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Timor-Leste’s Bill of Rights

Timor-Leste’s Bill of Rights: A Preliminary History OPEN ACCESS

Foreword by Adérito de Jesus Soares
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Timor-Leste’s Bill of Rights
    Book Description:

    The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste of 2002 contains over 40 human rights provisions in its Bill of Rights. In addition to providing an overview of the process leading up to the adoption of the Constitution, this book brings together information relating to each section of the Bill of Rights, presenting: progressive texts produced during the process of the Constituent Assembly; highlights of the arguments put forward within the Constituent Assembly concerning the draft provisions, including alternative proposals advanced; submissions made by Timorese officials, civil society and international bodies; and the results of consultation with the broader community before and during the constitutional process. It is designed to be useful in particular to judges and legal practitioners called upon to interpret the Constitution, government officials and civil society actors involved in human rights work, as well as students of history and constitutional law in Timor-Leste and internationally.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-39-1
    Subjects: Law, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword (pp. ix-x)

    Reading this book brings me back to one of the most exciting periods in Timor’s history – the six months of our constitutional debate. The original timeframe granted by the United Nations was actually shorter. I recall joking in the early sitting days of the Constituent Assembly: ‘Better we draft a 60-article Constitution, given that we only have 60 effective working days.’ Eventually, the timeframe was extended, after some lobbying and public pressure. Following my involvement in the resistance effort that preceded independence, I was again privileged to be a part of the making of my country’s history, in drafting...

  2. Part 1
    • Introduction (pp. 3-16)

      On 20 May 2002, the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste¹ came into force. Some two months prior to this, the 88 members of Timor’s Constituent Assembly adopted the final text and took part in a formal signing ceremony. As each member was called up to the podium, it was a time both of solemnity and celebration. Not all members had voted in favour of the final text² and the previous six months of the Assembly’s operation had witnessed a number of vigorous debates. However, during the ceremonial sitting, all members signed the Constitution, displaying pride in the significance...

    • From September 2001 until March 2002, an elected Constituent Assembly deliberated on a Constitution for what was to become the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. At the time of its functioning, Timor was being governed by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) pursuant to a Security Council mandate.¹ The United Nations’ assumption of power followed an international military intervention to restore peace and security in Timor. It was necessitated by the widespread atrocities that occurred before and after the Popular Consultation of August 1999, in which an overwhelming majority of Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. By the...

  3. Part 2 Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill of Rights
    • Draft texts: The key texts of the draft Constitution presented are:

      (1) Thematic Committee I’s text of 7 November 2001.¹

      (2) The Systematisation and Harmonisation Committee text presented to the Assembly on 29 November 2001, and given ’in principle’ approval by the Plenary on 30 November 2001.² It was this version that was used as the basis for the plenary debates.

      (3) The revised text approved by the Plenary on 9 February 2002 prior to the public consultation process.³

      (4) The final text of the Constitution approved and adopted on 22 March 2002.⁴

      As discussed in the Introduction to Part...

    • 1. All citizens are equal before the law, shall exercise the same rights and shall be subject to the same duties.

      2. No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of colour, race, marital status, gender, ethnical [ethnic] origin, language, social or economic status, political or ideological convictions, religion, education and physical or mental condition.

      (Official translation of the final text)

      1.All citizens are equal before the law, shall exercise the same rights and shall be subject to the same duties.

      2.No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of colour, race, gender, ethnical [ethnic] origin, social or economic status, political or...

    • 1. Human life is inviolable.

      2. The State shall recognise and guarantee the right to life.

      3. There shall be no death penalty in the Democratic Republic of East Timor.

      (Official translation of the final text)

      1.Human life is inviolable.

      2.The State shall recognise and respect the right to life.

      3.There shall be no death penalty in the Democratic Republic of East Timor.

      Commentary: Subsection (1) came from art 29 of the PSD Project which was initially rejected (in a vote of 5:8:6), but later approved unanimously as part of the committee’s general revisions.

      Subsections (2) and (3) originated from art 23 of...

    • 1. Every citizen, regardless of gender, has the right and the duty to work and to choose freely his or her profession.

      2. The worker has the right to labour safety and hygiene, remuneration, rest and vacation.

      3. Dismissal without just cause or on political, religious and ideological grounds is prohibited.

      4. Compulsory work, without prejudice to the cases provided for under penal legislation, is prohibited.

      5. The State shall promote the establishment of co-operatives of production and shall lend support to household businesses as sources of employment.

      (Official translation of the final text)

      1.Every citizen has the right and the duty to work and...