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    The PDHJ Released a Book on “The Fundamental Rights in Timor Leste”

    Dili- On 24 June 2015, the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) in cooperation with the National University of Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) released a book with the title Fundamental Rights in Timor Leste –Theory and Practice”, at the meeting room of the National Commission for Elections (CNE) in Caicoli-Dili.

    Dr. Silverio Pinto Baptista, the Provedor, in his address affirmed: “With the release of this book today we create new pages in the history of the PDHJ services: an academic scientific study support in the legal area of  fundamental rights. I hope this release to be an open one and that would fortify the mechanisms for human rights protection in Timor-Leste”.

    The international forums, including the CPLP National Human Rights Institutions forum, have identified the important values which could be brought through the partnership with the academic institutions for the protection of human rights. The Provedor said: “I’m proud of that the PDHJ in 2013 had intiated a cooperation with the Human Rights Center at the Faculty of Law – Coimbra University, reflecting the relationships between the National Human Rights Institutions and the University. Besides its partnership with the University in Portugal, the PDHJ is also truly happy with the positive reponse from our UNTL (the National University of Timor-Lorosa’e) to be with us in the release of this book”.

    The Provedor said that the Provedoria as a National Human Rights Institution, has its main responsibilities in strengthening human rights protection. Human rights protection, which includes fundamental rights established in the Constitution of RDTL, can be actualized through two means: jurisdictional mechanisms (such as the mechanisms estabished by the courts jurisdictions), as well as through non-jurisdictional mechanisms (which are are not trough judicial means). The PDHJ is a National Human Rights Institution of non-jurisdictional nature. The Courts, together with all the judicial system components – including the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the defense attorney and the lawyers, are the jurisdictional mechanisms for the fundamental rights protection in Timor-Leste.

    However, we cannot separate them when considering these two mechanisms. Actually they are parallel in nature but sometimes they cannot meet each other.

    To be more effective , the PDHJ as a non-jurisdictional institution for human rights protection can use the fundamental rights interpretation standards from the courts. In other countries the NHRIs’ services can be successful when the NHRIs use the courts’ jurisprudence in the areas of fundamental rights and of human rights.

    Though the judicial system needs to be fortified, the PDHJ acknowledges the positive outcomes it already has achieved. For instance, now women’s fundamental rights have obtained more protection in our courts; also, we are sure that the access to justice have become greater compared to that in the past 5 or 8 years. But, in PDHJ’s views, the courts and the judicial actors should strengthen more the fundamental rights legal perpectives as well as to more broadening the interpretation for these guarantees.

    The PDHJ indeed undertook internal services during 3 years in developing human rights and good governance violations categories. Specifically, for those related to human rights violations categories, the PDHJ developed them based on the international rights analysis, as the PDHJ does not have yet a strong doctrine base to support the estabishment of reference manuals for its everyday works.

    The PDHJ feels that it’s now the time to take another step forward to strengthen all the jurisdictional mechanisms  and non-jurisdictional mechanisms tasks in implementing the fundamental rights through legal perspectives. Also, it’s now the time for the Provedoria itself to support this process, which indeed is the PDHJ’s responsability determined by its Statute.

    The Provedor further esplained that such type of legal book like The Fundamental Rights in Timor-Leste can become an inportant instrument for the capacity development of the Law professionals in  Timor-Leste. This is a book of pedagogical nature, which at the same time has analitical perpectives,  can strengthen the knowlwdge of all of us. Up to the present moment the materials with academical level about Timor-Leste’s ordainment and judicial system are still limited in number.

    The Provedoria believes that Timor-Leste can benefit from the development of the judicial doctrine resulted from the initiatives of various institutions. “I think this publication will be useful for all the Law professionals working for the public and private institutions with various areas of competencies or missions in strengthening our rule of law. Through the initiative of this book, the PDHJ can provide another contribution in the specific area of fundamental rights”, affirmed the Provedor.

    The Provedor said that through the process of this book writting, the PDHJ can indeed ensure that this publication has a good quality. The Provedoria has known the three authors of this book as having specific study in the area of human rights as well as experiences in Timor-Leste. Dra. Carla is a lecturer for the master program of human rights at the Law Faculty of Coimbra University, supported in writting the Penal Code and the Penal Procedure Code as well as the Draft Code for the Rights of the Children in Timor-Leste. Dra. Rita supported the PDHJ in developing the human rights violation categories, worked for the Ministry of Justice in the area of traditional justice law, and, now, she is supporting the implementation of the rights to education in the Ministry of Education. Dra. Bárbara had been working with the legal system and the legal ordainment in Timor-Leste for 12 years. Besides the authors’ relevant technical knowledge and expriences, through the Human Rights Center of Coimbra University, this publication was subjected to a rigorous scientific revision by Professor Jónatas Machado and other professors from the Law Faculty of Coimbra University.

    The authors have their academic freedom to write their analysises and opinions. Of course, not all people will agree with the whole content of this book as it happens to any judicial doctrine in any country. The PDHJ’s intention, with this intiative, is to strengthen judicial perspective discussions as well as to strengthen critical analysis on our Law.

    This book is written in Portuguese, one of the official languages of  Timor-Leste. Whether we want to or not, this book must be written in one of the official languages. The Provedoria has chosen it to be written in Portuguse as the written versions of the laws are in Portuguese. Meanwhile, with the book written in Portuguese, the PDHJ also can share the its publication with other CPLP countries. This publication is also intended to serve as a bridge supporting the access for other legal doctrines written in Portuguese by other countries with the same civilian system as Timor-Leste.

    The Provedoria is aware that Portuguse is not the língua franca or the most spoken language in Timor-Leste. “Like the majority of the people in Timor-Leste, I’m also learning the Portuguese language. However, our reality in the legal area as well as the factor that the majority of the judicial actors has dominated the Poruguese language, has influenced us in deciding the book to be written in Portuguese. As Timor-Leste has two official languages, the PDHJ has been starting the translation of this book into the Tetum language.

    The copy-rights of this book are under the ownership of the Provedoria and Coimbra University Human Rights Center. We have agreed that this book must be freely accessed by everybody. The PDHJ will distribute some copies of this book in accordance with our financial limitations, however there will be electronic version provided at the PDHJ and Centro’s website. If other institutions, such as the Minitry of Justice, UNTL or the Courts, or any development program in the area of justice, need to print additional copies of this book for more access, the PDHJ and Centro are ready to facilitate or provide authorization for the printing.

    “In the opportunity of the opening ceremony, in the name of the PDHJ, first of all, I would  like to thank the authors for their intellectual efforts, and time spent apart from their work and daily lives to write this book. Mana Bárbara and Mana Rita, we thank you very much. Thanks also for the participation in this release event by providing a presentation on the book as well as the availability to answer the participants’ questions. Also I would like to thank the UNDP and the donors been envolved in the capacity building project for the Provedoria. We also thank the Coimbra University Human Rights Center, for coming to be with the Provedoria to ensure that Timor-Leste has the opportunity to possess a book especifically on the fundamental rights, and a publication with a free access to everybody.

    “I also want to thank the UNTL for the support given for the release of this book. Of course, we also thank the opportunity that all of us have with the participation of the Coordinating Minister for the State Administration and Justice Affairs, Dr. Dionísio Babo, and Dra. Maria Natércia representing the Court of Appeal.

    The authors of this book are Dra. Bárbara Nazareth Oliveira, Dra. Carla de Marcelino Gomes and Dra. Rita Páscoa dos Santos.

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