Thursday, 5 March 2009

Defamation Case against Tempo Semanal: Lao Hamutuk

Tetum kraik.
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Statement from La'o Hamutuk
4 March 2009

At present, Minister Lucia Lobato has charged journalist Jose Belo because his newspaper, Tempo Semanal, has published allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Justice. Based on reports in Tempo Semanal, Lucia Lobato brought a case to the Prosecutor against Tempo Semanal because, according to her, Tempo Semanal has defamed her privacy and journalist Jose Belo has violated the journalism code of ethics. La’o Hamutuk is concerned that this process will damage democracy in Timor-Leste.

The Indonesian Penal Code (KUHP/Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana), which Timor-Leste is still using, dates from the Dutch colonial rule over Indonesia, when it was used to defend the monarch in the Netherlands by criminalizing colonial subjects who spoke out against the Dutch government. After Indonesia became independent, Suharto’s New Order dictatorship punished many people using the defamation articles in the Penal Code.

Articles 310-321 of the Indonesian Penal Code Indonesia (KUHP) should no longer be applied in democratic Timor-Leste, a state governed under the rule of law, because they restrict freedom of the press and violate UN conventions Timor-Leste has ratified, including the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). UNTAET tried to remove these defamation articles from the Penal Code, but they were unsuccessful because they used an executive order. However, according to legal hierarchy, they should have used a regulation, which had the same level as law. Timor-Leste’s judicial system has begun a new phase, when these articles are used only to help powerful people threaten other citizens, or to keep them quiet about wrongdoings committed by the powerful. Practices like this will create huge injustice in Timor-Leste.

Justice Minister Lucia Lobato’s accusation against journalist Jose Belo, as director of the newspaper Tempo Semanal, creates an ugly picture which can kill freedom of an independent and impartial press. The media will be afraid to circulate clear and accurate information when they know that such information will bring down threats against them.

We believe that everyone should comply with the law, and that the information published in Tempo Semanal is evidence that the Prosecutor General should use to open an investigation about alleged corruption in the Ministry of Justice. But in reality, the Prosecutor is investigating Jose Belo, accusing him of defamation. La’o Hamutuk sees this reversal as criminalization of a free press which provides true and factual information to the public.

RDTL Constitution Article 41.4 “Freedom of the press and mass media” says that “The State shall guarantee the freedom and independence of the public mass media from political and economic powers.” Actions like the one confronting Tempo Semanal can also happen to other media and organizations if publishing is considered as a crime. This is a big threat to social justice in Timor-Leste.

La’o Hamutuk believes that to strengthen the rule of law, everyone should be treated equally by the justice system. This is an important step in developing our judicial process, and for everybody’s human rights and access to information. Our nation’s goals will not be achieved when judicial processes are used to defend only people with power.

La’o Hamutuk asks:

  1. The Prosecutor General to cancel the defamation case against Tempo Semanal immediately.
  2. Lucia Lobato to stop the defamation accusation before the court.
  3. National Parliament to rapidly revoke the Indonesian criminal defamation law, and not include it in the new Penal Code. When a person defames someone else, only a civil process should be used.
  4. All parts of government, and everyone, to respect the freedom, independence and impartiality of the press, as is guaranteed by the RDTL Constitution.
  5. National Parliament, with its legislative powers, to quickly debate the Media Law, to guarantee that the press can do their work without interference from anyone, and to end the use of power to criminalize journalists.
  6. The Prosecutor General also to investigate Lucia Lobato, starting with the evidence which was published in Tempo Semanal. Lucia Lobato, as Minister of Justice, has an important responsibility for the judicial system, and she should give a good example by cooperating with the judicial process.
  7. Civil society, including media, NGOs, the church and all citizens should encourage Timor-Leste, as a democratic state under law whose people have achieved independence, needs accurate information, and should support journalists’ right to conduct investigations and publish what they find.

La’o Hamutuk is a civil society organization which has been monitoring and analyzing development in Timor-Leste since 2000. We believe that it is very important for everyone to understand and participate in all development processes in this country, and that the processes must be democratic, transparent and accountable. Although La’o Hamutuk does not specifically monitor the judicial system in Timor-Leste, we are worried by this alleged defamation case and we try to defend the democratic rule of law, and to distribute information and conduct advocacy to protect the rights of all of Timor-Leste’s people.

From Adino Nunes Cabral, SH

Researcher, Governance and Democracy, La’o Hamutuk



Statementu husi La'o Hamutuk
4 Marsu 2009

Agora dadaun, Dra. Lucia Lobato halo akujasaun ba Jornalista Jose Belo tanba liu husi publikasaun Tempo Semanal ne’ebe hateten katak iha alegasaun korupsaun iha Ministeriu Justisa. Bazeia ba notisia husi Jornal Tempo Semanal, Dra. Lucia hatama ona keixa ba Ministerio Publiku hasoru jornal Tempo Semanal tanba tuir nia, jornal Tempo Semanal halo ona defamasaun ba ninia privasidade no katak jornalista Jose Belo kontra ona kode etiku jurnalismu ninian. La’o Hamutuk preokupa katak prosesu ida ne’e bele estraga demokrasia iha Timor-Leste.

Codigu Penal Indonesia (KUHP/Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana) ne’ebe agora dadaun Timor Leste sei uja hela hanesan direitu positivu mai husi kolonialismu Nederland ne’ebe durante ukun Indonesia, uja hodi defende absoluta monarkia hodi kriminaliza ema rai nain sira (pribumi) ne’ebe kolia kontra governu Nederland. To’o Indonesia ukun an, iha tempo Orde Baru ema barak mak hetan kastigu tanba deit ho artigu kona ba defamasaun iha Codigu Penal refere.

Codigu Penal Indonesia (KUHP) Artigu 310-321 la relevante atu utiliza nafatin ba prosesu demokrasia iha Timor-Leste, nudar Estadu Direitu tanba estraga liberdade imprensa no viola konvensaun ONU ne’ebe Timor-Leste ratifika tiha ona, inklui Konvensaun Internasional kona ba Direitu Politiku no Sivil (ICCPR). Iha tempu UNTAET mosu ona esforsu legal atu elimina artigu hirak kona ba defamasaun iha Codigu Penal refere, maibe la realiza tanba sira uza “ executive order” maibe, atu tuir heirarkia legal, tenke uza regulasaun ho nivel egual ho lei. Iha sistema judisial Timor-Leste nian sei hamosu istoria foun katak artigu hirak ne’e atu fasilita deit ba ema ne’ebe mak iha poder hodi ameasa sidadaun balu, ou atu halo sira nonok ba buat ruma sala ema ne’ebe mak iha poder halo. Praktiku hanesan ne’e sei hamosu injustisa boot iha Timor-Leste.

Akujasaun defamasaun husi Ministra Justisa Lucia Lobato ba jornalista Jose Belo nudar Direktur Jornal Tempo Semanal hanesan imajen a’at ida hodi hamate liberdade imprensa atu independente no imparsial. Imprensa sei tauk atu hasai informasaun nebe los no klaru wainhira sira hatene katak informasaun sira nee sei sai fali ameasa ba sira.

Ami fiar katak ema hotu tenki kumpri lei, tanbe nee bazeia ba informasaun ne’ebe publika iha Jornal Tempo Semanal sai hanesan evidensia atu Ministeriu Publiku (Prokurador Jeral) halo investigasaun kona ba alegasaun korupsaun iha Ministeriu Justisa. Maibe realidade hatudu katak Prokurador Jeral halo fali investigasaun ba Sr. Jose Belo ne’ebe sai hanesan suspeitu ba defamasaun. La’o Hamutuk hare hahalok ida ne’e hanesan kriminalizasaun ba imprensa livre hodi fo informasaun los no faktus ba publiku.

Konstituisan RDTL Artigu 41.4 kona ba “liberdade imprensa no komunikasaun sosial ninian” hateten katak “Estadu hametin liberdade no independénsia ba órgaun públiku kona-ba komunikasaun sosiál, husi podér polítiku no podér ekonómiku.” Akontesementu ne’ebe Jornal Tempo Semanal infrenta sei mosu mos ba imprensa no orgaun seluk se hahalok atu halo publikasaun konsidera hanesan krimi. Ida ne’e ameasa boot ba justisa sosial iha Timor-Leste.

La’o Hamutuk fiar katak atu hametin Estadu Direitu Demokratiku, ema hot-hotu tenki iha tratamentu judicial ne’ebe hanesan. Ida ne’e mak sai pasu importante ba prosesu dezenvolvimentu judisial, no ba direitu humanus no asesu ba informasaun ba ema hotu. Objektivu nasaun nian sei la realiza bainhira prosesu judisial atu defende deit ba ema ne’ebe mak iha poder.

La’o Hamutuk husu:

  1. Prokurador Jeral kansela lalais kazu defamasaun kontra Tempo Semanal.
  2. Dra. Lucia Lobato atu hapara akujasaun defamasaun ba Tribunal.
  3. Parlamentu bele revoka lalais lei Indonesia nian kona ba krime defamasaun, no la hatama iha Codigo Penal foun. Bainhira ema ida halo defamasaun kontra ema seluk, bele uza prosesu civil deit.
  4. Orgaun soberanu tomak liu-liu governu, no ema hotu, tenke respeita liberdade, independensia no imparsialidade imprensa ne’ebe hateten klaru iha konstituisaun RDTL.
  5. Parlamentu Nasional ne’ebe iha kompetensia ba Prosesu legislasaun atu halo debate lalais ba Lei Komunikasun Sosial hodi garantia katak imprensa bele halo sira nia knaar la ho interferensia husi ema seluk, atu hamenus uza poder hodi halo kriminalizasaun ba jornalista sira.
  6. Prokurador Jeral atu halo mos investigasaun ba Dra. Lucia Lobato hahu ho evidensia ne’ebe publika sai husi Jornal Tempo Semanal. Dra. Lucia Lobato nudar Ministra Justisa ne’ebe kaer papel importante mos ba sistema Judisial atu fo ezemplo hodi kolabora diak ho prosesu judicial.
  7. Sosiedade sivil, inklui imprensa, ONG sira, igreja no sidadaun hotu bele enkoraje katak Timor-Leste, hanesan Estadu Direitu Demokratiku, no povo hetan ona independensia, presiza informasaun los no apoio jornalists sira nia direitu atu halo investigasaun no publika saida mak sira hetan.

La’o Hamutuk hanesan organizasaun sosiedade sivil ne’ebe halao monitorizasaun no analiza ba dezenvolvimento iha Timor Leste desde tinan 2000. Ami fiar katak importante teb-tebes atu ema hotu bele komprende no partisipa iha prosesu dezenvolvimentu hotu iha rai ida ne’e no prosesu ida ne’e tenki demokratiku, transparente no iha akuntabilidade. Maski La’o Hamutuk la halo monitorizasaun espesifiku ba sistema judicial iha Timor-Leste, maibe ami preokupa ho kazu alegasaun defamasaun nee no ami koko defende Estadu Direitu Demokratiku iha rai ida ne’e, no atu fahe informasaun no halo advokasia atu proteje direitu povo Timor-Leste tomak nian.

Husi Adino Nunes Cabral, SH

Peskizador, Gobernasaun no Demokrasia, La’o Hamutuk


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