Subject: RMDH Submission to UN Commission of Inquiry

Rede Monitorizasaun Direitus Humanus (RMDH) Human Rights Monitoring Network[1]

Submission to the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste on the Security & Political Crisis in Timor-Leste

15 September 2006

Your Excellencies Commissioners,

Immediately after the events of 28-29 April 2006, when a four-day long protest by hundreds of sacked members of the Timorese Defence Force[2] (Falintil ­ Força da Defesa de Timor-Leste, Falintil-FDTL) and their sympathizers turned violent, which was followed by the deployment of Falintil-FDTL soldiers to where the protesters operated from, RMDH undertook a special investigation into possible human rights violations during the events. RMDH did not expect that after these incidents on 28-29 April, other events would occur the following month and effectively destroy the institutions which should have maintained law and order, and protected the people and State of Timor-Leste. Hence, we did not anticipate that the subsequent events would affect the 23 monitors of RMDH, and therefore, the data gathering process. Over the last three months, from June to August, several RMDH members have themselves become victims of the civil unrest and social conflict resulting from the continuing security crisis.

Consequently, RMDH’s original intention to produce a more comprehensive report can not be completed within the time frame of the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste. This submission, therefore, summarizes our major findings and conclusions, compiled from interviews with eyewitnesses, direct on-site observation, reviews of media reports, and reviews of past reports issued by member organizations of RMDH and other institutions.

I. Key incidents during April and May 2006

Events of 28-29 April 2006

The incident was sparked by the rioting that took place as a result of the handling of the last day of demonstrations in front of the Prime Minister’s office (Palacio do Governo, PG) by 591 former members of Falintil-FDTL and their sympathisers. The rioting later spread to several parts of Dili. The official toll was six dead,[3] around 30 wounded,[4] and about 10,000 people fled their homes in fear of their lives, or because their houses were burned down.

From our observations of how the security and law enforcement apparatus handled the riot, we highlight the following issues:

1. Police inadequate measures of crowd control

It was obvious that Police was ineffective in controlling the crowd when the protest turned into a riot. Such ineffectiveness can be attributed to ambiguity and conflicting orders and directions given by different superiors within the command structure of PNTL, building up since weeks before the protest started. On 19 April 2006, during a police parade in front of PNTL headquarters, the then Interior Minister Rogério Tiago Lobato stated that if the demonstrators engaged in any anarchic or criminal acts, the police should shoot them on the spot.[5] By contrast, in a letter dated 23 April 2006 addressed to all PNTL Districts and Unit commanders, Commissioner Paulo Fatima Martins stated that firing at the demonstrators is strictly prohibited. Indeed, the instruction from Paulo Fatima Martins is in conformity with the laws of Timor-Leste, but it is believed that Mr. Martins has been influenced by a promise of security from the leader of the demonstrators, 1st Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha.[6] Salsinha’s promise caused the police to relax their guard as the demonstration in front of the PG was ending. Some of the senior police officers trusted Mr. Salsinha and did not anticipate that the protest could turn violent and anarchic.

While the police commander had ordered all units of the PNTL UIR (Unidade Intervenção Rapida or Rapid Response Unit) to be on stand-by, members of the UIR deployed in front of the PG were not on full alert when violence broke out. In a panic situation, some police behaved in accordance with the PNTL commander’s orders, i.e. to use tear gas, use nightsticks, then fire into the air. Other police immediately fired guns at the demonstrators, provoking resistance from the crowd which resulted in the wounding of a policeman, Sub-Inspector Mauricio Freitas.[7] Eyewitness accounts said that Mauricio Freitas was among the PNTL members who fired shots into the crowd and wounded two demonstrators, Rui Caiero and Frederico Pereira.[8]

In the end, the crowd was able to be contained and pushed back to their concentration base in Tasitolu. However, as the protesters were being escorted along Comoro road, the superiors of PNTL were still unable to take adequate measures to bring more certainty into PNTL’s actions. As the protesters, escorted by the Contigente Geral of PNTL, reached Fatuhada (in front of the LANDMARK Supermarket), two UIR units emerged from behind the demonstrators and fired shots into the crowd, causing one dead and another one injured. An eyewitness told RMDH that after the shooting, a dispute broke out among the police, as some disagreed with the shooting.

Dualism in the police action continued when the mob reached Tasitolu area. According to witnesses, some of the police acted roughly. Some shot at the mob who were in the process of wrecking houses, while others just stood by and let the rioters vandalize properties. The influence of the Lorosae vs. Loromunu[9] issue was very apparent in the biased behaviour of the police at the time.

2. Intervention of Falintil-FDTL

As the demonstration got out of hand, the “Crisis Cabinet”[10] convened at the Residence of the Prime Minister at 15:30 on 28 April 2006 and decided to deploy Falintil-FDTL to assist with security. The deployment of Falintil-FDTL to assist police in restoring public order may be allowed by law[11]. However, it must be noted that the conditions for such deployment have not been fully elaborated. Moreover, this decision clearly did not take into account conflict of interest, since the institution and the leadership of the Falintil-FDTL were involved in the petitioners’ issue.

Several witnesses and victims reported that after the Falintil-FDTL began operations in Dili from 17:00 on 28 April to 30 April 2006, many ordinary Timorese and demonstrators were terrorized, tortured, or shot. This took place despite the official order from the Crisis Cabinet that the intervention of Falintil-FDTL should be strictly limited to securing the Palacio do Governo and helping the police arrest the petitioners so that they could be investigated. Once in the field, however, Falintil-FDTL members did not conduct operations in accordance with the Cabinet’s instructions, but rather gave the impression of taking revenge. The operation was not directed at capturing the rioters and petitioners to turn them over to the police for investigation. Instead, ordinary people became instead the targets of their brutal behaviour. For example, a check-point was placed in front of the new Presidential Palace in Lahane, with the aim of, according to the Cabinet’s instruction, preventing the petitioners from escaping from Dili. In practice, members of Falintil-FDTL who were deployed at that check-point went further, preventing everyone from leaving Dili toward the south on 29-30 April, including journalists.[12]

The incident of 8 May 2006

This incident took place in the District of Ermera, when crowds organised by several opposition party activists gathered in Gleno, the District Capital, to deliver a petition to the Secretary of State Coordinator for Region III, Egidio de Jesus. The petition called for a boycott of government’s activities in 10 districts. The delivery of the petition ended up in violence when a crowd of around 3,000 people surrounded government buildings, throwing rocks at the building and wrecking them. The crowd then took as hostage the Secretary of State, the District Administrator of Ermera, and six UIR police guards of the State Secretary. The hostage drama lasted for four hours (from 12:00 to 16:00). Efforts to release the hostages involved Parish Priest Adrian Ola, former resistance leader Ernesto Fernandes “Dudu”, and PNTL Chief of Operation Ismail Babo, but they were only able to rescue the two government officials and four of the police guards. Two other police guards were hacked by the mob. One of the guards, agent Palmiro da Costa, died, and another one was seriously wounded. Eventually UIR police reinforcements from Dili under Babo’s command were able to bring the situation under control by arresting 100 suspects.[13]

From the incident in Ermera, 8 May 2006, the following issues are highlighted:

1. Ermera District Police were not proactive

The police took no steps to prevent people who carry weapons (knives, swords and machetes) from joining the crowd who gathered around the Region III Secretary’s office to deliver the petition. According to an eyewitness, the crowd included some residents of Dili who had fled to Gleno, claiming to be victims of the arbitrary actions of Falintil-FDTL and a group of PNTL police on 28-29 April. Only after the situation became tense and the officials and six guards had been taken hostage, did the Ermera police Commander ask for reinforcements from Dili. When the UIR reinforcement under the command of Ismail Babo arrived at the scene, little could be done to avert the tension. The mass was already in control of the situation

2. A non-functioning intelligence apparatus

After the incidents of 28-29 April 2006, Gleno became a focal point for those who were angry and disappointed at the Falintil-FDTL and PNTL members from Lorosae. The reason was that the public believed that Falintil-FDTL and PNTL from Lorosae were responsible for the pursuit and armed attack on them in Dili on 28-29 April. There are those who still suffer from wounds as a result of the actions of the Falintil-FDTL and the PNTL on 28-29 April.

This situation was clearly not considered by the command structure of PNTL, specifically the UIR commander, in deciding to send UIR personnel to escort the Secretary of State in his visit to Gleno. Weak intelligence work prevented the PNTL from anticipating that the crowd which gathered at the State Secretary’s office intended to do more that just deliver a political petition. The incident that killed one member of PNTL and severely wounded another, both happening to be from the eastern part of the country, further sharpened and complicated the Lorosae - Loromonu divide.

The incident of 23 May 2006

This particular incident occurred in Fatuahi, east of Dili, involving armed conflict between an armed group under the command of Maj. Alfredo Reinado and Falintil-FDTL personnel under the command of the Col. Lere Anan Timur. In this incident members of the PNTL were reported to be involved on both sides (Reinado and Lere). The fight resulted in two fatalities and two wounded on Reinado’s side, while on Timur’s side, three of his personnel died and seven sustained injuries from gunfire.

Information collected by RMDH on the incident in Fatuahi shows that the clash resulted from a mixture of several unaddressed issues which can be described as follows:

1. Half-hearted law enforcement

For a long time, there have been problems between groups in Fatuahi. Since around 2000, there have been fights between two rival groups, respectively under the leadership of Alito “Rambo” and Jacinto “Kulao”. There was no consistent law enforcement to deal with this conflict. Alito “Rambo” and Jacinto “Kulao” have been arrested several times by the police, and after their release they repeatedly continued with their ‘conflict’.

This continuing conflict has shown the face of half-hearted law-enforcement in Timor-Leste towards criminals, which then became transformed into a conflict with political implications. These groups, which had their basis in criminality, were then changed and transformed into political groups. In the map of political conflict in Fatuahi, Alito Rambo’s group has since identified with Lorosae community while Jacinto Kulao’s group has been seen to represent the political interests of the original inhabitants of Fatuahi or Kulao. These two individuals have been able to evade the law because they have been ‘facilitated’ by several parties within the police apparatus with geographical ties to each of them.

A day before the shooting incident on 23 May, a clash had occurred between these two groups which resulted in four deaths. At that time, a group of URP personnel (Police Reserve Unit) has already established a base around the area of Kulao (at the top of Fatuahi hill). During the clashes, several Falintil-FDTL personnel were involved in firing shots at Fatuahi youths. The village chief of Fatuahi had also seen several Falintil-FDTL personnel providing support to Alito Rambo’s group, wherein the village chief requested the support of Maj. Alfredo to provide protection for the youths of Fatuahi and Kulao.

2. Failure to resolve conflicts within the institution of the Falintil-FDTL

The shooting incidents have shown very clearly that there is an open conflict between Falintil-FDTL and the PNTL, and the failure of nonviolent conflict resolution efforts by President Xanana Gusmão and other parties. The conflict within the Falintil-FDTL was sparked by the alleged discrimination which was highlighted by the petitioners in their protests. There were no signs of a resolution which can be agreed by all parties of the conflict. There was no political will on the part of the authorities to resolve these problems, resulted in the use of violence as a means to resolve the problem.

The incidents of 24 May 2006

On the 24th of May, there were two major incidents; the first involved an attack on the residence of the Falintil-FDTL Commander Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak in Lahane and the exchange of fire between Falintil-FDTL and some members of PNTL (specifically from the district of Liquiça) around Falintil-FDTL Headquarters at Tasitolu. This was followed by the emergence of the Fretilin Secret Security Team lead by Vicente da Conceicão alias “Railos.”

The attack on Commander Taur’s residence involved a group of PNTL personnel under the command of the deputy PNTL commander of Dili district, Sub-Inspector Abilio Mesquita alias “Mausoko.” During the attack, there was a child below the age of five, being guarded by a total of ten Falintil-FDTL personnel.[14] The casualties were one dead on each side. From Abilio “Mausoko” camp, Mario Alves Martins alias “Ano-Meta”, a PNTL personnel who had recently graduated, was killed, and on the side of Falintil-FDTL personnel guarding the residence of Commander Taur, Damiao Silva alias “Moko.”

At the incident in Tasitolu-Tibar, a combined group of armed personnel (civilians and PNTL) coming from the west (Tibar, Liquiça) attacked the Falintil-FDTL headquarters in Tasitolu. Shots continued throughout the day. Captain Domingos de Oliveira alias “Kaikeri” was killed during the clash, and two other Falintil-FDTL personnel were injured. From the other side, seven people were killed and seven injured.

The following issues are identified in the armed friction in Tasitolu ­ Tibar:

1. The PNTL did not carry out its duties and functions

It can be seen very clearly that PNTL personnel were involved in both incidents on 24 May. This is a great deviation from their standard of professionalism as part of a government institution mandated to maintain law and order and guarantee public safety in an impartial manner. In fact, they acted against the safety of the people and the defence of the state. It is unclear as to the motivation of their action or for whose interests they were acting. However, it is a serious violation that they had attacked members and a state institution, Falintil-FDTL.

No clear effort was made on the part of the PNTL’s command or from the government’s institution in charge of PNTL to deter or to stop the attacks, thus the PNTL should solely be responsible for both the incidents. However, there are also suspicions that political and government leaders were behind the actions of these PNTL personnel.

2. Fatal mistake in arming civilians

Specifically for the shooting incidents in the area of Tibar-Tasitolu, it was clear that firearms were illegally possessed and used by civilians against Falintil-FDTL. The fact that PNTL weapons were in possession of Railos’s group and other groups (such as Labadian’s in Railoko, Ermera district) are evidence that civilians were being armed by certain quarters within the PNTL and the government. This is a fatal mistake, because it is not only against the law, but it is an action which can also lead to civil war. There are reports that armed civilians have been threatening peace and security in several locations. On the other hand, there has also been information that the families of those in possession of weapons have been constantly harassed by people within their community, fearing for their lives to the extent that they have been forced to move from one place to another. To date, neither the civilians who were (or are) illegally possessing firearms nor those who armed them have been held to account.

The incidents of 25 May 2006

The incidents on 25 May 2006 seemed to have been an act of retaliation from Falintil-FDTL against PNTL. On the morning of 25 May, three PNTL personnel from the CSP (Personal Security Corps) were disarmed at the Belak Fuel petrol kiosk in Comoro by a group of Falintil-FDTL personnel and some PNTL members from Baucau’s Task Force Unit. At around 8:00 am at the same place, shots were fired at a PNTL patrol vehicle on its way from Comoro towards the city by Falintil-FDTL personnel in a white Mitsubishi Pajero. In this incident a policeman named Domingos sustained injuries to both legs.

At around 10:00 am, a group of civilian youths armed with sharp objects, together with several Falintil-FDTL personnel, attacked a house belonging to the family of Rogério Tiago Lobato (the then Interior Minister) and set the house on fire with its inhabitants, a mother with her four children, still inside. Moments later, the residence of the PNTL’s operational commander, Ismail Babo, was burned down by an unidentified group. At the height of it all, between 11:00 and 14:00, was an attack on the headquarters of the PNTL by Falintil-FDTL personnel together with armed civilians. This attack was, however, stopped after negotiations carried out by UNPOL personnel. Tragically, around 300 unarmed PNTL personnel who were walking towards the UNOTIL office (including several PNTL suspects) were fired upon, killing 8 and injuring 49 others.

Information obtained by RMDH indicated the following:

1. The Command of Falintil-FDTL is responsible for the attack on PNTL

The series of incidents on 25 May show that the attacks by members of Falintil-FDTL were not spontaneous and sporadic. RMDH believes that those actions were clearly planned and with the consent of, if not ordered by, the command of Falintil-FDTL. RMDH also believes that some officers within the PNTL command structure consented to the plan. Several witness accounts, such as those of Sub-Inspector Angelo Quelo, Sub-Inspector Clara dos Santos, and Delfina da Silva Mesquita from the PNTL, said that a day before the attack, the PNTL’s Deputy Commander for Administration and Finance, Inspector Lino Saldanha, told them by telephone that he and several other PNTL members will attack the PNTL headquarters with personnel from Falintil-FDTL.

The duration of the attack shows a sustained attack from the part of Falintil-FDTL, indicating the involvement of the higher command structure of Falintil-FDTL. After fierce exchange of fire between the attacking personnel of Falintil-FDTL and the PNTL members defending their headquarters, a ceasefire was agreed, with mediation from United Nations Police (UNPOL) personnel. As part of the ceasefire, it was agreed that PNTL members would lay down their weapon and be transferred to the UN headquarters under the escort of UNPOL. Tragically, however, members of Falintil-FDTL opened fire on the unarmed PNTL members who were marching towards Obrigado Barracks (UNOTIL headquarters). This is a serious breach of both national and international laws. This shows that the commander of Falintil-FDTL, Brig. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak, was not consistent with the agreement of ceasefire. The death of Falintil-FDTL personnel during previous armed clashes cannot be used as justification for this act. Indeed, RMDH believes that this act is by no means justifiable. Therefore, members of Falintil-FDTL involved in the attack, and the commander of Falintil-FDTL, must be held responsible.

2. Betrayal of the institution by members of PNTL

It was reported that some senior officials of PNTL were involved in the attack on the PNTL headquarters. Eyewitness accounts said that Inspector Lino Saldanha, Inspector Armando Monteiro (Commander of UIR), Inspector Jose Neto Mok (Intelligence Chief of PNTL), and Inspector Mateus Fernandes, were seen at the headquarters of the Military Police before the attack and were involved in the attack on PNTL headquarters. This an exceedingly irresponsible act and a betrayal of the institution these officers are responsible to care for and defend.

3. Involvement of armed civilians by Falintil-FDTL in armed conflict

Om addition to the attack on the house of Rogério Tiago Lobato’s family where armed civilians and members of Falintil-FDTL were involved, RMDH monitors also recorded the involvement of civilians in the attack on PNTL headquarters. A day after the attack on PNTL headquarters, a group of armed civilians under the command of Frederio Florindo alias ‘Kiak’, a Falintil veteran, were also seen chasing PNTL members seeking safety at UNOTIL headquarters. This shows that Falintil-FDTL was involved in distributing firearms to civilians, and dragging them into the armed conflict. This is serious breach of the laws of Timor-Leste, and the argument that PNTL had already distributed firearms to civilians cannot be used as justification. Therefore, the Command of Falintil-FDTL and those involved in the distribution of arms to civilians must be held responsible.

II. Causes of the Crisis

Violent incidents during April and May 2006 were an accumulation of various problems over the last five years, and a result of the weakness of the institutions mandated to address these problems. The incidents resulted in the destruction of the state security and law enforcement institutions. In a period of only one month, years of investment and resources went to waste.

RMDH maintains that the destruction of the institution responsible for the safety and security of the people and the state can be attributed to the following causes:

1. Lack of Professionalism

The lack of professionalism of PNTL is not the only factor responsible for the breakdown of security at the end of the petitioners’ protests in April. Gaps in their skills and the ability for self-control among the PNTL members had been identified repeatedly and needed to be improved. Any effort to improve the skills of PNTL, however, cannot guarantee that the current situation will not reoccur if there is no fundamental change in the perceptions, attitudes and treatment by government and state officials towards PNTL.

Facts show that certain politicians and government officials, in their dealings with PNTL, do not place the interest of the nation above their personal, group or party interests. For example, since its formation, there has been competition and conflicts between different factions, driven by group vested interests. The prominent conflicting groups within PNTL are identified as the former members of POLRI (Kepolisian Republik Indonesia ­ Indonesian National Police) and the former members of underground resistance movement (clandestinos).[15]

When Rogério Tiago Lobato was appointed Minister of Interior ­ in charge of PNTL, a new faction emerged within PNTL that further exacerbated the pre-existing conflict. Mr. Lobato changed the rules and procedures for the recruitment of new Police cadets, giving more opportunity for Falintil veterans to become members of PNTL. In addition to the three factions, another faction is comprised of PNTL members who are currently studying or have graduated from Indonesian universities. The latter is further divided into different factions based on which martial art group individual members of PNTL belong to.

Evidences show that such factionalism has a strong influence in the conduct of PNTL members in carrying out their law enforcement duties. For example, suspects who belong to the same martial art group as PNTL members often receive special treatment when they are caught in criminal acts.

It seemed that when Mr. Lobato was first put in charge of the PNTL, he tried to use the Falintil veterans in PNTL for his economic and political interests, without much success. The veterans organised themselves and called themselves ‘PNTL Nationalists’, to claim legitimacy vis-à-vis the other factions, for having been part of the armed resistance.[16] Factional competition within PNTL led to open conflict in 2004, which led President Xanana Gusmão to hold a National Dialogue to try to solve the conflict. The National Dialogue, however, did not bring much result. Under the surface, the conflict continues. The so-called PNTL Nationalists continue to harass the PNTL superior command, which was mainly dominated by former POLRI and other factions. As he lost control of the Nationalists, Mr. Lobato turned the third faction, the University students and graduates, to look out for his interests.[17]

Mr. Rogério Lobato also often used the PNTL members who are loyal to him to intimidate and crush his political rivals. For example, in 2005 Mr. Lobato ordered UIR members from Dili to arrest members of CPD-RDTL[18] in Suai. Another example is his order to PNTL not to arrest the person responsible for the destruction of UNDERTIM’s[19] branch office in Bucoli, Baucau (2005), the person responsible for the disruption of the party’s meeting in Uatolari, Viqueque (2004). In 2003, Mr. Lobato ordered the police to arrest a certain Americo, the owner of Suai Indah Company, for asking Mr. Lobato to pay back his money which he had lent to Mr. Lobato.

Occasionally, the higher-level command of PNTL opposes Mr. Lobato’s misuse of the PNTL. However, this does not bring much change into the way PNTL is managed under Mr. Lobato. Instead, Mr. Paulo Fatima Martins, the Commissioner of PNTL, was once suspended for one month for disagreeing with Mr. Lobato on the measures to take regarding the Church-led demonstration in April 2005. In 2002, a female member of PNTL who refused to take orders from Mr. Lobato’s wife was put under detention, and alleged to be the daughter of a former member of pro-Indonesian militia.

In sharp contrast to the situation with PNTL where the Minister interferes deeply into the daily affairs of the police, Falintil-FDTL faced a situation of neglect. The Minister of Defense, who was responsible for Falintil-FDTL, did not pay much attention to the development of the institution. This hampered the institution from addressing issues left over from the time of resistance, problems during UNTAET period, and new problems which have arisen after independence. Such neglect also hampered the institution from developing its capacity to carry out professional national defence duties, and created room for new problems, such as favouritism, to arise within Falintil-FDTL. The allegation of discrimination made public by the petitioners represents a multi-dimensional issue which exists in Falintil-FDTL.

Several insiders’ accounts said that since the time of resistance, there has always been an attitude of superiority on the part of Lorosae Falintil commanders towards their Loromonu subordinates. This attitude seems to have influenced the recruitment process of Falintil-FDTL in Aileu in 2001. There are allegations that several Falintil commanders from Loromonu, such as Ernesto “Dudu” and “Samba-Sembilan,” were sidelined during the recruitment to form the new defence force. This issue came to the fore in relation to the dismissal of 42 members of Falintil-FDTL on 23 December 2003. At that time, the Falintil-FDTL members who were dismissed brought their case to various authorities, including the Parliament. However, no measures were taken to address their dissatisfaction, neither from the Parliament nor from the Ministry of Defence.

In comparison with PNTL, Falintil-FDTL has received far less attention. In terms of infrastructure for capacity and institutional development, Falintil-FDTL depends mainly on bilateral cooperation. The UN Missions in Timor-Leste spent more of their resources on PNTL. Similarly, the Government of Timor-Leste allocates more funding to equip PNTL or to finance other projects within the Ministry of Interior, compared to the Ministry of Defence. This clearly reflects the lack of initiative on the part of the Ministry of Defence, but also indicates lack of attention from the Government. Sources revealed that funds allocated for the development of the naval component of Falintil-FDTL in 2004-2005 were used to purchase illegal weapons by certain government officials.

The lack of attention to the development of Falintil-FDTL was probably caused by the absence of an overarching national defence policy, within which the roles and responsibilities of Defence Force is supposed to be defined. The lack of civilian participation in the Defence Study Group “2020” chaired by Lt. Col. Pedro ‘Klamar-Fuik’ is an indicative of lack of interest on the part of the politicians and policy makers in defence matters. There is an impression that defence is narrowly understood as having soldiers with weapons and uniforms, excluding other aspects of defence, including such matters which will bind the nation together in the event of extreme political disagreement.

2. Lack of Policy for Veterans

Since independence, voices have been raised advocating that the interests and welfare of the veterans be addressed. Since 2002, President Xanana Gusmão has established two commissions identify veterans of Falintil and former combatants. The commissions concluded their work and submitted a report to the National Parliament, which should develop policies to address veterans issues. However, only this year the Parliament promulgated the law which will guide the government to formulate policies and programs for veterans. The slowness in addressing veterans’ issues caused frustration on the part of the veterans, who felt that, although they have dedicated their whole lives to the struggle, they are being neglected in the independent Timor-Leste. For those who remain in the Falintil-FDTL, the lack of social provisions had meant the defence is the only place where they can earn living. Moreover, in connection to defence and security matters, there seems to be a sense of duty on the part of the veterans. There seems to be a sentiment of veterans’ superiority in defence of the nation, as it has been proven during the twenty-four years of struggle.

3. Ineffective Law Enforcement: culture of impunity

The ineffectiveness of the justice system meant that many violations of the law, committed by both members of PNTL and Falintil-FDTL, were not prosecuted. This situation provided no deterrence to members of Falintil-FDTL and PNTL from committing criminal acts. Various incidents where crimes were committed, involving members of Falintil-FDTL and PNTL, have been brought to court. However, the persons responsible have been brought to justice in only a few cases. Among the major open incidents are, for example, the armed attack by members of 1st Battalion of Falintil-FDTL on the District PNTL headquarters in Lospalos in 2004, attack on the Dili District PNTL headquarters, and illegal logging of sandalwood in Baucau by Falintil-FDTL officers.

A parliamentary commission was established to investigate the Lospalos case. The results of the investigation were never made public, and the recommendations were never implemented. No prosecutorial measures were taken in relation to the case. On the attack to the Dili PNTL headquarters, although no criminal investigation and prosecution was carried out, the officer responsible for the attack was dismissed from Falintil-FDTL.

Various acts of crime involving members of PNTL, including misuse and excessive use of force, have been reported. In many cases, while there were clear indications of crime, they were referred to the Office of Professional Ethics of PNTL, which did little even to discipline the PNTL members who committed the offences. For example, early this year, allegations were made against the Deputy Commander of Liquiça District PNTL, Sub-inspector Abilio Mesquita, for arbitrarily killing people’s livestock. The PNTL command did not even take disciplinary measures against Mr. Mesquita. Last year, the then Minister of Interior, Rogério Tiago Lobato, bit a civilian who was in a public transport cutting off the minister’s vehicle when he was on his way to work. The case was brought to court, but the prosecution was under pressure not to proceed with the case. Two international prosecutors who were handling the case were threatened and forced to leave Timor-Leste. The case has been followed up by the prosecution only after Mr. Lobato was unseated in relation to the illegal distribution of firearms.

The culture of impunity and lack of respect of the rule of law resulted in the events of April and May this year, where the members of law enforcement institutions and the guarantor of public safety committed series of acts in breach of the law.

III. Recommendations

Based on the above analyses, we recommend the following:

1. Those responsible for the events of April-May 2006, civilian, police and military, be held to account. Given the current state of the Timorese judiciary, the international community must provide assistance to ensure that a proper investigation and prosecution into the cases that occurred during April-May can be carried out. Such assistance could take the form of mixed panels of international and national judges, and the deployment of international prosecutors to support the prosecution service of Timor-Leste.

2. That members of both Falintil-FDTL and PNTL at all levels, whose criminal responsibilities in connection to the April-May events have been established and proven, be dismissed from their respective institutions.

3. That the Timor-Leste Government develop a national policy on defence, where the roles and responsibilities of relevant agencies, including Falintil-FDTL and PNTL, are clearly defined.

4. That the capacity of the institution of PNTL be strengthened so that it can carry out its law enforcement functions effectively and guarantee public safety in a professional manner.

5. That processes be established within Falintil-FDTL and PNTL, with adequate public oversight, to address disciplinary issues involving members of the institutions.

6. That a police oversight committee be established, with the involvement of civil society, to oversee the conduct of PNTL in carrying out its functions.


Rede Monitorizasaun Direitus Humanus R M D H Network for Human Rights Monitoring

Secretariat: Office of Association HAK Gov. Serpa Rosa Street, Farol, Dili Phone + 670 3 313323, Fax +670 3313324

Members: HAK, Fokupers, JSMP, Alola Foundation, ETWAVE, FFSO, FTM, KSTL, LABEH, Movimentu Estudante Universitariu



[1] RMDH is a network of East Timorese Non-Governmental Organizations and individual human rights activists with the objective to conduct coordinated monitoring of human rights situation in Timor-Leste.

[2] Usually referred to as petitioners.

[3] Persons reported dead during 28-29 April are: 1) Rui Caiero, Male, 22 years old; 2) Marcelino Soares, M, 25; 3) Fernanda Borges, F; 4) Jose Castro, M; 5) Leandro de Jesus Pereira, M, 27; and 6) Carlos Araùjo alias Zebra, M, 29.

[4] According to the record from Guido Valadares National Hospital on 30 April 2006, 21 people were hospitalized, the rest were not taken to the hospital.

[5] See Diario Tempo, 20 April 2006.

[6] The Commander of PNTL and the leader of the petitioners held a joint press conference on Saturday, 22 April 2006 (TP 24/4). At the press conference, 1st Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha told the public that the demonstration will be conducted peacefully, and that he guarantees security by controlling and disciplining his members, while PNTL will prevent disturbances by other parties.

[7] Mauricio Freitas was the Deputy Commander for Baucau District PNTL. It is said that his presence in front of the Palacio was not with the knowledge of the General Command of PNTL. The General Command of PNTL had indeed requested each district to send 15 personnel to secure the demonstration, but that did not include districts senior officers such as Sub-Inspector Mauricio Freitas.

[8] Rui Caeiro died on his way to the hospital. Frederico Pereira died on 15 May as a result of his wounds.

[9] Lorosae means East, referring to three Districts on the eastern part of Timor-Leste, Baucau, Viqueque and Lautem, where people are thought to be more extroverted and tough; Loromonu means West, referring to Districts located on the Western part of the country, where the people are stereotyped with their introverted, non-aggressive but revengeful attitudes.

[10] According to Decree Law No. 7/2004, the Crisis Cabinet “... is the inter-ministerial organ with authority to declare the state of crisis and catastrophe or public disaster situations, who defines the extent of intervention by the Falintil ­ FDTL.” The Crisis Cabinet is chaired by the Prime Minister, and has as its members the Vice Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Interior, the Commander of Falintil ­ FDTL, and the Commander of PNTL.

[11] See Decree Law No. 7/2004 on the Structure of Falintil-FDTL

[12] According to the Report for the Commander of Falintil-FDTL to Parliament on 15 May 2006, during the operation of 28-29 April F-FDTL used 550 bullets and two hand grenades, and killed only two people.

[13] See Suara Timor Lorosae and Timor Post, 9 May 2006

[14] The number of guards was raised to twenty the following day.

[15] The former POLRI faction is represented by commissioner Paulo Fatima Martins, while the clandestinos are represented by David Dias Ximenes (former coordinator of CNRT’s internal Political Front). The conflict reached its height in 2002 when, on one occasion, the two were involved in a physical fight.

[16] At that time, there were allegations that this group had started to spread the issue of Lorosae ­ Loromunu within PNTL, as this group was dominated by PNTL members from Lorosae.

[17] The influential person in this group is Inspector Ismail Babo, the Deputy PNTL Commander for Operations.

[18] Comissão para a Defesa da República Democrática de Timor-Leste, a political group advocating the full restoration of the Republic which declared independence in 1975.

[19] UNDERTIM, União Democrática da Resistência Timorense, a new political party, founded and chaired by the former Falintil commander of Region 3, Mr. Cornelio Gama, alias L-7.


Charles Scheiner P.O. Box 1182, White Plains, NY 10602 USA Tel. +1-914-831-1098 or +1-914-473-3185 (mobile) email: skype: cscheiner La'o Hamutuk - Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis 

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