BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   March news


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 LH: Sexton: Update on ET NGO Forum: Rushed Constitutional Process  Letter & News added Mar 29
"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

"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

Dear East Timor supporters,

The East Timorese NGO Forum sent the following letter to members of the United Nations Security Council on 17 March. The letter expresses serious concern over the rushed electoral and constitutional process being pushed by UNTAET's Political Affairs Office.

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.

[In Australia: Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Fax: 02 6273 7500, E-mail: BD]

-- Pamela Sexton, La'o Hamutuk

The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis/
Instituto ba Analiza no Monitor Rekonstrusaun Timor Lorosa'e/
Institut Pemantau dan Analisis Rekonstruksi Timor Lorosa'e
P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin Australia)
Mobil phone: (61)(0408)811373   Land phone: (670)(390)325013
Tetum and English editions of our Bulletin are available at our website

East Timor National NGO Forum
Kaikoli Street,  Dili-East Timor
telephone 322772/

East Timor, Dili 17 March 2001

Members of Security Council United Nations
UN HQ in New York

Dear Members of the Security Council,

We are writing to you on behalf of the East Timorese NGOs to inform you of our serious concerns regarding the constitutional and
electoral process. We ask that you consider our recommendations as we strongly believe that this will assist in the fulfillment of your
responsibility towards the East Timorese people.

Under Security Council Resolution 1272 (1999) of 25th of October 1999, you gave UNTAET all executive and legislative powers,
including the administration of justice in East Timor. In the execution of those powers, UNTAET was due to consult and cooperate
closely with the East Timorese people in order to carry out its mandate effectively.

The current transitional process is the last stage of a process which began with the Popular Consultation, and which will end with the
adoption of the constitution. The adoption of the Constitution will be the final step for the East Timorese people to fulfill their right to
self-determination, through internal self-determination.

A Constitution is a complex document embodying fundamental choices about the type of country an independent East Timor will be.
This Constitution has to be a living document, which reflects how the East Timorese as a people see themselves, relate to each
other, and finally, after many centuries, govern themselves.

So, how are the East Timorese people to make those fundamental decisions? By ensuring that a legitimate constitutional process

To achieve this legitimacy, we need to establish a process that will provide the East Timorese people with a real opportunity to have
their views on the key issues reflected in the drafting of the Constitution. This process will need to balance the urgency of East Timor
becoming an independent country with the essential need for the Constitution to be a document reflecting the aspirations of the East
Timorese people.

For this to happen, the East Timorese people have to be provided with the information on the choices that have to be made,
information on what a Constitution is, information on the options available to them on the fundamental issues. They will then need
time to consider and debate so that they are able to form opinions, time to hold discussions in order to seek consensus where
opinions are divided, and finally time to officially record their views. None of this can happen in three months.

The proposed timeframe being pushed by UNTAET and some East Timorese leaders would only allow consultation on the
constitutional process to take place over a period of approximately three months due to the rush to hold the election on the 30th of
August. This is forgetting that the very purpose of the election is to establish a Constituent Assembly that will draft the Constitution.
The Constituent Assembly will not be in a position to carry out any further consultation on the Constitution with the East Timorese
people. It will be under enormous pressure to deliver the document that will declare the independence of East Timor. The Constituent
Assembly will have 90 days within which to prepare and adopt the Constitution. At the same time, it is envisaged that the
Constituent Assembly would be the only body with East Timorese representation, able to perform legislative functions.

All the legitimate constitutional processes that have taken place in recent years were carried out over a period of three to four years.
The consultation process for the South African Constitution lasted over three years. A three-month process would rob the East
Timorese of their right to contribute to the future of their country and it will alienate them from the very document that should voice
their aspirations.

A legitimate process can happen within a reasonable timeframe.

A draft regulation establishing a Constitutional Commission is being debated in the National Council. The proposed regulation
provides for a nine-month consultation period together with a further three months to finalize the report and draw up recommendations
for the drafting of the Constitution. It is still a very ambitious and tight timeframe, but it is one which, we believe, can produce a
legitimate process, taking into account the size of East Timor and the determination of its population to actively participate in this
process. In effect, it represents no more than a three-month addition to the initially proposed timetable.

The proposed Commission will have a critical task, and it is therefore essential to ensure that this body is provided with the mandate
and the capacity to effectively carry it out. The proposed structure and composition of the Commission will ensure that the
constitutional process is treated with the seriousness and the comprehensiveness that it deserves and that the East Timorese
people deserve.

Consultation is not a simple process. To be effective, the Commission will need to ensure dissemination of information on the
questions to be decided, that adequate time for reflection and discussion to form opinions is provided, and finally to establish a
mechanism through which these views can be formally expressed and recorded.

At this critical juncture, we ask that the Security Council fulfils its responsibility towards the East Timorese people as the body
entrusted with assisting them to realize their rights to self-determination.

This requires that the UN Security Council ensures that:

*  a Constitutional Commission is established as a formal and effective mechanism for consultation throughout East Timor on the

*  the Constitutional Commission is adequately resourced to carry out its functions within the limited time available to it;

*  the timeframe provided for consultation with the East Timorese people is at least 9 months with a further three months for

We believe that such steps are essential if the UN Security Council is to fulfil its mandate towards the East Timorese people.


1.  Manuela L. Pereira     Executive Director of FOKUPERS, Forum for Communication for East Timorese Women
2.  Florentina Santos     Representante from ETWAVE, East Timorese Women against Violence
3.  Oracio Mendes     Representante from Oportunudade Timor Loro Sae
4.  Duarte da Costa     Representante from Tane Hamutuk Timor
5.  Agostinho Sequeira     Represenntante from AHCAE
6.  Agostinho  S. Goncalves     Director Yayasan Fundacao CRISTAL
7.  Martinus Koli     Representante from DENORE
8.  Joao B. Santos     Representante from Fundacao Buka Matenek
9.  Joao B. Santos     Representante from AVE VERAM
10. Jose caetano Guterres     Representante from SATILOS
11. Graciano F. Pinto     Representante from HOTFLIMA
12. Jose Luis de Oliveira     Vice Director of Yayasan HAK, Human Rights Foundation
13. Adaljiza AXR. Magno     Advocacy officer for Sahe Institute for Liberation
14. Arlindo Dias Sanches     Representante from ANMEFTil, East Timorese Jurists Association
15. Mark Salzer     Representante from La’o Hamutuk
16. Laurindo Seixas     Director Forum Demokrasi Maubere
17. Tomas   Lira     Director of Fundacao Haburas Loro Sae, Foundation for the Environment
18.  Marta  Borromeu     Secretaris of HANU ( Hadahur Hananu)
19.  Fransisco Vasconcelhos     Director of Halibur Aswain Timor LoroSae
20.  Cipriano Oliveira     Director of Fundacao Comunicacao da Juventude
21.  Egas de A. Moniz     Director of Hatan foundation
22. Ana  Paula Sequeira     Director of  FFSO, Young Womens Group
23.  Jose da Costa Magno     Representante from Kadalak Sulimutu Institut
24.  Antonio Amaral da Silva     Director of HTO
25.  Manuel Miras de Jesus Freitas     Secretary/Director of ASA
26.  Catarina     Secretary of IKFET.
27.  Estorninho do R. Exposto     Representante from New Day Foundation
28.  Filomena  Barros do Reis     Representative of REDE, East Timorese Womens Network

East Timor National NGO Forum
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.
E-mail:  Homepage:
La'o Hamutuk: East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
La'o Hamutuk (Tetum for Walking Together) is a joint East Timorese-international organization that seeks to monitor, to analyze, and to report on the reconstruction activities of the principal international institutions. It believes that the people of East Timor must be the ultimate decisionmakers in the reconstruction process and that the process should be as democratic and transparent as possible ...
East Timorese staff: Inès Martins, Benjamin Sanchez Afonso; International staff: Pamela Sexton, Mark Salzer Executive board: Sr. Maria Dias, Joseph Nevins, Fr. Jovito Rego de Jesus Araùjo, Aderito Soares
International contact: +1-510-643-4507  Email:  Homepage:
La’o Hamutuk Bulletin:

Tetum: (the most common East Timorese language)
La’o Hamutuk, Instituto Timor Lorosa’e ba Analiza no Monitoring Reconstrucao
Saida mak La’o Hamutuk? La’o Hamutuk organizasaun klibur Ema Timor Lorosa’e no Ema Internacional ne’ebe buka atu tau matan, halo analize ho halo relatorio kona ba hahalok (actividade) instuisaun internacional ne’ebe oras ne’e haknaar iha Timor Lorosa’e, liu-liu hahalok sira ne’ebe iha relasaun ho rekonstrusaun fizika no social Timor Lorosa’e nian. La’o Hamutuk fiar katak Povo Timor Lorosa’e mak tenke hakotu iha procesu rekonstrusaun ne’e nia laran no procesu rekonstrusaun ne’e tenke demokratiku no transparante duni.
Local Contact:  P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia)  Mobile: +61(408)811373;  Land phone: +670(390)325-013
International contact: +1-510-643-4507
Email:  Homepage:
Boletim La’o Hamutuk: [Tetum PDF format]
Vol. 1, No. 3. 17 Novembro 2000 Hari Sistema Saude Nasional iha Timor Lorosa’e:
Vol. 1, No. 2, 17 Julho 2000 Protesaun ba meio ambiente iha TL:
Vol. 1, No. 1, 21 Juñu 2000 Rekonciliasaun:

BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   March news
Website:  Email:
Snail mail: BACK DOOR, GPO Box 59, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia