The F-FDTL should not arbitrarily take on the role of the police, and this role should never include threats to take extrajudicial actions which violate fundamental human rights,
Police officials have made similar threats (see for example http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/
While there have been a few worrying examples of violence against property during the Presidential campaign, police or soldiers should not summarily punish perceived lawbreakers. Everyone accused of a crime has a right to a fair trial.
After suffering 24 years of illegal Indonesian occupation, Timor-Leste is struggling to create a government and society based on the rule of law, which respects fundamental human rights. These rights, as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, include the right not to "be arbitrarily deprived of his life." (Article 6) The Covenant also protects free expression (Article 19) and bars arbitrary punishment and detention without charge (Article 9).
Timor-Leste ratified the covenant and other key human rights treaties soon after independence in 2002. Timor-Leste's constitution establishes a "State based on the rule of law, the will of the people and the respect for the dignity of the human person" (Section 1) and integrates approved international conventions into domestic law (Section 9), as well as guaranteeing freedom of speech (Section 40).
Commander Lere's comments on election security were especially inappropriate because the internal security role of the military is limited. Under Timor-Leste's constitution (Section 146), military forces are to defend against external threats or aggression, and are involved in domestic security only when the police request backup in an emergency or when the President has declared a state of siege or emergency.
The F-FDTL should not arbitrarily take on the role of the police, and this role should never include threats to take extrajudicial actions which violate fundamental human rights, like those recently made by the F-FDTL commander.
Fundasaun Mahein recently wrote "There is currently no directive from the Ministry of Defence and Security outlining the function of the F-FDTL in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections."
The organization also urged Timor-Leste's security forces not to "take the law into their own hands by applying the system of shoot first, ask later." The military and police are supposed "to protect and serve the community and to uphold the rule of law."
ETAN was formed in 1991. ETAN will be monitoring Timor-Leste's upcoming Parliamentary election and has been present at every Timor election since the 1999 vote on independence. ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN's web site: http://www.etan.org; Twitter: @etan009
* This quote in the article is translated from the original Tetum. As reported by the Independente newspaper, Lere said "Atu garante eleisaun la'o di'ak, atu dehan ba se de'it maka halo krimi nia tenki simu konsekuensia tama kumarka, ou selai baisa iha ospital ka tiru mate no nia fatin maka iha rate."
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ETAN is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working in solidarity with the peoples of East Timor and Indonesia. ETAN provides information about, and ways to help, East Timor (Timor-Leste)