Subject: LUSA: PM slams branding of immigration bill as 'unconstitutional'

01-07-2003 13:07:00. Notícia nº SIR-5189992 Temas: new destaque2

East Timor: PM slams branding of immigration bill as 'unconstitutional'

Dili, July 1 (Lusa) - East Timor`s prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, criticized Tuesday the earlier pronouncement by Dili's Court of Appeal that a draft immigration and asylum bill is unconstitutional.

The Appeal Court ruled Monday that parts of the draft bill which limit political rights for foreign citizens in Timor are "unconstitutional".

Alkatiri said the court's decision was "unprofessional" and not within "the spirit of the law". He added the court had been subjected to "outside pressures".

Dili`s head of government pledged that "not a comma will be changed in the bill" and said the legislation would receive more than the necessary two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party holds 55 of the 88 seats in the Dili Assembly and the bill`s approval appears to be a fait accompli.

However, most oppositionists Lusa spoke to welcomed the Appeal Court`s decision as "justification" for ongoing harsh criticism of the bill in parliament.

Timor`s most prominent legal watchdog, Judicial System Monitoring Program, said it applauded the court's report on the draft legislation, which in addition to being unconstitutional, "violates several international conventions signed by Timor".

ASP/CJB -Lusa-

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