BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home June news

"Includes papers on these topics: Justice and Human rights; Constitution; Women (REDE Statement); Children and Youth;
Education; Capacity building; Health; Agriculture; Environment; Water and Sanitation; Refugees."

[Links and Endnotes added by BACK DOOR]

Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e
The East Timor National NGO Forum

Kaikoli Street,  Dili-East Timor  telephone 322772/

ET NGO paper for Donors’ Conference June 2001


The East Timor Delegation
Acknowledgement and Introduction
Foreword by Antero Benedito Da Silva “NITO”, Chair of NGO Forum Board
Justice and Human rights
Women (REDE Statement)
Children and Youth
Capacity building
Water and Sanitation


Justice and Human Rights
Capacity Building

Capacity building

All papers

Children and Youth
Water and Sanitation
Capacity Building



Aderito Soares     - Board Member NGO Forum  ( File: Advocacy )
Adelziza Magno   - Representative and member for REDE (Womens’ NGO groups )
Arsenio Bano       - Executive Director NGO Forum
Andrea da Costa   - External Liaison Officer NGO Forum
Keryn Clark          - Country Director for East Timor, Oxfam Australia


Aderito Soares     Member, East Timor NGO Delegation to the Donors’ Conference June 2001

Aderito is a 31 year old Lawyer from Maliana in East Timor. He speaks Kemak, the language from Maliana, Tetum, Indonesian, English and some Portuguese.

Aderito completed an undergraduate Bachelor of Law in Central Java at the University of Satya Wacana  Salatiga. He focussed on International Law and Indigenous Peoples.

Besides being a board member of the NGO Forum, Aderito is the Coordinator of the NGO SAHE  Institute for Liberation, the Coordinator for the East Timorese Jurist Association, a  board member of the NGO La’o Hamutuk as well as a lecturer at the East Timorese National University in human rights and legal subjects for the Social and Political Science faculty.

Aderito was active in the underground students’ movement in Indonesia attending various international workshops and seminars on Human Rights and legal issues. In November 2000 he was invited to Puerto Rico for a four-day International Peoples Tribunal on “The Presence of the US in Puerto Rico” held by NGOs and  CSOs in Puerto Rico, where he acted as a judge together with seven other judges from around the world.

Leading up to 1999 Aderito was active in preparing for the referendum by training the pro-Independence campaigners as well as working as a facilitator for CNRT.

His area of focus is on international law and indigenous peoples, eg. issues connected to the plight of the indigenous peoples of West Papua as well as labour issues in East Kalimantan. Throughout the past years he has been working closely with the Pro Democratic Movement in Jakarta. He also was the NGO representative and gave a talk on behalf of Indonesia and East Timor about the human rights situation in East Timor at the “Vienna Plus 5” conference (on women and environment) in Ottawa/Canada where he met with Jose Ramos Horta.

From Aug-Oct 1998 he did an internship in Geneva with OMCT (Organization Against Torture).

Adelziza Magno     Member, East Timor NGO Delegation to the Donors’ Conference June 2001

Adelziza is a 26 year old woman from Bagia, district Baucau. She speaks Tetun, Bahasa Indonesia and English and understands Portuguese, Makasai and Naoti.

Adelziza returned to Solo, Central Java at the Yayasan Universitas Sebelas Merdeka STIE Atma Bakti to finish her studies after the Referendum. She had already finished the thesis before, but needed still to take her exams. She completed her degree in Economics in September 2000, and focussed on management marketing.

Right after the referendum, before returning to complete her degree, Adelziza worked with FOKUPERS and Yayasan HAK, as well as the Radio Talk Show RTK, Radio Timor Kmanek. She also organized and did advocacy for UNTAET talk shows on womens’ isuues.

Adelziza attended high school in Dili and was treasurer of PMKRI, a Catholic Student Group and a member of Renetil. Later she became an activist and served as the secretary and treasurer of IMPETU, an organization for East Timorese students in Indonesia, as well as a board member of FORELSAW, a womens’ student group for peace.

Currently Adelziza works for SAHE Institute for Liberation as co-ordinator for advocacy and campaigning for womens’ issues, labour and cultural issues, as well as human rights  in the social and economic arena. She was instrumental in establishing REDE, the East Timorese Womens’ Network, which encompasses 15 East Timorese womens’ NGOs. She continues to assist them with advocacy and statements as well as other support.

In June 2000 Adelziza helped coordinate and organize the First East Timorese Congress of Women. In October and November of 2000, Adelziza was on a six week speaking tour in the United States of America invited by the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) where she spoke and gave presentations in 32 places on women, labour and indigenous issues in the then current East Timor.

Arsenio Bano     Member, East Timor NGO Delegation to the Donors’ Conference June 2001

Arsenio is a 27 yr old young man from Oecusse, East Timor. He speaks Baikeno, the language from Oecusse, Tetum, Indonesian, Portuguese and English.

Arsenio is half way through a Degree in Social Science majoring in Politics which he commenced in 1998, 1999 at Westminster University, England. The desecration and devastation of his people after the Referendum in August 1999 called him away from his studies and back home to his people.

Once home Arsenio founded the Oecusse NGO named FFSO and the Oecusse newspaper Tolas which has bi-weekly editions. Arsenio is a strong advocate for the Enclave of Oecusse and its’ resultant special needs.

Currently, Arsenio is the Executive Director of the East Timor NGO Forum which has grown from a small fledgeling office to a large and budding institution under his direction. He has been instrumental in setting up the networking groups for Civic Education and the Constitution.

Arsenio is also the general Director of FFSO, the NGO in Oecusse which deals with Human Rights, Women, Children and Income Generation:  and the Board Director of Tolas, the newspaper in Oecusse.

Early last year Arsenio worked for UNDP as a Training Officer dealing with NGO Capacity Building.

Whilst in England Arsenio was a member of the British Coalition for East Timor (BCET) working on campaigning and advocacy for East Timor and building links with NGOs and other agencies, political groups and CSOs.

As a student in East Timor and Indonesia Arsenio was an active member and coordinator of Renetil, a Student group from the activist times.

Arsenio has been advocating for the legitimate birth of a strong Civil Society in East Timor so as to allow for and enhance the development of a strong, transparent Democracy in a new East Timor forever free.

Andrea da Costa     Member, East Timor NGO Delegation to the Donors’ Conference June 2001

Andrea is the External Liaison Officer for the NGO Forum in East Timor. Andrea speaks English, Dutch, German and understands some Portuguese and Tetum.

She is the widow of an East Timorese expat Atanasio Conceicao da Costa, founder and first President of the East Timorese Association of WA, Australia, of the East Timorese Amateur Soccer Club of WA, Australia and of the East Timorese Radio Station in Perth, Australia.

Andrea was an active volunteer for the Timorese refugees of 1975 working in the areas of social integration for housing, education and legal affairs since that time. She and her husband were  members of CNRT and organised many demonstrations and seminars for the plight of East Timor in the past 2 decades.

Andrea has a Degree in Education for Early Childhood and in Education majoring in Anthropology from the University of Edith Cowan in Western Australia.

As the External Liaison Officer Andrea promotes cooperation, transparency, effective dialogue and partnership between NGOs, INGOs, other international bodies, UN agencies, UNTAET, ETTA, the banks (ADB, WB) and the private sector.  Andrea is working to establish mechanisms to ensure that there is effective two-way contact and communication between NGOs, INGOs, donors and other stakeholders. Additionally Andrea hopes to be able to secure funding for the NGO Forum for its activities in networking with NGOs, disseminating information and advocating for NGOs and the communities at grass root level.

In the past Andrea as the founder of her own NGO, (JAC-B) brought supplies to East Timor during the emergency period in the form of food, medeciness, clothing and tents. This was distributed in Dili and Maubisse.  She also organised food programmes for mal-nourished children in several suburbs of Dili, Saibada and Maubisse.

Andrea now lives with her husbands’ family in a tent amongst the ruins of their bombed house, on a hilltop in the outskirts of Dili.

Keryn Clark     Member, East Timor NGO Delegation to the Donors’ Conference June 2001

Keryn is from New Zealand with extensive experience in humanitarian emergency and community development work. Keryn has a Degree in Economics from the University of New South Wales. Keryn is currently the Country Programme Manager for Oxfam Australia [Community Aid Abroad] in East Timor and worked in East Timor prior to the Referendum as the Programme Manager for Oxfam Great Britain. In 1998, Keryn worked with a team of East Timorese researchers from the University of East Timor to design a programme to addresses Human Resource Development needs in East Timor at the level of civil society. This research involved extensive participatory activities with a number of community groups and other key stakeholders throughout East Timor.

Since March 2000, Keryn has been responsible for the management of the Oxfam Australia programme which involves supporting civil society organisations in a number of areas. This includes advocacy work with a particular focus on gender issues and human rights, support for organisations involved in community development including health promotion and water supply.

Keryn has worked extensively in Africa with a focus on community based health programmes. Prior to coming to East Timor in 1998, Keryn worked in Angola for four years working with national organisations and the Angolan government on strengthening local capacity in water supply and health promotion.


This briefing paper has been produced as a result of non-government organizations in East Timor, both national and international, working in partnership.

Together, we have shared much information and experience.

Many people have generously given valuable time and effort towards this process.

We wish to acknowledge and thank you for your contribution.

We hope that the result is of assistance to donors who wish to participate in the development and reconstruction of East Timor.

The Secretariat
NGO Forum


NGOs Building Partnership With Government

Timor LoroSae is at a very critical period of transition under United Nations Administration towards having a sovereign state. To contribute to the change, the consolidation of civil society in the NGO sector becomes a very important step taken in the past one and a half-year in Timor LoroSae.

Since than, NGO Forum members and associate –local and international- have contributed much in various sectors providing linkages to the grass root communities, participating in community development, in the political process, policy development, liaison with UN structures/agencies, the East Timorese Transitional Authority and its National Planning and Development Agency and other stakeholders in East Timor; as well as providing information and analysis and raising awareness of development issues.

And yet, there are still overwhelming issues in front of us such as setting up constitutional government, International tribunal for crimes against humanity, long term economic development, promoting cooperation in the culture of pluralism, and promoting strong human resource development covering rural people.

Timor LoroSae NGOs needs to develop its character in relationship with the government in addressing those crucial questions aforementioned; character of cooperation and or partnership where it seems in need of an agreement between government and NGOs both local and international partners that are operating in Timor LoroSae. Such agreement may be important to be encouraged also among the countries in the Asia Pacific region where NGOs are crucially needed for changes in the region. NGOs must be seen crucial to democratic governments in playing check and balance and reaching out to the untouchable segments of society.

After all, developing NGOs are not only the responsibility of civil society but also the responsibility of international community.  We are proud of all contributions made in the past, and are looking forward to appreciate sympathies and supports to NGOs participation in building a sustainable society in the new future of Timor LoroSae. We build for those of Tomorrow.

Dili, 06 June 2001

Antero Benedito Da Silva “NITO”
Chair of NGO Forum Board


CANBERRA June 2001


Although there are many issues facing East Timor in relation to justice and human rights, the purpose of this briefing paper is to highlight some of the some of the most pressing needs that relate to the following areas:
* Reconciliation
* Administrative transition

Independent reports have consistently concluded that the violence of 1999 was planned, systematic and of a serious nature, involving the highest levels of Indonesian military and civilian command structure*, and yet to date, one and a half years later, only lower ranking militia men are now being prosecuted before the courts in East Timor.

However, there are serious concerns about the capacity of the new justice system in East Timor, particularly as it attempts to address the ongoing impact of the human rights violations that have taken place.  Inadequate training and resources are hampering the administration of justice.  Without a properly functioning justice system that has the trust of the community, true reconciliation based on respect for the rule of law and human rights cannot be achieved.

This is coupled with alarm on the part of the NGOs of East Timor, and the Timorese community in general, over the lack of progress in Indonesia. This concern has led to increasing calls for an international criminal tribunal for East Timor.

To this end, the NGO Forum recommends that donors direct funding toward:
* A conference in Dili to examine the possibility of an International Criminal Tribunal for East Timor;
* Immediately increasing capacity building efforts in the administration of the justice system.

1. Recent developments in East Timor

UNTAET Regulation 2000/15 of 25 July 2000 established Special Panels of the Dili District Court to hear Serious Criminal Offences, which are defined as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture.  The Special Panels also have jurisdiction over cases of murder and sexual offences committed in East Timor between 1 January 1999 and 25 October 1999.

Each panel is composed of one Timorese and two International judges.  While there are three international judges who can rotate to form different panels, there is only one East Timorese judge who must sit on every case.

From January 2001 when the first trial was heard to the end of May 2001, the Special Panel for Serious Crimes has handed down 8 judgments including against 6 militia members and one against a former Falintil member. Except for two cases that have been dismissed on procedural grounds, all the cases that have proceeded to final judgment have resulted in guilty verdicts and the imposition of substantial prison sentences.  In total over 25 indictments have been filed against over 40 individuals.

The vast majority of the serious crimes cases involve East Timorese militia members.  Most of the accused have claimed that they committed crimes whilst under the command of superiors.  Two cases involve East Timorese former TNI members.  No Indonesian troops are in custody, and so far only 2 Indonesian officers have been indicted. They have, however, failed to appear at the preliminary hearings and it is therefore unlikely that they will face trial in East Timor in the foreseeable future.

It is clear that the fair and effective prosecution of these cases is extremely important for East Timorese reconciliation as well to the development of the justice system as a whole.  However, there are serious obstacles to the achievement of these goals.  The Special Panel faces significant problems in terms of:
* Lack of court administration and resources.
* Lack of cooperation by Indonesia regarding the memorandum of understanding

1.1 Lack of court administration and basic resources

An efficient court administration is the backbone of a functioning court system. The present official approach appears to be that a judicial system simply requires judges, without specialised judicial administration. Judges and lawyers are not necessarily equipped for this role. Many of the following problems could best be addressed by the provision of key staff with experience in court administration.  To date, the Transitional Administration has failed to meaningfully build East Timorese capacity to run a justice system.

Courtroom facilities

Despite the seriousness of matters that come before the Special Panel, there are no means for the recording of trials such as tape recording or detailed minute taking. The Court clerk, who is not always present in Court, takes some notes but this is no substitute for professional transcription. The judges are therefore deprived of having an accurate record of the evidence presented during the trial when it comes to preparing a judgment. This seriously comprises the ability of either party to conduct an adequate appeal. The judges are forced to rely on their own notes taken on a laptop computer in court.  In a recent judgment the Court made specific reference to the fact that they were forced to rely on their own notes as the authoritative record of the trial.

Court registry

Generally speaking, the registry of the court is unable to perform its basic functions, including publicising court hearings and maintaining court files. The listing of cases happens in an ad hoc manner, with no centralised and easily accessible source for obtaining information about cases.  Until recently, there was generally not even a list of the cases scheduled for the same day posted outside the court.  However, even the prosecution and defense have little notice of forthcoming cases, with the public receiving no information at all. In cases of significant public interest, where family members and local communities often travel long distances to come to court, this is clearly inadequate.

Similarly, access to public court records, an important aspect of the human right to a fair trial, is virtually impossible,  The registry does not even have a photocopier, and the nearby police office will only make copies if the registry brings its own paper.  Lack of confidence in the court registry is illustrated by the facts that judges and prosecutors are hesitant to relinquish original documents to the registry, fearing that they will be inappropriately filed or otherwise misplaced.

Strong management and basic training in the importance and operation of court administration is desperately needed

1.2 Translation and language issues

There are 4 working languages in the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court: English, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and Tetum. However, in practice the working languages of the Court are English and Bahasa Indonesia.  The international prosecutors, the international mentors for the defenders and the two international judges use English. The East Timorese defenders and the East Timorese judge use Bahasa Indonesia, or Tetum when addressing a defendant or witness who only speaks Tetum.

The lack of qualified interpreters is an ongoing problem. Due to a lack of English/ Tetum translators (there is only one), at times a Bahasa Indonesia-Tetum translator has been used for the defendants, or an awkward combination of the judges speaking in English, that being translated by an interpreter from English to Indonesian and then by a second translator from Indonesian to Tetum.  In addition to double translations, it is not uncommon for the East Timorese judge to act as a translator when there is no other option, or for an international judge to ask a question first in English and then in Portuguese.

The obvious problems of understanding legal terminology in court proceedings faced by defendants with little or no formal education are compounded by these language difficulties. Defendants in several cases have had obvious problems in understanding the judges’ questions. The greatest difficulties appear to be whether the defendants have had access to pre-trial rights and whether they understand the indictments against them.

It is understood that USAID has provided simultaneous translation equipment for the courts, however no one appears to have been trained by the courts to use this technology and to date it has not been installed. We are unaware whether the translators required to use this equipment are being hired. In any case, the Dili District Court has an intermittent electricity supply and is not equipped with the generator required to ensure the functioning of the system.  The Court of Appeal is presently being equipped with the latest audio visual technology, but again, we are unaware of any training on the usage of this equipment.

1.3 Research facilities

No provision has been made for the research facilities necessary for the judges and defenders to fulfil their functions. In the present environment, as there is no functioning court library, internet access is a minimum requirement for research. Judges and lawyers need internet access to consult the comparative and international jurisprudence relevant to their decisions. Yet neither the judges nor the public defenders have internet access. In order to research international jurisprudence, such as that from the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, they are reduced to using UN Internet cafes.

1.4 Capacity building of East Timorese lawyers

It is widely known that East Timor lacks enough lawyers for the required roles.  There has been some training and a mentor system in operation at the court, however, international consultants have been rotating out and the public defenders are so busy that often they have difficulties finding the time for training.

Currently there are only 3 assisting international public defenders, some of whom have never practised in criminal law and procedure, and none of whom speak Indonesian or Tetum.  The 9 East Timorese defenders who have been formally appointed to cover the whole country have little if any previous practical legal experience and have not received sufficient training, including in areas such as international human rights law.  Those lawyers working privately and in other local legal organizations face even greater difficulties.

On the other hand, the Serious Crimes prosecutors are mainly international staff with extensive experience.

The problems outlined above have serious implications for the rights of defendants to a fair trial, and by extension to developing public confidence in the new justice system.  Areas of concern include.

* Equality before the law without discrimination
* Access to effective legal representation;
* The right to a trial within a reasonable time;
* The right to understand the nature of the charges against you and the conduct of the proceedings;
* Proper right of appeal given that there is no transcript of proceedings.

Vulnerable groups within the community, including women, illiterate people and youth are at particular risk.  It is therefore essential that far greater priority be given to resourcing and capacity building in the administration of the Special Panel to properly prosecute those defendants that are within the jurisdiction.

1.5 Lack of monitoring and accountability within the justice system

At the moment the only independent reporting of what is occurring at the Special Panel comes from the Judicial System Monitoring Programme, an as yet unfunded project implemented by the East Timorese Jurists’ Association (ANMEFTIL) and the East Timorese Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk.). Several organisations have called for independent monitoring of the judicial system, including Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists. Monitoring and reporting is absolutely necessary to promote the observance of international human rights standards, and is required to identify where ongoing reform is needed.

2. Recent developments in Indonesia

An Ad Hoc Human Rights Court with the jurisdiction to try human rights violations has after long delays been established. However, it is only empowered to investigate cases of serious human rights violations that occurred in East Timor after the popular consultation on 30 August 1999.  Unless the jurisdiction of the Court is widened, it will be unable to hear cases relating to the numerous incidents that occurred as part of the campaign of intimidation that preceded the ballot, as well as the many allegations of human rights violations since 1975.

Even if the jurisdiction is expanded, there are numerous procedural issues in the Indonesian human rights court legislation that may prejudice the right to a fair trial.

The outcomes of the trials of militia leader Eurico Guterres (home detention for unlawful possession of weapons) and the 6 men involved with the UNHCR killings in Atambua (sentences of 10-20 months), do not provide the international and East Timorese communities with confidence that justice will be forthcoming.

Lack of cooperation between Indonesia and UNTAET

Even if the Special Panel were able to effectively determine the serious crimes cases currently pending before it, there remains the problem that much of the necessary evidence and perpetrators of such crimes remains in Indonesia.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Attorney General of the Republic of Indonesia and the Transitional Authority, signed by the Attorney General of the Republic of Indonesia and Sergio Vieira de Mello on 5 April 2000, states that both parties undertake to “transfer to each other all persons whom the competent authorities of the requesting Party are prosecuting for a criminal offence or whom these parties want for the purposes of serving a sentence” (section 9).

If the Memorandum of Understanding is adhered to all persons indicted for trial by the UNTAET Prosecutor for serious crimes could face trial before the Special Panel of the Dili District Court, unless their case had previously been tried in Indonesia.

 So far, UNTAET has provided much material to the Indonesian authorities, but it appears that the Indonesian government has been reluctant to hand over evidence, witnesses or suspects to UNTAET, notwithstanding its undertaking to cooperate.

There are at present a number of cases pending before the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor. The vast majority of these stem from indictments of individuals presently in East Timor. Unless the MOU is adhered to the judges of the Special Panel may have no further cases to hear in a few months time.

3. International Tribunal

Given Indonesia’s failure so far to prosecute those responsible for organising the violence and their reluctance to comply with the Memorandum of Understanding, calls are growing amongst the NGO community for the establishment of an International Tribunal to fulfil this role.

At the same time, it seems, international attention and commitment is declining, and the Security Council has as yet taken no action.

The people of East Timor are increasingly troubled and angered by the lack of action against those responsible for the most serious crimes. Families are waiting to have some finality to their grief. Over the past eighteen months, evidence has been misplaced, witnesses move, the perpetrators remain free to dispose of the evidence, and victims have had to tell and retell their stories to each new police officer or investigator.

4. The Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The draft regulation to establish a Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission is presently under review by a Standing Committee within the National Council.

It is intended that the Commission operate for 2 years and deal with “criminal or non-criminal acts committed within the context of the political conflicts in East Timor between 25 April 1974 and 25 October 1999” (Part IV, Section 22.1). “Serious crimes” will continue to be dealt with in the courts. All other crimes will be addressed through community based mediated agreements with any perpetrators who voluntarily come forward to the Commission.

In part, we understand that the proposed Commission arises from an assessment by the UN that the formal justice system in East Timor will not be able to cope with the number of criminal matters that occurred during ‘Indonesian time” and post ballot violence, such as every instance of looting or property damage.

Yet the NGO Forum has often been told by members of the East Timorese community that without justice, there can be no reconciliation.

The new Commission should not be seen as a substitute for bringing those responsible for the violence to justice.


The NGO Forum is concerned about the slow progress of prosecutions in relation to internationally recognised crimes committed in East Timor, particularly the fact that none of the high level militia leaders or TNI officers have yet been tried

The Special Panel of the Dili District Court, as the domestic mechanism created to try serious crimes, is lacking the necessary resources and the administration and planning required to effectively deal with matters in a timely and procedurally fair manner.

It is clear that the government of Indonesia does not have the political will to:
* prosecute those responsible for the human rights violations in East Timor  who are presently within their jurisdiction, nor to
* cooperate in any meaningful way with the Transitional Administration pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding so that the Serious Crimes Unit may prosecute these people.

The political will and structures necessary in Indonesia are lacking, both in regards to their own jurisdiction and the necessary cooperation with UNTAET. The only remaining option for the prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations in East Timor currently residing Indonesia is to establish an International Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunal.

The tribunal should be established on recommendations from, and according to terms negotiated by the East Timorese people. We recognise that this issue is a complex one and that to date there has not been sufficiently informed debate on the topic. The conference should analyse the need for a tribunal and evaluate different models preferable for East Timor. Issues covered should include gender issues, jurisdiction of the tribunal, location, resources available, the role of the national justice system, participation of East Timorese judges in the trial chambers and the possible community impacts within both Indonesia and East Timor.

Therefore, the NGO Forum proposes that:

1 - International donors financially support an international conference on an International Ad Hoc Tribunal to be held in Dili as soon as is practical

- That the conference be organised by the NGO Forum
- That international speakers be invited to share their experiences of the Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, some of whom are already working in East Timor
- That the conference seek to reach a common position regarding the need or otherwise for an international tribunal

2 - That the creation of a functioning court administration be a priority for the international donor community, which requires:

- The funding and appointment of experienced administrative court staff who understand the role of court administration in a functioning judicial system;
- The appointment of at least seven additional interpreters able to speak the working languages used by the Special Panel (English, Bahasa Indonesia and Tetum);
- That bilateral donors second experienced public criminal defenders, preferably with Bahasa Indonesia skills, to the Public Defenders office to support the existing mentoring program;
- The funding of the basic facilities necessary for the administration of justice, such as generators, photocopiers, tape recorders, filing facilities, internet access etc

3 - The NGO Forum proposes that international donors fund an independent Judicial System Monitoring Programme and other such initiatives, involving Timorese participation, to monitor judicial proceedings in East Timor, in the Special Panel and other district court matters.


*Executive Summary Report on the Investigation of human Rights Violations In East Timor, January 31, 2000
Report to the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor To Secretary General, January 2000
Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor, January to October 1999, James Dunn
UNTAET slow to investigate crimes against humanity, TAPOL Bulletin No.161 March/April 2001

** Judicial System Monitoring programme Project Proposal Dili April 2000,

See also:

Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP)  Added June 9 2001
JMPS is a new human rights project set up by the East Timorese Jurists’ Association and the Timorese/international organisation La'o Hamutuk. JSMP aims to assist the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, the East Timorese public and the international community by making recommendations for ongoing reform of the fledgling judicial system of East Timor.
The main objective of the programme is to improve the quality of justice provided by the newly established judicial system, and to promote human rights and the rule of law in a meaningful and transparent manner for the people of East Timor through:

  • sending legal observers to monitor the serious crimes trials;
  • providing legal analysis and thematic reports; and
  • dissemination of information on the developments of the justice system as a whole.

  • At this stage, the programme’s courtroom observation work focuses primarily on the cases related to the violence in 1999, which include crimes against humanity, genocide and torture.
    Regular updates: subscribe to JSMP’s news service by sending an empty e-mail to
    Email/Phone:, Phone +670 (390) 325-013;
    Christian Ranheim,, Phone +61(0) 419 804 600;
    Caitlin Reiger,, Phone +61 (0) 419 366 404
    Jun 1 2001 JSMP: New Human Rights Project in East Timor:

    BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news

    BD: Calls for International War Crimes Tribunal - A collection of recent reports, articles and news

    BD: Truth, Reception and Reconciliation - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news


    CANBERRA June 2001

    The process of constitution making requires fundamental choices to be made about the type of country an independent East Timor will be. It is essential that this process is truly participatory to ensure that it reflects the aspirations and views of all East Timorese people.

    The NGO Forum has already expressed our views about the constitution making process. In our letter of 17 March to the UN Security Council, the NGO Forum requested the following;

    1 a Constitutional Commission must be established as a formal and effective mechanism for consultation throughout East Timor on the Constitution

    2 the Commission should be adequately resourced to carry out these functions, and

    3 the timeframe provided for consultation with the East Timorese people must be at least 9 months with a further 3 months for reporting.

    Based on these views, the NGO Forum believes that the establishment of Constitutional Commissions (UNTAET Directive 2001/2, 31 March 2001) for East Timor will appear as a legitimate process, while being seriously insufficient both in terms of substance and process.

     In particular, the NGO Forum has 3 main concerns;

    1 The period of operation of the Constitutional Commissions is too short to allow for sufficient participation of a broad spectrum of East Timorese society. It will not be possible to have an effective information dissemination process and meaningful consultation within this short timeframe. The reports from the commissioners to the Constituent Assembly will not be representative of the East Timorese people's aspirations and should not be seen as such. It is the view of the NGO Forum that the mandate of the Constituent Commission needs to extend beyond elections for a Constituent Assembly.

    2 The process for nominations, training and guidance for the Commissioners will be inadequate in such a short time frame. Nominations for commissioners will not be broad based if they are received through Advisory Councils only. It is unclear what training and guidance will be provided to the Commissioners so that they can carry out their functions effectively.

    3 The objective of the Commission is unclear, in particular how it intends to influence the work of the Constituent Assembly.

    The NGO Forum is very disappointed that our concerns, expressed on several occasions, have not been taken into account.

    Accordingly, the NGO Forum is currently engaged in its own process of public information dissemination and consultation on the Constitution, including workshops in each of the districts.

    However, we have no illusions that this process either will be sufficiently representative, within such a short timeframe.

    Therefore we recommend that there should be a greater effort to resource the consultation process for the constitution, and the consultation needs to be extended beyond the elections for the Constituent Assembly.

    Without significant change in the timetable, the new Constitution should only be viewed as an interim Constitution, allowing more time for broad based input and consultation.

    See also:

    May 14 LH: NGO Forum declines to join UNTAET Constitutional Process  Letter added May 16
    "The NGO Forum has chosen to coordinate with, but remain independent of, the UNTAET Constitution building process because of strong concerns that UNTAET’s process is rushed and highly inadequate." Lao Hamutuk, East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

    Mar 28 BBC: Gusmao resigns as East Timor leader  News
    "I feel, as president of the National Council, that any attempt to overcome the deadlock is in vain due to the lack of willingness [of Council] members, ... As I refuse to be part of a politically irresponsible process, I hereby tender my resignation,” East Timor independence leader Jose “Xanana” Gusmao

    Mar 28 LH: Sexton: Update on ET NGO Forum: Rushed Constitutional Process  Letter & News
    "As you have likely already seen, things are moving very quickly on this issue, and not in the direction we had hoped. ... With the news of the defeat in yesterday’s NC vote, the working group is trying to think strategically about where we can go from here. Unfortunately, there seems to be little room to argue alternatives." Pamela Sexton, La'o Hamutuk: The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

    Mar 22 LH: ET NGO Forum: Rushed constitutional process  Request & Letter
    "The [East Timorese] NGOs are demanding the establishment of a mechanism for thorough consultation throughout East Timor on the constitution, and for adequate time and resources to be allotted for this critical process. Clearly, this process is a crucial step in East Timor's struggle for self-determination. We ask for your immediate assistance in lobbying the UN Security Council through your national governments and in passing this letter to others." Pamela Sexton, La'o Hamutuk: The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis


    CANBERRA June 2001

    Produced by REDE Feto Timor Lorosa’e (Timorese Women’s Network)

    REDE is a network of East Timorese women which will for the second time represent women at this Donors Conference in order to present the situation facing women in our country. Since the successful Referendum on the 30th August 1999 the gender issue has been one of the issues which has attracted a lot of interest in many circles. This is because the struggle for gender issues will be very different from the struggle during the period of Indonesian military occupation.

    During the transition period women’s issues have received considerable attention in spite of the failure of several women’s recommendations in the affirmative action campaign, such as the recommendation for a minimum quota of 30% women in the Constituent Assembly. However the women’s group has not ceased to press for a commitment from the congress as agreed upon and taken up by REDE.

    What has happened in East Timor is the same as what has occurred in other developing countries; as has been shown by many investigations, gender inequality is the primary cause of the problems of poverty all over the world. Factors such as unequal access to education and wealth, and having little influence over decision-making lead to women and girls being amongst the poorest people in the world. The Human Development Report of 1995 reported that of the thousand million poor people in the world, 70% were women.

    The first Congress of East Timorese Women in June 2000 produced a Platform for Action for Timor Lorosa’e which included the key points from the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and international agreements about development targets. These points, and indicators to measure progress, must be used to include women’s issues in the planning process of all aid programs for Timor Lorosa’e.

    REDE observes that everything is proceeding very slowly at present. There has been no meaningful change in the two years of the transition period. The problems faced by women have not yet experienced much change, health standards remain low, education and other sectors are still bad, because of the poor level of participation of women in decision making.

    The sectors given priority as women’s issues to be immediately acted on and included in each planning sector in all aid for East Timor are:

    Law :
    - In the process of making the constitution there must be a guarantee that women are involved and consulted within each process and in the substance of it so that the problems, hopes and concerns of women can be guaranteed in the constitution of East Timor.
    - An International Court is the most pressing demand in the interests of justice. Of all the victims of Indonesian military violence the greatest suffering was borne by women, which up to this time has not yet met with the justice that victims hope for.
    - In the year that has passed since separation from Indonesia, cases of domestic violence have been common, one half of cases of violence heard by the courts have been of domestic violence.

    Health and family planning:
    - In problems of clean water and sanitation it is women who directly experience the effects of poor clean water supply and sanitation.
    - Poor access to health services and poor facilities for pregnant mothers lead to inadequate knowledge about care during pregnancy and failure to protect women’s reproductive health.
    - Family planning problems and inadequate knowledge of reproductive health result in health problems for mothers and babies due to birth spacing and inadequate nutrition due to economic factors and too many family responsibilities.
    - Problems of sexual health and STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)  including the discovery of 6 East Timorese infected with HIV/AIDS (reported by the Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili) may become a major problem in East Timor if not dealt with as soon as possible.
    - Mental health problems are a major issue. It has become evident that many people are still traumatized, especially women and children who still need to be supported against all forms of mental pressures from the period of violence to the present, and against the trauma of domestic violence.

    Education :
    - There must be increased efforts to eradicate illiteracy, (64% of women are illiterate), and educational facilities in isolated villages must be improved. Up to the present time access to schools, especially primary schools, is not guaranteed in the rural areas (examples are Suai and Oe-cusse) and many schools do not have tables and chairs.
    - There must be guaranteed access to schooling for girls.
    - There must be strong support from the government for illiteracy eradication programs run by women’s groups and non-government organisations.

    Economy :
    - The opportunity to obtain a place for trading in the new markets needs to be guaranteed to the many widows who do not have any source of income other than trading.
    - Adequate public transport needs to be available to people in rural areas in order to support their economic activities. Up to the present time there is not yet sufficient well-organized public transport to meet the needs of the village economy.
    - There needs to be training in marketing for small-scale farmers so that their produce can reach the market and be sold successfully.
    - Coffee farmers must be given appropriate protection because coffee is one of the crops East Timor is dependent on, and farmers are presently suffering serious losses because foreign coffee traders are paying very low prices for the premium organic Timor product.

    - There must be good management of urban cleanliness because of the great impact this has on women, particularly pregnant women and children who are vulnerable to disease.
    - The environment in several parts of town, especially Dili and several regional towns, is very dirty leaving unpleasant foul smells and predisposing to diseases such as dysentery, malaria, cholera, typhus, diarrhea, worms and  dengue which can affect the community, especially children. There must be urgent attention to these problems.
    - One of the consequences of the destruction after independence and recent violence in several districts is the concentration of the population in the bigger cities such as Dili and Baucau. There needs to be a guarantee of sufficient funds for district administration so that people can be persuaded to return to the district and sub-district towns and start rebuilding the villages.

    Politics :
    - There must be a guarantee that East Timor women are actively involved in the political process, especially after the rejection of the minimum 30% quota system. This particularly applies to the process of preparation for the first General Election for the Constituent Assembly in East Timor.
    - There should be improvement of the capacity of women to take part in political processes, such as the training for political candidates, which has been already carried out by the Gender Unit.
    - Support for women’s political activities needs to be increased for instance by providing the infrastructure for women’s activities to develop their capacity to take part in each process.
    - Recruitment of women to occupy positions within the government must be increased to meet the minimum standard of 30% in each sector.
    - The Timorisation of administration as announced by UNTAET has not yet been carried out in the Gender Unit. Even as the General Election approaches the majority of staff in the Gender Unit are International staff.
    - Women urge the prompt realization of a Gender Unit within ETTA (East Timor Transitional Administration) both now and after independence, and both in Dili and in the Districts administration. This is an urgent requirement so that women can be involved in dialogue so as to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by administration policies.

    All of the requests listed above are problems which REDE considers very urgent and must be incorporated in the planning of aid for East Timor. All policy making must be done on the basis of gender mainstreaming.

    The government must ensure that there is a mechanism which guarantees the rights of women and gender justice in operational funds. This must be done in parallel in the allocation of programs which strengthen civil society and organisations within it which promote women’s issues so as to ensure the effectiveness of advocacy and measures to progressively bring about changes in the lives of women.

    REDE: Feto Timor Lorosae Timorese Women's Network  Added Feb 8

  • REDE: Feto Timor Lorosae was established in March 2000 and currently encompasses more than 15 women’s organisations. These organisations are representative in themselves of a broad cross section of society as there are mass based organisations with national membership -  down to the village level, cultural, income generating/small business and rights based organisations and organisations affiliated with political parties.
  • REDE and each of the network’s members have been accompanying the political developments in our country [ETimor]. REDE advocates on a rights based approach to development, justice, social inclusiveness and gender equity and equality. REDE is also participating in and contributing to the reconstruction as well as working directly with Timorese women through amongst others, literacy and income generating and poverty alleviation projects to help them break away from the debilitating ties of illiteracy and poverty.
  • Although there have been achievements, progress is slow. Women’s lives in East Timor, as with the rest of the population continues to be arduous. For women this is more so because of the situation of women in Timorese society, cultural perceptions of women, the absence of clear laws which protect women and women’s limited participation in decision making.

  • Filomena Reis for REDE
    See: Dec 5-6 2000 REDE: Women's Network statement to Brussels donor conference

    See also:

    BD: East Timorese Women's Issues - A collection of recent information, petitions, articles and news

    BD: Sexual & Other Violence as a weapon of war - A collection of recent articles and news


    CANBERRA June 2001

    There is much work to do in relation to children and young people in East Timor.

    One of the questions being asked at the moment is “How will the work continue in this time of independence and transition when many of the international organizations will either leave or reduce their presence”.

    Direct programming assistance to children has been left off the formal agendas since the initiation of UNTAET. ETTA departments of health and education have been so overwhelmed by the enormity of setting up a new system that they have had little time to concentrate on the daily experience of school and health for children.

    As a result, they have not been able to assist many NGOs to interact with the departments in providing additional services. Therefore, initiatives for children have been localised and small. The net result is that there is very little service provision for children now.


    As at 8th May  there were 10 children in Becora prison. This prison houses both adults and children in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    The young people range in age from 12-17 years old. They have been held there awaiting trial for 3-6 months. A young person held in detention since September last year has only recently been released.

    When approaches have been made to the Public Defenders, we have been informed that they are facing difficulties with a heavy caseload and matters which are viewed as having more priority.

    One young person recently tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrist with a razor blade.  There is much concern for other young people there who are unwell with ill-defined illnesses with symptoms of paralysis.

    The young people are visited by PRADET (Programme for Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor), a mental health service offering support to the young people. Workers from Forum Comunicacao also visit and  organise play activities for them. Other local and church organizations also visit the young people. However, on occasion, the young people are not allowed visitors if there are problems at the prison.

    There is no legal person or organization that has taken responsibility to ensure that these young people are not detained unnecessarily. There are only 9 public defenders in the whole country. There appears to be no public defender whose role it is to look after these matters and therefore young people fall to the bottom of the priority list.

    In terms of more general youth advocacy, there are individual local organizations who speak about the rights of children. There is also a Childrens’ Rights Working Group consisting of 9 national and international organisations, however this group is poorly resourced and so has difficulties being an effective public voice for children. For example the group does not have the resources to access and comment upon new laws and regulations as they are developed, and so these are developed without adequate consideration of children’s rights issues.

    We therefore recommend:

    * that public defenders be given specific training in representing children.
    * that a system be adopted whereby one or a number of public defenders are responsible to ensure that young people do not remain in prison unnecessarily
    * that an adequate number of public defenders are available and/or an adequate amount of funding directed to the legal assistance office for this purpose
    * that international donors financially support an independent children’s and youth advocacy centre, employing lawyers, social workers, community educators and trainers to advocate for children and young people in the court system and in the public arena.
    * that the children receive education whilst imprisoned (either school or vocational education).


    Separated and orphaned children in this country are in very serious need of immediate support in terms of food, clothing, clean water, health care, education and other basic services.

    In this transitional period, many international and national organizations have paid attention to this need, whilst not yet effectively coordinating their efforts. Of the 38 centres in East Timor, most cannot currently provide the minimum necessary standard or quality of care for the children staying there.

    This means that they may not be able to access or provide material goods such as clothing, beds, mosquito nets and blankets, as well as electricity, water and food (basic food distribution was formerly undertaken by WFP but they are now finishing this program.)

    It also means that many centre staff, due to lack of resources and training, and high workload are unable to answer the emotional and developmental needs of the children including need for individual attention, supervised play and if possible intensive time with parents or other family members (some children are placed in these centres as their impoverished families or communities are not able to provide for them)

    Immediate attention is needed to these problems.

    The transitional government does not appear have a clear program to address these specific concerns.


    1. That donors continue to support programs through local NGOs to create suitable places in each district, as well as at the sub-district level, to assist orphaned children.


    During the conflicts of 1999, many children became the victims of violence, as they were forcefully separated from their families and taken to West Timor or other parts of Indonesia. Up until today their parents don’t know their whereabouts or how they are faring in the camps or in other placements.

    There are currently more than 400 children in this situation. While IRC and JRS have been working on tracing these children and reuniting them with their families, they are at risk of dwindling funding in the future, requiring that other NGOs and church groups take up the role of working with these families.


    That the donor communities:

    1. request and assist the transitional government to pay special attention to the plight of these children, in order that those still in West Timor or other parts of Indonesia may be returned to East Timor and reunited with their families.
    2. request that the Indonesian government locate and identify the whereabouts and well-being of these children, and return them home
    3. financially support a tracing programme to reunite these children with their families.


    In a walk around the streets of Dili or other parts of the country one will see street children and children roaming around unattended. Some of these street children are the products of rape, concubines and forced-wives of Indonesian Military Soldiers.

    The problem of street children in Dili is increasing due to the attraction of the financial opportunities that the large international presence provides.
    Some work has begun with these children by church groups and NGOs, mostly volunteers. However, there is a need for substantive projects to help these children back to school and into their communities.

    Some groups have been working towards a centre in Dili to develop training, school opportunities and activities for these children, but have been delayed by lack of resources and a place to locate the centre.

    Currently the transitional government has not prioritised this problem,
    However, it is clear that this group of children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and are seriously at risk.


    We call upon the donor community to:
    1. financially support locally driven programmes which aim to provide support for this group of children, including youth centres, employment and training schemes.


    In addition to the lack of schools and resources for children, there is also the difficulty that many children are unwilling or unable to go to school.

    Following the violence and displacement of families that occurred in 1999, many families and children are still suffering from trauma. This makes it almost impossible for children to concentrate at school.

     Local NGOs who visit these children report that many of these children just want to stay at home, do not want to engage in any activities.

    It is to be expected that for many children, fitting back into the routine of school will be very difficult without some particular support in this area.

    Additionally, some families are very poor and require their children to assist at home or go out to work to support the family. Without economic improvement for these families, this problem will continue.

    We call upon the international donor community to support alternate education initiatives for those children who are unable to access the mainstream schooling system.


    There are still significant health problems faced by children, related to poverty, lack of food and clean water in many areas.

    Additionally, children are dealing with the after effects of the violence that they and their families have witnessed. Additionally, many children suffer emotional abuse and neglect as a result of their parents difficulties in coping with the after effects of the violence that has occurred in this country. Domestic violence and child abuse is a major problem here.

    There is no service as yet to counsel and assist the many children in this situation, apart from PRADET, who have seen about 60 children and young people aged between 3-20 years of age since their work began in September last year.

    However, the future of this service in unclear and we do not know how the counselling needs of children will be addressed.

    Therefore, we call upon the donor communities to fund locally driven and managed counselling and support services for children and young people.


    The primary responsibility for care of these children remains with the family, who receive little or no assistance. For example for children who are unable to walk unaided, there is little or no equipment, eg walking sticks or wheelchairs.

    There is one school presently operating, which teaches children with a wide range of different disabilities, but with little specialised resources or equipment.

    In addition to more schools for children with special needs, there is also a need to ensure that mainstream schools are accessible to children who may be able to attend them with support.


    The needs of young people are currently being left out of the equation. Unemployment, violence and susceptibility to sexual exploitation are major problems.

    There is an urgent need for vocational training, apprenticeships and the development of opportunities for young people. Attention thus far has focussed on universities, but the majority of young people will not attend university and need viable alternatives to become productive adults.

    Training in agriculture, mechanics, carpentry, tourism, sewing, tailoring, fishing, handicrafts, small income generating projects etc, are all sorely needed, focussing specifically on the needs and vulnerabilities of youth.

    We call upon the donor communities to financially support locally driven and managed initiatives in this area.


    One of the main concerns for NGOs has been the potential crisis that may occur when the international NGOs pull out. Some of this has started to occur already.

    We are concerned that the government does not appear to have made adequate provision either in terms of planning or budgets for the large scale central government social care that will be required.

    See also:
    BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news


    CANBERRA June 2001

    1 Introduction

    Education should be seen as the key to East Timor’s future.  We should also be clear that the task of ensuring that the people of East Timor enjoy their right to education is a huge one.  This is because of the history of neglect and oppression during the last century and the destruction of 90% of all facilities in September 1999.  The task will take decades to complete.  The maximum possible resources will be needed from national and international sources. All education stakeholders need to participate in decision-making in order to decide between competing claims for scarce resources and determine realistic time-frames for development.  If this participation happens then it will be possible to achieve the social mobilisation necessary to achieve the right to education.  Mobilisation will not be achieved without ownership by the people of East Timor.

    Considerable progress has been made since September 1999.  We know that UNTAET and ETTA staff at national and district level have worked tirelessly to establish a new school system in the ashes of the old.  In the primary sector, for example, the increase in primary school enrolment at the start of the school year was a significant achievement.  Steady progress has been made towards re-establishing basic primary classroom facilities. However, much remains to be done.  We know that the strong enrolment figures mask a number of negative factors affecting children’s learning in primary school.  Limited class time is one problem: most children are only in class 2-4 hours a day.  Poor attendance is another important issue.  Some children stay away from school because they have to work in order to help support the family.  Others stay at home when the exercise books and pencils provided by the Administration are used up, since their parents cannot afford to buy more.  The language transition in primary schools is also proving a significant barrier to learning at the present time.  We believe that it is vital for ETTA and donors to listen to civil society views about the situation in education at the point of delivery, so that appropriate strategies can be devised.

    The major mechanism for development in the education sector has been the TFET funded Emergency School Readiness Project that focuses on primary and secondary education.  This has been complemented by bilateral funding programs and some international NGO funding. We believe that the potential for national and international NGOs to contribute human and financial resources to the education sector has yet to be fully realized.  This is particularly true with the non-formal sector where civil society organizations have a special contribution to make.

    2 Education for all: international and national principles

    In this briefing paper we are guided by the humanistic and democratic principles established by international and East Timorese organizations in a series of conventions and statements.

    Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) declares that all children have a right to education.  It is the state’s responsibility to provide primary education free to all, drawing on international assistance where necessary to ensure this right.  Furthermore, article 2 establishes that all rights apply to all children without discrimination on grounds of gender, disability, ethnicity, religion or citizenship.

    International targets to achieve the right to education were set at the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, 1990).  At the World Summit on Social Development (1995) a commitment was made by governments to eliminate gender disparities in education by 2005.  The targets set in 1990 were reviewed and revised in 2000 at the World Education Forum (Dakar) when an undertaking was given by governments that ‘no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources.’  At Dakar governments also agreed:

    ‘to develop or strengthen existing national plans of action by 2002 at the latest… developed through more transparent and democratic processes, involving stakeholders, especially people’s representatives, community leaders, parents, learners, NGOs and civil society.  The plans will address problems associated with the chronic under-financing of basic education by establishing budget priorities that reflect a commitment to achieving Education For All goals and targets at the earliest possible date, and no later than 2015.’

    The Magna Carta adopted at the East Timorese National Convention in the Diaspora (1998), declared acceptance of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and proclaimed that an independent East Timor would promote ‘The right to a democratic education’.  Furthermore, it proclaimed that ‘the children and youth shall represent our hope in the future, and the protection and promotion of their rights shall always be a priority’.

    At the CNRT National Congress, 2000, commission III recommended the creation of ‘mechanisms for the protection of the rights of women, children, the elderly and those with physical and mental disabilities’.   It also recommended that equal opportunities should be ensured ‘to both genders taking into account specific needs of women where priority must be given'.

    3 Recommendations to donors

    3.1 Recommendation: donors should support the development of a national vision for education via a process of consultation with stakeholders

    There is a need for a defining framework for education.  A national vision and plan for education of the type promoted at the World Education Forum (see above).  In the absence of such a framework, decisions are made in response to short-term political pressure or external influences.  At present, many stakeholders feel that the sense of mission that could mobilize communities to take responsibility for development of formal and non-formal education is lacking.  The framework would specify what the priorities of the government are.  For example, we believe that initiatives should be taken to include those groups currently excluded from education and from participation in society.  Therefore, we would prioritize the provision of non-formal literacy education to women in rural areas. We believe that the vision for education should include promotion of equality for women (see section 2 above) through both formal and non-formal activities.

    At present, the priorities of ETTA are not widely understood.  Such a framework for education should be developed by the future government via a process of broad consultation with civil society.  This would enable decisions to be understood and owned by the people of East Timor.  A sense of ownership is required if society is to be mobilized in the cause of education. At present, the involvement of parents, for example, in the running of schools is limited.

    There should be donor coordination with civil society to ensure that programs developed via the various channels (CFET, TFET, bilateral etc.) are incorporated within the agreed framework.

    Education should be seen as the key to East Timor’s future.  However, UNTAET and ETTA have not given education the prominence it deserves in their communication with the people. (At present, teachers in the districts report that they do not receive information from the district education office.)  Once the national vision is agreed there should be a massive social communication campaign to promote it.

    3.2 Donors should support strategies for democratic policy formulation processes that bring government and civil society together and ensure sustainability

    At the 2000 congress, the Timorese leadership in CNRT recognized the role of civil society organizations in holding governments accountable for their actions.  However, in practice, the approach taken to policy formulation under UNTAET and ETTA to date, including the donor missions, has not set a strong example of accountability to the future democratically elected government.  It is crucial that information about processes of monitoring and evaluation (undertaken by donor missions and others) be provided to civil society organizations in advance so that they can participate in a broad and meaningful way in the design of the process.  It is also essential that interpreting and translation services be provided.

    We argue that all significant data of public interest collected by the Education Division- for example, gender disaggregated enrolment data- should be routinely distributed to civil society organizations in translated form so that they can participate in decision-making.  Donor mission reports- perhaps in summarized form- should also be distributed. Lack of information causes mistrust and diminishes voluntary efforts. The NGO Forum Education working group (‘the Education Forum’) can provide one channel for the flow of information.  The policy formulation process should involve civil society participation at the district level as well as the national.  Over time trust should be built between all the actors involved in nation-building.  Democratic participation can reduce the risk of short-term unsustainable practices.

    3.3 Donors should support interventions to address the diversity of learning needs rather than focusing on infrastructure for the formal school system

    It is understandable that in the immediate aftermath of September 1999, UNTAET/ETTA and donors should have focused their efforts on educational facility infrastructure.  However, under the future democratically elected government, we believe that donors should support initiatives by East Timor people that recognize the diversity of learning needs and offer imaginative solutions to meet them.

    Access to appropriate education should be provided for excluded groups.  Poverty continues to exclude many children and adults from education- especially in rural and remote areas.  (Although UNTAET/ETTA should be applauded for pro-poor policies such as removing the requirement for school uniforms and examination fees.) Both boys and girls are excluded from school because they are required to work to contribute to the family income.

    We also believe strongly that equal access to education should be provided for people with disabilities and other special needs; this includes both children and adults traumatized by the events of recent years. There is a need to support alternative education initiatives for those children who are unable to access the mainstream schooling system while also ensuring that mainstream schools are accessible to children who may be unable to attend them without support
    Educational opportunities for youth must not be restricted to those able to go to university.  Youth centres providing a range of activities including skills training should be set up, with access guaranteed to both men and women.

    We believe that education in East Timor should express the egalitarian and humanistic values described in the landmark documents referred to in section 2 above. If the diversity of learning needs is to be met, then NGOs and other civil society organizations- who have the required local knowledge- must take the lead.

    3.4 Donors should support the participation of NGOs and civil society organizations in education programs

    Direct program involvement from national and international NGOs has not been given a high priority since the Education Division was established.  We believe that an important factor in this was the enormous workload of the Division and a desire to focus on certain infrastructure priorities.  There was also a legitimate concern to ensure control of activities in the sector at a time when many organizations were wishing to engage. However, if appropriate direct program assistance is not now encouraged there will be a loss of human and financial resources to the education sector since national and international NGOs will tend to focus their activities and funds on other areas.  (It should also be remembered that many international organizations will leave or reduce their presence in future, so it is important to forge alliances now.)  Program assistance may be particularly appropriate in the non-formal sector, as described elsewhere in this paper.

    3.5 Donors should support a national Early Childhood Development program involving NGOs, church groups and other civil society organizations as service providers.

    School principals report that parents wish to place many children of age 4 to 5 in primary school.  They are forced to turn them away because the school system starts at age 6 and grade one classes are over-loaded.  This state of affairs shows the need to develop provision for Early Childhood Development in East Timor.  Appropriate learning methodologies focused on the needs of the child should be introduced, building on examples of existing best-practice from UNICEF, NGOs, church groups and other civil society initiatives.  Facilities appropriate to the methodology should be established.  Civil society must take the lead if significant progress is to be made in this sector.

    3.6 Donors should support a national adult literacy program involving NGOs, church groups and other civil society organizations as service providers.

    National NGOs have experience of adult literacy programs (going back to the 1970s) which combine reading, writing and numeracy with empowerment, in the tradition of the Brazilian educator Paolo Freire.  Civil society organizations see literacy learning as part of a wider process of strengthening the participation of marginalized groups in democratic society.  We believe that this rich experience and expertise should be incorporated in a national program of adult literacy.  Such a program should focus on closing the gender gap in literacy, as recommended by the Women’s Congress of  June 2000.

    3.7 Donors should support initiatives that meet the needs of teachers

    Teachers express frustration about the absence of pre-service and in-service training opportunities.  We believe that upgrading the skills of teachers cannot wait until infrastructure work is complete.  It is an urgent priority in order to improve the quality of education.  Teachers are particularly keen to receive training assistance with handling the language transition.

    Teachers report that the student-teacher ratio still remains at a level that makes effective learning difficult.  Although teacher salaries have increased on the levels prior to September 1999, teachers indicate that the dramatic increase in the cost of living has eroded the value of their salaries.  Both these issues need to be addressed over the long-term through a process of dialogue and consultation between the future government and the teachers’ union.

    The recruitment and placement of female teachers is a key issue. The overall percentage of women teachers in East Timor is low in all sectors and affirmative action should be taken to redress this imbalance.  As it is, women with many years of experience are being excluded from employment due to the selection process.  In a  number of sub-districts, there are no female primary school teachers.  This has a negative impact on the educational opportunities open to girls at school.  Special measures should be piloted in order to place female teachers in the sub-districts affected.

    Teachers report that furniture provision remains generally poor and has a very negative impact on learning.  This is despite the fact that some progress has been made in the distribution of furniture.  Similarly, there are serious gaps remaining in the provision of text-books and other learning resources.  Strategies such as resource centres need to be devised in order to meet these needs.


    CANBERRA June 2001

    Capacity building has been widely acknowledged as an issue of paramount importance to every sector of national development in East Timor during the next six month period. Indeed it will be an ongoing priority for many years to come.

    Much has already been said about the urgent need to build human resource capacity for men and women working within the transitional East Timorese Administration in order that the principles of good governance can be implemented in the long term.

    There is in East Timor an overwhelming sense that until now the process used to determine national development and funding priorities has been very donor driven.  In this next period of the transition, NGOs and INGOs alike believe that the priorities for national development, the timeframes for their implementation, the language used in decision making processes, and the approach taken to consultation should be driven by the East Timorese stakeholders themselves.

    Ultimately the challenge to donors now lies in finding ways to assist the East Timorese to lead their country into full independence and manage the demands that will bring.  The East Timorese do not want a culture of dependence to develop with donors.  Instead they want donors to work together with leadership within both the government and non government sectors to build the national human capacity across the country and across all sectors.

    There are ways in which donors can assist to improve and deepen the process of capacity building in the next phase.

    1.  At the national level, participatory and consultative approaches to policy formulation and drafting of legislation are central to the development of a strong civil society and a democratic government. In addition to this, meaningful, participatory and consultative processes at the level of district and local development initiatives generate experience, ownership, skill and pride in the population, and trust in the government.

    A strong civil society is essential to the development of responsible government.  Participatory and consultative approaches, however, are acquired under conditions which foster the building of trust over time between all the actors involved in nation building.  These actors also include local forms of traditional and other governance, local non government and community organisations, educational and research institutions and training bodies, women’s organisations, religious and interest based groups, and other service providers and intermediaries outside the government structures.

     Donors should continue to  demonstrate  their ongoing trust and funding support for civil society as an essential component of  a democratic and self sustaining nation.

     In addition, donors should support strategies for building appreciation of and understanding of the role of NGOs and other civil society actors within staff of the transitional administration.  They should support projects which foster partnerships between all stakeholders including government, NGOs and CSOs, local heirarchies, women’s groups and vulnerable groups.

    2.  Capacity building is a process which involves more than skills transfer, training, and human resource management plans in government.  These elements are extremely important and should take place within a coordinated framework for national development.  However, the development of a national capacity building plan needs to go much further than the transitional government.  Such a national development plan needs to simultaneously address governance and policy related skills, community strengthening, network building, and organisational development.  In short civil society must be strengthened in order for people to enjoy the fruits of independence.

    The highly reactive funding and political environment in which East Timorese  NGOs and other civil society actors are currently working makes sustained long term planning extremely difficult.  So much needs to be done and it will all take time. Priorities need to be established, experiences need to be documented, lessons learned need to be shared and civil society needs to advance towards it’s goals in an informed way and at an achievable pace.

    Training and capacity building needs within civil society must be determined, particularly for community leaders such as  government extension workers, community leaders, women’s groups and other civil society actors.  Capacity building at all levels  needs to be carried out in a co ordinated way, and a national plan developed.

    Donors should favour proposals that focus on the development of co ordinated, well researched and developed capacity building approaches rather than ad hoc training and capacity building responses which have not demonstrably improved capacity in past experience.

    3.  Capacity building in East Timor will be a long term process.  “Some suggest that no organisation can absorb any more than 30% change at any one time.  East Timorese organsiational structures even when setup are seeming to undergo 100% change most of the time.  The pace of change is expected to continue after independence……… “ (Capacity Development for Governance and Public Sector Management strategic Management Framework- NPDA P15).  East Timorese communities, families, local structures, NGOs, and civil society in general are absorbing a large volume of rapid social, political and economic change.  This can lead to a sense of urgency about every priority.

     However, the reality is that building capacity for genuine community based self determination in the East Timorese context will require the building of trust over time between long term stakeholders.

     It has been suggested that there is a absence in ETTA and UNTAET of  coherent policy framework for capacity  development and that training is  not yet  linked to the performance expectations of the position.  Job performance and human resources development plans have not been developed within UNTAET/ETTA and there has as yet been no review of it’s performance with regard to capacity building.  In the absence of any  broad strategy or vision, donor driven, rather than East Timorese driven capacity building has been taking place.

     In order to promote strategies that work, NGOs believe that all international staff in particular working in East Timor should work to performance objectives related to skills transfer and capacity building which are monitored and assessed.

    Donors should be prepared to commit to longer timeframes, and to develop realistic and achievable measures of successful capacity building for donor reporting requirements.   These may include a description of respectful mentoring processes used by organisations and qualitative differences that will be measured and monitored in the performance of East Timorese staff.  They should also include a description of how international staff performance in the area of capacity building has been measured and monitored throughout the life of a project.

    Organisations employing international staff in East Timor should be obliged by donors to develop performance indicators relating to skills transfer and training and demonstrate that staff performance is monitored according to these as a pre requisite to receiving donor funding.  Such organisations should also be required to show a staff development plan for East Timorese staff.

    6. NGOs believe that international staff working within the transitional administration and also within other organisations funded through the donors should be recruited according to qualities relating to their experience in, and demonstrated abilities to deliver skills transfer, mentoring, support and capacity development to identified East Timorese counterparts.  These skills should be considered essential to any work in the country.

    In addition, NGOs in East Timor believe strongly that international staff recruited to skilled and senior positions in the administration or in projects should work in a mentoring role to an East Timorese counterpart.  The East Timorese counterpart should officially hold the title of the senior post, whilst the international staff member should hold a title of advisor or assistant to the position.

    Donors should insist that international staff recruitment practices favour the employment of staff skilled in capacity building.  They should also insist that wherever possible position descriptions should have East Timorese posts bearing the senior title and international staff posts bearing the title of advisor or assistant to the position.

    7. In an environment where NGOs are working hard to build continuity and capacity of their organisations at  salaries that cannot compete with those of UN agencies,  ethics need to be developed and adhered to around such UN agencies making offers to East Timorese staff  working for partner NGOs.   In addition, UN agencies should not then pressure “headhunted” staff to leave their NGO at extremely short notice.  These practices work directly against the development of a long term and co ordinated approach to capacity building of  NGOs.

    UN agencies should be required by Donors to sign a voluntary code of conduct regarding “headhunting” East Timorese staff from NGOs working in development.

    8.  Much has already been done in East Timor over the past 18 months in the name of Capacity Building.  It is time to assess those activities that have been successful in actually building the capacity of East Timorese people within organisations, communities, and government departments.   Without the benefit of learning from our experiences - good and bad- it will not be possible to develop a coherent future strategy based on good practice.

    Donors should fund initiatives which document best (and worst) practice in the area of Capacity Building

    9.  The legal system in East Timor is under enormous pressure to deliver justice which can be believed and trusted by the people of East Timor.  The problems relating to capacity building in the justice system are extremely alarming to the NGOs.  Jurors and employees within the court system require rigorous training and extremely committed international legal mentors who are prepared and able to train and lead by example.

    Donors should closely monitor the appropriateness of the current capacity building activities within the legal system.  Donors should join with NGOs in insisting that only the most appropriate, culturally sensitive and experienced international staff are employed in this sector, and that they play a strong role in capacity building of counterparts to an internationally acceptable level.

    10. Building the political skills and capacity of the population of East Timor is crucial to the development of an informed and active civil society.  In particular, East Timorese women are seriously disadvantaged by the unrealistically short timeframes in the delivery of civic education, voter education and the consultation on the Constitution.  If the constitution is to reflect the will of the diverse population of East Timor, then it needs to result from a consultation that allows for the full participation of women and marginalised groups in society.

    Donors should seriously consider the long term negative impacts on women and marginalised groups of the short time frames for the election and the constitution.  Donors should be prepared to financially support the development of political capacity within the East Timorese population through long term civic education and community consultations.

    See also:

    BD: Capacity Building & 'Timorisation' - A collection of recent statements, reports, articles and news


    CANBERRA June 2001

    NGOs have played a critical role in the health sector in East Timor, in the pre ballot period, then as an immediate response to the crisis and currently supporting the new East Timorese government and communities in the transitional period. NGOs are committed to a sustainable and integrated health system in East Timor. This is demonstrated through a commitment to capacity building and collaboration with the Division of Health Services (DHS) in the design and implementation of integrated district based health systems. NGOs work in all 13 districts in East Timor. NGOs have lent their expertise for the development of health policy at a national level.


    As detailed above NGOs share the goal for a sustainable East Timorese health system for East Timor, however believe that critical factors need to be taken into account in order to achieve this goal. The dramatic upheaval in the health sector as a result of the post ballot violence has resulted in an almost total destruction of infrastructure, severely reduced human resource capacity particularly at management level and there is the continuation of poor health status . The pace of transition and the resources required for an effective transition from the post conflict situation to the development of a sustainable health system needs to realistic. NGOs are concerned that if pace is too rapid the process of strengthening of institutional and human resource capacity may be impeded and jeopardise what valuable mentoring and skills transfer has already taken place.

    NGOs recommend that donors ensure that the funding focus is to ensure implementation of a realistic and effective transitional strategy from a post conflict to a viable health system.


    The need for a comprehensive strategy for human resource development in East Timor is recognised by all as a priority. As detailed above, NGOs fear the time period allocated to develop a sufficient level of expertise in the health professionals in East Timor is unrealistic. The national recruitment process is expected to be ongoing for several more months. There is a risk that the handover of the management of the district health systems to the newly recruited staff could to be premature, thus undoing much of the benefits from the mentoring and training activities carried out to date.

    NGOs have a focus on strengthening the capacity of East Timorese involved in the health sector – this includes both the national staff of the DHS but also other East Timorese involved in the health sector through civil society organisations. NGOs recognise that sufficient time is needed to consolidate and ensure the transfer of both management and technical skills to East Timorese both within the DHS employed staff and other civil society organisations.

    NGOs recommend that human resource development within a realistic time frame must a primary goal. Clear performance indicators must be established to measure that both technical and management skills are indeed being transferred.


    The NGOs appreciate the need for a sector wide approach to health services and the importance of all stakeholders implementing activities within the one integrated strategy. However NGOs are concern that the proposed model of single funding source may prove to be problematic in the following ways:
    - As funding moves from the emergency (such as ECHO) to TFET (development) procedures had not been put in place in time to enable key NGOs that are service providers to access funds in a timely manner. This has already been an issue and could have led to a gap in health care provision if the NGOs involved had not been in a position to use their own resources. This has applied to both service providers and NGOs involved in health promotion work.
    - East Timor continues to have an uncertain operating environment. The guidelines to access the trust funds do not have the flexibility to cover costs that are required to meet unforeseen events.
    - Implementation of key activities for the health sector such as the building of referral health facilities, have been directly tendered out under the TFET guidelines. There have been significant delays in this area which have had a negative impact in the provision of health throughout East Timor. It is critical that not only can the Trust Funds be accessed and disbursed on a timely basis, but that there is accountability that commitments are carried out on a timely basis.
    - The Trustees of TFET produce a monthly report which provides an overview of the activities of the Trust Funds. However in addition to this general information, NGOs are calling for a closer dialogue and consultation between the trust fund managers and all stakeholders involved in the health sector. In any health system there are the different levels of information and perspectives regarding key health priorities and information regarding implementation of projects. The recent Joint Donor Health Assessment mission to East Timor briefed NGOs on their objectives at the beginning of the visit and presented the aide memoire at the completion of their visit,  however did not organise time to consult with NGOs either individually or as a group during the mission.
    - There is a risk that funding decisions may be taken on the basis of a “blueprint” for a financially sustainable health system without taking into account the reality of the situation in East Timor. As detailed above, NGOs share the goal for a sustainable health system. Critical issues such as the high rates of TBC, high rates of maternal mortality and the need to establish a sustainable community based health promotion system must be addressed in the short term.  To ensure a financially sustainable health system there needs to be considered not only the short to medium term budgetary implications but a long term strategy. This strategy must address not only financial sustainability, but also provide for an integrated health system with the objective of improving the health levels of the East Timorese people. This may require increased resources in the short to medium term for longer term sustainability. In addition it may require a move from traditional “blueprint” health systems,  with an innovative look at strategies to deal with all the challenges faced.
    - NGOs have invested a significant amount of their own resources into health activities in East Timor particularly to ensure that district based health systems continue to operate when donor resources have not been available, ensuring ongoing capacity building and also health promotion projects at community level. NGOs strongly believe that the East Timorese health professionals in conjunction with the East Timorese people need to be actively participating in strategies for an integrated health system in East Timor. Many of those health professionals are currently working closely and in partnership with NGOs. However NGOs themselves have had little input into developing the strategy of HSRDP II, this is an unusual approach given that NGOs are currently a major stakeholder in the sector.
    - There is high degree of commitment by NGOs working in the health sector, however in the current uncertain funding environment it is not certain as to the role that NGOs will play in the future and who will take responsibility for the activities that NGOs are currently implementing. At the past two Donor Conferences, NGOs have expressed concern at the uncertain funding environment. The result is a very uncertain environment in which NGOs can adopt a strategic approach to improving the health of East Timorese people.

    NGOs recommend:

    - that East Timorese health professionals and community representatives are actively involved in developing a strategic plan for a health system in East Timor. Key stakeholders in the health system including UN agencies, NGOs, and DHS international staff, can provide technical support to East Timorese working groups to develop an integrated strategy based on the realities facing East Timor. Budgetary constraints are recognised as a reality, however innovative strategies are needed to effective address the critical health issues while maintaining the goal of a financially sustainable health system.  The result may require additional funding in the shorter period to ensure a longer term financial sustainability.

    - although the TFET provides the main funding source, alternative funding sources are required to ensure flexibility to respond to health care needs in East Timor.


    It is agreed by all stakeholders that there needs to be a sector wide approach to health, with a strategy to develop an integrated health system in East Timor. Given the realistic constraints of the East Timorese budget, resources are limited across all sectors. The result for the health sector has been reduced health care facilities and reduced staff. As a result, resources have been focused on curative health systems with reduced resources for health promotion activities . This is of great concern where major illnesses in East Timor are avoidable with improved health practices . It is recognised that if the DHS is unable to be resourced in to implement health promotion activities that other resources may need to be provided in the short term to civil society organisations to facilitate community based health promotion projects. The DHS would be responsible for co-ordination and policy issues relating to all aspects of health promotion. Although this may involve extra funding in the short term, it is envisaged that the improvement in health status of the East Timorese population would result in significantly reduced costs of health care in the future .

    NGOs recommend that donors provide resources for cost effective and community managed health promotion projects over a wide area: reproductive health, communicable disease control and environmental health, IMCI and EPI.

    See also:


    Boletim La’o Hamutuk: [Tetum PDF format]
    Vol. 1, No. 3. 17 Novembro 2000 Hari Sistema Saude Nasional iha Timor Lorosa’e:

    Nov 17 BLH: Saude, Oekusi, Deskulpas, no Mina: Koneksaun Timor Lorosa’e ho Australia  Editorial added Jan 23
    "Tanba ne’e maka Lao Hamutuk husu ba Governu Australianu atu halo kotu sira nia tuntutan ba direitu ruma kona ba mina no gas natural iha Timor Gap. La haré ba meritus legais nebe Timor Lorosa’e iha (ne’e be makas tebes), justisa basika haruka atu Canberra rekonhece no husu deskulpa tan sira nia passadu nebe halo moe tebes. Manifestasaun konkretu kona ba akto ida ne’e sei fo fatin ba Timor Lorosa’e atu menikmati, tanpa sanksi, beneficius hotu nebe sei hetan husi depositu mina no gas natural iha Timor Gap." BLH


    Mar 12 OTL: Sistema de saúde: sustentável no futuro?  Report added Apr 14
    "O sistema de saúde actual corre o risco de ser pautado por metodologias e equipamentos inadequados à realidade timorense, sobretudo após a retirada dos técnicos e organismos estrangeiros. O desenvolvimento não tem de passar obrigatoriamente pela implementação de sistemas sofisticados de topo de gama. A preocupação deverá ir antes de encontro às reais necessidades e capacidades da população, de forma a poderem ser os timorenses a criarem as suas própria instituições e a definirem as suas prioridades. Provavelmente, os resultados seriam mais lentos e menos brilhantes a curto-prazo, mas com certeza mais sólidos e duradouros." Observatório Timor Leste


    Mar 13 ETO: The health service: sustainable in the future?  Report added Apr 13
    "The present health system is in danger of being hindered by methodologies and equipment that are quite unsuited to the Timorese context, particularly after the foreign technicians and agencies leave. Development does not necessarily have to involve implementing sophisticated state of the art systems. The focus should be on addressing the population’s real needs and building its capacity, so that the Timorese themselves are able to create their institutions and set their own priorities. This may mean that it takes longer to achieve results, and these might be less spectacular in the short-term, but they would certainly be more solid and long lasting." East Timor Observatory

    Nov 30 TimAid: Health and Nutrition in Coleate Leotelo  Added Dec 17

    Nov 17 LHB: Building a National Health System for East Timor  Feature article added Jan 27
    "the lack of significant inclusion of local businesses and organizations in the construction of health centers is a manifestation of a larger problem: the marginalization of local interests in the development of the national health sector." LHB

    Nov 17 LHB: Health, Wealth, Apologies and Oil: The East Timor-Australia Connection  Editorial added Jan 20
    "La’o Hamutuk calls upon the Australian government to cease its demand for any rights to the oil and natural gas in the Timor Gap. ... basic justice requires that Canberra recognize and apologize for its shameful past. A concrete manifestation of such an act would be to allow East Timor to enjoy without sanction the full benefits of the oil and natural gas deposits in the Timor Sea. Such a gesture would be good for Australia’s political health." LHB

    Nov 17 LHB: Lessons from Indonesia’s Health System  Added Dec 26

    Nov 17 LHB: Vision for a People-Centered Health System in East Timor
    "Preventative [health], rather than curative, strategies are at the center. Local involvement and empowerment is the key. Village women are the number one health resource of East Timor. They, more than anyone, exhibit concern for health in the community."
    Dan Murphy, Bairo Pite Clinic, Dili

    Nov 17 LHB: Health Care and Privatization: Lessons from Mozambique


    CANBERRA June 2001


    The tragic brutality and anarchy of September 1999, which was an expression of the political frustration of the Indonesian military high command and its militia puppets, systematically destroyed East Timor’s infrastructure and superstructure, including farmer assets and other agricultural assets. In addition, the conflict as well as Indonesian practices prior to 1999, especially the forced movement of people associated with control of the population and a program of transmigration, dislocated many farming families from their traditional lands.

    Most East Timorese live in rural areas and are employed in some sub-sector of agriculture of a subsistence and traditional form. This includes many women and children who traditionally have carried out many aspects of farming, especially on household farms. Over many centuries, farming families have acquired knowledge and skills that have enabled them to sustain themselves in an often harsh environment. At the same time, some traditional farming methods have contributed to present day environmental problems.

    Without being fully aware of all the long-term consequences, farmers have been engaged in shifting cultivation, using practices of slash and burn with short rotation cycles, burning of grasslands and bushlands, unregulated livestock grazing, and uncontrolled cutting of fuelwood and timber. These practices have contributed to severe environmental degradation, including widespread damage to watersheds. Meanwhile, land use has been ineffective, with a lot of land left idle. The negative impact of harmful practices and ways of thinking, coupled with external factors, such as droughts and floods, poor market access and prices, and lack of agricultural inputs, are greatly influencing household incomes, with the result that harvests only meet household consumption needs for around five to seven months out of each year.

    Efforts to reconstruct East Timor from ruins, including rebuilding the agriculture sector, are being made by UNTAET, ETTA, and national and international NGOs, together with donor countries and donor institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank. However, due to limited human and natural resources and some ineffective management systems, these efforts have not yet yielded significant results. This is very disturbing, because a failure to address the pressing needs of the agricultural sector could eventually lead to social and economic instability and increased environmental fragility.


    At least thirteen international NGOs have been or are currently involved in agricultural projects (see Annex A). In addition, over a hundred national NGOs are registered as having had some interest in or as being actively engaged in the agriculture sector (see Annex B). Many of these national organisations have local knowledge and connections, but most lack resources and support.


    NGOs have identified a wide range of agricultural issues. Some relate to urgent needs of the sector, such as the lack of access to markets, the lack of accessible agricultural inputs (seeds, tools, etc), the lack of manageable credit, unresolved disputes over land ownership and use, the lack of access to up to date information, the lack of training in needed skills, the absence of agricultural policies (for example, regarding the harvesting of forest products, methods of fishing, the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the regulation of domestic and international markets), and the lack of a nationwide mechanism for responding quickly to agricultural crises (such as an outbreak of a livestock disease).

    Other issues relate to the implementation of projects by agencies, problems such as the lack of involvement of farmers in agricultural projects, the inequitable distribution of replacement livestock and equipment, the lack of follow up regarding training in the use and maintenance of equipment, and damaged irrigation systems still to be repaired.

    NGOs are aware that the donors and implementing agencies have also identified such needs and deficiencies.


    The problems in the agricultural sector need to be addressed by adopting a planned system of sustainable agriculture that is integrated with other sectors. “Sustainable” here means not only economically sustainable, but also environmentally and socially sustainable.

    Initial focus: rehabilitating and strengthening livelihood systems
    In the first phase of national economic development, priority ought be given to agriculture and small-scale industry. In agriculture, the initial focus should be directed at restoring agricultural assets, consolidating food production, increasing farmer incomes, and creating small business opportunities that will supplement rural development (for example, the development of rural banks and local abattoirs). These initial efforts should concentrate on rehabilitating and strengthening livelihood systems. Where efforts are made to promote production of export commodities for international markets great care should be taken not to endanger peoples livelihoods by making them overly dependent on cash crops that are vulnerable to volatile international market prices (for example, coffee). Similarly, given the system of subsidies that operated under Indonesian rule, great care must be taken with any move to a “user pays” system for basic agricultural inputs (for example, extension services provided by the Pilot Agricultural Service Centres), to ensure that agricultural communities have adequate resources to obtain the necessary inputs without further threatening their livelihood systems.

    Looking forward: planning and policy development
    Longer term planning and policies need to be aimed at developing diversified and sustainable agriculture integrated across the various sub-sectors (forestry, fishing, horticulture, livestock). Such planning and policies must take full account of local conditions and traditional laws, including traditional environmental law (Tara Bandu). Great variations in regional, topographical and climatic conditions have combined to form diverse characteristics of crops, commodities and farmers (for example, in the south, the savannah and forests of the lowlands stretch from Suai east to Wato Carbau, the national bread basket, while in the north, the barren hills extend from Maubara east to Laga). Agricultural planning should be oriented towards promoting integrated, harmonious and socially equitable practices in accordance with local soil, climate and water availability, while still conserving natural resources, local environments and cultural patterns. It must include natural resource management that takes account of population distribution, composition and growth and related community needs in areas such as water supply, health and education.

    Overall orientation of agricultural development: the empowerment of rural communities
    Most essentially, agricultural development should be oriented towards the empowerment of rural communities. Agricultural development of this kind requires the investment of time needed to ensure meaningful participation of local communities. It also requires close coordination, cooperation and effective partnerships between government (through the Division of Agricultural Affairs), NGOs, donors, multilateral donor institutions, churches, and community groups, and at all levels – national, district and sub-district. It especially requires support for the formation and strengthening of community groups, such as village farmer groups, coffee growers groups and fishing village groups, and it calls for support for national NGOs that are linked into local communities.

    See also:

    Set 14 2000 OTL: Agricultura, reabilitação e desenvolvimento  Report added May 17
    "Apesar de todos os condicionamentos resultantes da destruição de Setembro de 1999, quando os indonésios se retiraram de Timor-Leste, a actividade agrícola, a que mais depende dos próprios timorenses, é a que dá os maiores sinais de recuperação: em seis meses, a produção de cereais voltou a 75% do nível anterior e a do café aos 100%. ... A diversificação é a melhor protecção contra a insegurança alimentar da população, mas não parece preocupar os intervenientes externos que apostam no café." Observatório Timor Leste

    Sep 14 2000 ETO: Agriculture, rehabilitation and development  Report added May 17
    "In spite of all the setbacks caused by the destruction last September [1999], when the Indonesians withdrew from East Timor, agriculture is the activity that depends most on the Timorese themselves and is also the area that is now showing the clearest signs of recovery ... The people’s best protection against food insecurity lies in diversification," East Timor Observatory


    CANBERRA June 2001

    1. Background

    Current environmental issues are inextricably related to environmental management in the previous era. For this reason, current environmental management cannot be divorced from the need to change community perspectives, which have become unconsciously caught up in environmentally damaging ways of exploiting natural resources.

    In addition, current economic hardships have led to uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. For example, in communities around Dili there has been a big increase in clearing of trees to sell for firewood because people in these communities have no alternative sources of income.

    It has become a general pattern among newly-independent countries in the Third World to enter a development phase in which environmental management is given low priority, not only because it is seen to be expensive, but also because of ineffective development planning and a neglect of environmental policy among Third World leaders.

    These challenges require holistic and multi-sectoral approaches to environmental management, where environmental issues are viewed as interdependent with other types of issues, including how policy is formulated.

    1.1 Urban Problems

    The population of Dili grew from 139,875 in 1992 to around 200,000 in 1999 . This urban migration has accelerated since the referendum of 30 August 1999 as public services such as health, education, transport and retail infrastructure became almost exclusively concentrated in Dili. Farmers have been forced to become petty traders and day labourers in Dili for returns and wages that do not meet minimum requirements in Dili. This has led to increased environmental pressure upon the Dili hinterland, as people are forced to supplement other meagre sources of income just to subsist. Furthermore, the increased population concentration in and around Dili has also led to high levels of waste production, and the absence of a waste collection and management system is leading to the degradation of water, soil and air quality, as well as being unsightly.

    The absence of an overall urban planning scheme will lead to social as well as environmental problems, such as increasing crime rates and the rapid emergence of protection rackets with demarcated turf. Transportation and the traffic system have also become problems. Increased traffic in Dili has led to increasing numbers of traffic accidents and a concentration of carbon monoxide emissions and dust is producing a morning haze.

    Marine resources offer a potential contribution to urban inhabitants. Indeed the island of Timor is blessed with marine riches of great biodiversity, whose conservation requires effective and integrated coastal management in the first instance.

    1.2. Rural Problems

    Common environmental problems in rural areas relate to the uses and methods of exploiting natural resources, such as those in the following table:

    No. Environmental Issues       Causes/Explanations

    1. Forest burning     Due to lack of awareness and/or environmentally unfriendly land-management practices.
    2. Landslides, erosion etc.    Human and natural causes.
    3. Livestock grazing      Damages grasses and other plants.
    4. Cultivation of steep slopes   Makes land unstable, which causes landslides and erosion
    5. Changes in land use      Market instability for certain commodities such as pepper, cloves and rubber forces farmers to convert land to food crops.
    6. Water and sanitation      Communities complain about quality of these in several areas.
    7. Hunting and trading in wild animals       Routine hunting has led to many species in danger of extinction.
    8. Dependence of some farmers on chemical fertilizers and pesticides       This is usual in communities adjacent to former Indonesian transmigration areas.
    9. Environmentally-damaging fishing practices       Use of explosives, cyanide, drift nets and other damaging equipment.
    10. Damage and desecration of sacred sites       These include traditionally protected tree species, forests, mountains, and caves.

    In addition to the above problems, some among many other issues related to environmental problems include a weak legal system and inadequate law enforcement, the hegemony of formal over customary law, lack of awareness, lack of institutional clarity in environmental management structures, together with a lack of environmental funding and a neglect of environmental perspectives in planning.

    2. Recommendations to address environmental problems

    Overcoming environmental problems is both a financial and a human resources problem, and priorities need to be set when implementing solutions. The following are some of the important needs for current environmental policy and management in East Timor.

    No. Recommended solutions                                                              Level of urgency

      1.  Environmental education                                                                           Urgent
      2.  Environmental legislation and strengthening of customary law                     Urgent
      3.  Watershed management and rehabilitation (reforestation)                           Urgent
      4.  Waste management                                                                                 Urgent
      5.  Clearly structured Office/Department of Environment                                     Urgent
      6.  Coastal management                                                                                 Urgent
      7.  Town planning                                                                                            Urgent
      8.  Natural resource management                                                                 Urgent
      9.  Pollution control and improved sanitation                                                Urgent
    10.  Appropriate agricultural land use                                                              Urgent
    11.  Environmental Impact Assessments                                                         Urgent
    12.  Establishment of protected reserves                                                        Urgent
    13.  Management of eco-tourism                                                                     Urgent
    14.  Biodiversity research                                                                              Not yet urgent

    See also:

    Boletim La’o Hamutuk: [Tetum PDF format]
    Vol. 1, No. 2, 17 Julho 2000 Protesaun ba meio ambiente iha TL:

    The La'o Hamutuk Bulletin:
    Vol. 1, No. 2: 17 July 2000 Focus on the Environment:



    1. Introduction

    Water and sanitation provision across East Timor is still a right denied to many. An immediate manifestation of this fact is the compromised health of communities due to both a lack of water and the range of water-born diseases that are making an impact. On a lifestyle level, the absence of a water distribution system is absorbed almost exclusively by the labour of women and children, as they are the ones who must carry water over long distances. It is true that water and sanitation infrastructure was targeted and suffered extensive damage in the 1999 post-election rampage. However, most of the existing Indonesian works were poorly designed anyway and should not necessarily be replicated. Currently in East Timor, the UNTAET Water and Sanitation Service (WSS) is controlling the implementation of works only in Dili and the district capitals, which leaves a lot of scope for the involvement of international and national non-government organisations. Many towns, such as sub-district capitals, lack the population to be included in the WSS program but are too large to coordinate water programs as communities, as can villages. As extensive development of water and sanitation provision is set to happen in East Timor, one question that must be asked is, to what extent will this process involve East Timorese input and expertise?

    This paper is a collection of views from national water and sanitation (W&S) NGOs. It is our perspective that we have a responsibility to meet the needs of community water and sanitation service provision in both this transitional period and beyond to counter the deficiency in governmental services. Through accepting these challenges we seek to raise the standards of health and improve the general well-being of the people of East Timor.

    Priorities/recommendations are presented under each section and labelled 2.1 through to 4.1.

    2. Financial and Material Assistance

    Under the current funding structures operating in East Timor, the bulk of financial assistance for water and sanitation development does not reach the community level. Much of the funding received by International NGOs and UNTAET for these services is centred on Dili where it is spent on international expertise and urban development, with little or no benefit to the majority of East Timorese people. International NGO staff often must overcome cultural differences in only relatively short placements of six months or less. There is often no opportunity for knowledge transfer between incoming and outgoing internationals and contrary objectives of individuals can jeopardise productive work that is already underway. One person heading a water supply program in Maucatar, Covalima had open access to resources but lacked appropriate expertise and neglected to involve the community or the local NGO, Bia Hula. The system that resulted was a failure - the water did not reach the community and valuable materials were wasted. National W&S NGO staff, as East Timorese, are stakeholders in each water and sanitation project in their region and,  in such cases, can be held responsible by communities for its success. Therefore, a revision of the method of fund distribution is one of our major priorities.

    2.1 International parties should both support and utilise national water and sanitation NGOs in a more direct fashion.
    If national NGOs received greater donor support, a) a greater proportion of aid would reach programs on the community level and b) a more equitable distribution of aid across the districts would be achieved. We have already established productive relationships with both urban and rural communities and these must be taken advantage of. As no one is more aware of grass-roots needs and priorities than the communities themselves, direct donations will enable provision of sustainable and culturally appropriate technology. Successful communication and cooperation between donors and international NGOs one the one hand and national NGOs and communities on the other is crucial. The nature of this assistance must reflect the specific needs of East Timor. In community development programs here, resources are frequently more useful than money.

    2.2 Structures are needed to facilitate donations of resources (rather than money alone) for water and sanitation projects.
    The provision of transport resources to national NGOs will increase our capacity to successfully deliver and maintain projects in areas where access may otherwise prove difficult. Other specialised materials include flow measuring devices, surveying equipment, pipes, fittings, taps and work tools. This style of assistance has been used successfully in East Timor by USAID and Oxfam.

    2.3 Direct assistance should be coupled with a willingness on the part of donors and international NGOs to respect the independence of national NGOs and have faith in both our ability to coordinate projects and manage financial and material donations.
    There is a need for local NGOs to have these opportunities for our own development as organisations. Capacity Building, as discussed in part 3, is both a means of empowering East Timorese people, but also developing relationships, familiarity and trust between parties. It is crucial that program initiatives are made by East Timorese people and supported by internationals, rather than the other way around.

    2.4 Donors must offer a long-term commitment to development in East Timor, to enable quality projects to be developed with and by East Timorese people.

    3. Capacity Building

    Capacity building amongst national NGOs will enhance East Timorese ability to carry out projects independently and enhance our own ability to continue training in the future. Assistance in this area is infinitely more valuable than the short-term benefits of an a sophisticated project delivered with international expertise. During the Indonesian occupation, governmental structures limited the opportunities for local people to participate in water and sanitation programs, most gaining experience under Ausaid's East Timor Water and Sanitation Project. We also acknowledge the initiatives of international NGOs such as Oxfam and Care, who have provided training to local staff, however, the need for comprehensive, long-term training is still great.

    3.1 Donors and international NGOs can play an important role in establishing a coordinated, capacity building program in consultation with national NGOs and community representatives.
    National water and sanitation NGOs have a need for training in the following areas: technical - hydraulic theory, construction and maintenance skills; management and planning skills; financial management; language training (English and Portuguese). Community representatives can also obtain specific skills in constructing, operating and maintaining their own programs where national NGOs cannot assist. Such an initiative will require both financial assistance and a genuine commitment from international water and sanitation specialists with experience in working in a cross-cultural capacity and providing appropriate technology solutions. When the capacity of national water and sanitation NGOs is strengthened, we will be in a stronger position to train both new staff and partner water user groups in communities.

    4. Community Development and Health Education

    East Timorese communities have a need for national W&S NGOs to play an even greater role in project development than what they are currently able. Extended communication between parties is required to present the options available and assist in identifying the communities' needs and expectations for a water supply program. Under the Community Empowerment Program, 40% of the priorities identified by communities relate to water supply. Funds are available for projects to be implemented directly by the communities, but the process often occurs without appropriate expertise. National NGOs have established many water user groups but lack the resources to develop relationships with all communities in East Timor. There is also a general lack in awareness of the relationship between water and health on the community level. National W&S NGOs are playing a role in health promotion but this should be expanded to address the breadth of the problem.

    4.1 National NGOs should be resourced to carry a more prominent advisory and developmental role in communities and address the area of health education to a greater extent.

    5. National Water and Sanitation NGOs

    Bia Hula Foundation
    (Yayasan Bia Hula)
    Contact: Aleixio da Cruz, ph. 0418 850 074
    Districts: Dili, Ermera, Covalima, Aileu, Ainaro, Bobonaro

    (SD Farol Nia Oin)
    Contact: Armando Lopes ph: 0407 657 967
    Districts: Baucau, Lospalos

    (Hamoris Timor Oan)
    Contact: Antonio Gaspar P, ph: 0409 031 633
    Districts: Liquica

    (Foundasuan Obras ba Rai Timor Independente)
    Contact: Joseph Luan, ph: 0419 078 281
    Districts: Manufahi

    See also:

    Feb 2001 Oxfam Horizons: Muleya: The right to basic services - Water & sanitation  Interview added Mar 23
    "Did you enjoy the time there? It was fabulous. People received our program very well. Oxfam [CAA] was given the task of trying to rehabilitate the water systems in Dili and the western districts after the crisis. They did a great job, got the water going in districts where the destruction was up to 95 percent - with a lot of help from the communities themselves - then handed it over to the government to maintain. They put in new transmission lines, water tanks and pipes, which they call the Oxfam snakes; polythene pipes snaking up the mountains." Clara Muleya, manager, joint Oxfam environmental health program in Liquica province


    CANBERRA June 2001

    There are still tens of thousands of East Timorese who fled across the border to West Timor in September 1999 and who are still waiting in the camps until they think it safe to return to East Timor. Those of greatest concern to the NGO Forum are those who fled from violence and crossed the border by force or in confusion. They are not militia. They are not in receipt of Indonesian Government pensions or salaries. They have been without significant international assistance since the killing of the 3 UNHCR workers in September 2000. They feel trapped in the camps, either because they are uncertain about the situation back home or because they are dominated by militia or camp leaders.

    Recently, the refugees went through a GOI rapid registration process on 6 and 7 June 2001. The NGO community has repeatedly stressed the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of those seeking to return, so that militia cannot instigate further intimidation and reprisals. In addition, the registration process only required heads of families to indicate whether they want to stay in West Timor or return to East Timor. This leaves many family members without the freedom to choose for themselves.

    On 28 May 2001, UNTAET agreed to participate in the socialisation phase of the June 6 registration. If UNTAET is acting in the best interests of the refugees, it should have assessed the legitimacy and security of the process before deciding to participate.

    Similarly, the GOI and UNHCR should be accountable to the international community for funding and implementing the registration process. The continued provision of donor funds to the GOI for the resettlement program should be contingent on maintaining the confidentiality of the process.

    - A comprehensive and independent evaluation of the recent June 6 registration process must be undertaken before the results are accepted by the international community. In particular, close attention should be paid to the issues of confidentiality and registration of heads of families only. The evaluation should include broad representation from NGOs and church organs.

    - In addition, it is an injustice that these persons are being denied the right to participate in the East Timor election of 30 August 2001, unless they meet the unreal condition of returning by the 20 June 2001 - the deadline for the civil registration process. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is no current plan to resettle or repatriate the refugees after result of the registration process. The refugees in West Timor must be given the opportunity to vote in the August 30 elections.

    - While still in the camps, the refugees need ongoing assistance with supplementary feeding and emergency medical care.

    See also:
    BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news

    East Timor National NGO Forum / Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e  Updated June 14
    Umbrella agency for East Timorese Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
    VISION: To contribute to the building of a pluralist, democratic, just and sustainable East Timor through the development of a strong, independent and responsible civil society committed to upholding and making real in the daily life of the community, both village and urban, the full range of human rights so that all East Timorese, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, can enjoy the fruits of liberation and development in an East Timor forever free.
    MISSION: To realise its vision by promoting a culture of learning, cooperation, partnership with the community and respect for human rights and good practice amongst East Timorese NGOs and between them and other development actors, both domestic and international, and by serving as a collective, independent voice for the rights and needs of the community.
    VALUES AND PRINCIPLES: a rights approach to development; inclusiveness, participation; accountability; gender balance; respect for the environment; non-party political; non-sectarian; good governance; volunteerism.
    Kaikoli Street, Dili-East Timor  Telephone +670(390)322772
    E-mail:  Homepage:
    Jun 7 ETNGO Forum: Donors Meeting must be for Rural People:
    Jun 13 ETNGO Forum: The voice of Civil Society calls the Donors:

    See also:
    BD: East Timor National NGO Forum / Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa'e - A collection of recent media releases, position-statements, speeches, petitions, reports, and news

    BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home June news
    Website:  Email:
    Postal address: BACK DOOR GPO Box 59 Canberra City ACT 2601 Australia
    Receive FREE weekly email Web-updates: email and include the words "Subscribe BACK DOOR" in the message header. more info