12th Session of the UPR Working Group
The United States welcomes the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the UPR Working Group.
We commend Timor Leste for its strong voice promoting human rights and democracy around the world and its further development of domestic institutions, including draft legislation on the creation of a Memory Institute and the award of compensation to victims of past human rights violations.
We are concerned by reduced staffing levels in the legal system. This year Timor-Leste’s justice sector had only 20 judges, 17 prosecutors, and 19 public defenders. These staffing levels limit the legal system’s efficiency.
Timor-Leste has made laudable progress in its efforts to professionalize its police and military forces. However, we are concerned that roles for security forces have not been clearly defined and training on how to protect human rights is insufficient.
Despite the creation of the Office of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality and the enactment of the Law against Domestic Violence, gender-based violence remains a critical concern. In addition, human trafficking remains a serious problem for vulnerable populations—including migrants, children, and workers. We note the government’s increased efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking. However, investigations into reports of trafficking-related complicity by immigration officials and prosecutions of trafficking cases have both lagged.
Periodic tensions between Catholics and some Protestant denominations have raised concerns about the status of freedom of religion in Timor-Leste. Recent official statements reinforce those concerns, and the proposed law on NGOs may impede the work of these religious groups.
Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States makes the following concerns that Timor Leste:
1. enact the legislation creating the Memory Institute.
2. increase judicial staffing levels.
3. develop a national security policy that includes clear definitions of various security institutions’ roles and missions
4. train security forces to conduct their duties in conformity with the country’s human rights obligations and commitments.
5. enact legislation prohibiting sexual harassment. And finally
6. enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, and make robust efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders and those complicit in human trafficking.