on her publically financed Government mobile phone.

The content of these messages was made available to Tempo Semanal by a confidential source. Tempo Semanal intends to protect its sources.

These messages were sent and received by a Government phone used by the Minister of Justice, paid for by the State of Timor-Leste, and are therefore the property of the people of Timor-Leste. These messages indicated that there were strong suspicions that the Minister of Justice was providing inside information and indeed possibly favourable conditions to business people in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The contracts involved Ministry of Justice projects relating 1) to renovation of the Becora Prison perimeter wall, 2) uniforms for the prison service [insert video] and 3) the design, issuance and management of national identity documentation. The relevant stories can be found at the following links via < >Tempo Semanal online site.

A subsequent attempt by Tempo Semanal on 16 October 2008 to obtain clarification on the alleged corruption were met by refusals by the Minister of Justice to grant Tempo Semanal an interview – view the video ( ). Tempo Semanal has also uncovered allegations of corruption against Americo Lopes, the husband of the Minister of Justice, and owner of Pualaka Petroleo – see the story at this link.

The relevant mobile phone sms messages made by the Minister of Justice can be viewed on the website of the international "whistle blower" Wikileaks (  )

<>Tempo Semanal has received veiled threats by members of the Government if it chooses to continue reporting on corruption; likewise it has also received words of encouragement by the many members of government, the opposition and wider civil society to continue.

While Tempo Semanal does not have the same resources at its disposal as the Minister of Justice it intends to defend its sources, and the position of the free press in Timor-Leste – to the full extent of the law - such as it is in Timor-Leste.

Tempo Semanal will not accept money from the Government to run away to another country and therefore avoid the judicial process. You can "Kill the Newsman, but you cannot Kill the News."

Tempo Semanal asks that supporters of its reporting show their support by continuing to read its weekly copy and in any other way that people may see appropriate within the limits of the law.

Critics are also welcome to submit their comments at the below contact information and to not read the newspaper.

Information about Tempo Semanal:

Tempo Semanal is a weekly newspaper founded in [insert date and details]. With the exception of some advertising receives no support from the international community based in Timor-Leste.

In 2008 Tempo Semanal has taken the lead on reporting on corruption in Timor-Leste at a time when the national budget has increased by 500% in less than 18 months. Its stories have covered allegations of corruption in the 1) Ministry of Health, 2) the Secretariat of State for Social Solidarity, the 3) national police service, 4) the Ministry of Finance 5) the Office of the Prime Minister and 5) the Ministry of Justice to name but a few.

For more information, please contact:

Tempo Semanal

Email: and/e/ka

Mobile/Telemovél: +670 723 4852 

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