News & Updates 23 November 2017

Press release: Timor-Leste NGO Coalition Submits Joint Shadow Report at the UN Committee Against Torture’s 62nd Session

Press release:

Timor-Leste’s NGO Coalition on CAT Submits Joint Shadow Report at the UN Committee Against Torture’s 62nd Session

Geneva, Switzerland and Dili, Timor-Leste

21 November 2017

Life is not fair. I live like an animal that crawls on the ground. My life is difficult. I don’t have a decent house… (AM, a female rape and torture survivor from the past conflict, interview by ACbit, 2016.)

On 21-23 November 2017, Timor-Leste’s NGO Coalition on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) submitted a report during the 62nd session of the Human Rights’ Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland.

Coordinated by AJAR (Asia Justice and Rights) and supported by the UN Human Rights Adviser’s Unit and The Asia Foundation, the shadow report is the collective effort of 15 Non-Government Organisations. It was the basis of a private dialogue held by representatives of the coalition and the Committee Against Torture on Tuesday, 21 November 2017.

The Coalition highlighted issues around the narrow definition of torture in Timor-Leste’s Penal Code, overcrowding in prisons, the lack of juvenile detention facilities, cases of excessive use of force by security personnel, as well as the prevalence of violence against women. Additionally, the Coalition raised the use of corporal punishment in education, and concerns with regard to the treatment of refugees, and persons with disabilities and sexual minorities. AJAR Timor-Leste’s Director, José Luís de Oliveira, states, “We [The NGO Coalition on the CAT] consider this review opportunity as being crucial to awaken the Timor-Leste government to its obligations as a state-party to the CAT. A conducive dialogue between the Committee Against Torture and the Timorese government representatives may bring about changes and improvements regarding of implementation of the CAT principles in Timor-Leste. We hope that the members of the committee can urge the government of Timor-Leste to take steps to improve the legislative, administrative and judicial mechanism as recommended in our shadow report, to ensure that ill-treatment can be gradually eradicated and the right of victims of torture–now and past–can be reinstated.”

The Coalition also highlighted the urgent need to rehabilitate the lives of thousands of survivors of torture from the past conflict (1975-1999), many of whom continue to suffer the impact of these violations. Pursuant to the recommendations of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR, 2005) and the Commission on Truth and Friendship between Indonesia and Timor-Leste (CTF, 2008), the Governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia should:

  • Develop a joint program to provide reparations for victims of past violations in cooperation with Timor-Leste’s Centro Nacional Chega (CNC) and civil society,
  • Urgently provide services and rehabilitation to victims of torture and sexual violations that occurred in a massive scale during the conflict, not only veterans or ex-combatants;
  • Establish a joint commission or initiative to search for the disappeared, including separated children; and
  • Work closely with Timorese civil society organisations to ensure the non-repetition of torture and ll-treatment, by following the standards set by the CAT.

Members of the NGO Coalition on CAT: Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), Asosiasaun Hukum Dan Keadilan (HAK), Asosiasaun Chega ba Ita (ACbit), Asosiasaun Halibur Defisiénsia Matan Timor-Leste (AHDMTL), Asosiasaun Defisiénsia Timor-Leste (ADTL), Asisténsia Legál Feto no Labarik (ALFeLa), Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI), Belun, Coalition for Diversity and Action (CODIVA), FOKUPERS, Fundasaun Mahein, Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor (PRADET), Ra’es Hadomi Timor Oan (RHTO), Rede Defensór Direitus Umanus (RDDU), Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP)

Contact persons:

José Luís de Oliveira, AJAR Timor-Leste Program Director,, +67077237170
Luis de Oliveira Sampaio, Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP),, +67077295795

Download the full press release in English
Download the full press release in Tetun