Victims of serious human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation (1975-1999) continued to demand justice and reparations. Security forces were accused of ill-treatment. Journalists faced defamation charges for carrying out their work.
Presidential and parliamentary elections, held respectively in March and July, took place without incident. In June, Timor-Leste accepted fully 146 out of 154 recommendations made under the UPR process and noted the eight remaining recommendations. Those that were accepted included recommendations to address past human rights violations and ensure the delivery of reparations to victims.
A new government body, the Chega! National Centre – From Memory to Hope (CNC), was established through Decree Law No. 48/2016. The CNC’s purpose was to facilitate the implementation of recommendations made by Timor-Leste’s truth commission (CAVR) in 2005 and the bilateral Timor-Leste and Indonesia Commission of Truth and Friendship in 2008. The main planned activities of the CNC included memorialization, education, solidarity with victims of past human rights violations, and outreach. However, the CNC did not have a mandate to address the CAVR’s recommendations on justice and reparations for victims of serious human rights violations.
Police and security forces
Timorese human rights groups continued to express concern over allegations of unnecessary or excessive use of force and torture and other ill-treatment by security forces, and a lack of accountability. On 22 April, it was reported that members of the Public Order Battalion (BOP) Unit of the National Police beat and kicked a man in Bobonaro District causing bleeding from the nose, ear and mouth. At the end of the year, the alleged abuse was under investigation by the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Suai District.
Freedom of expression – journalists
On 1 June, a court in the capital, Dili, cleared journalists Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins of all charges against them. The charges had been filed by the Public Prosecutor on 17 May in a defamation lawsuit, following assertions made in January 2016 by the then Prime Minister Araújo that the journalists had made false accusations or a “slanderous denunciation” under Article 285(1) of the Criminal Code. The charges were in relation to an article in the Timor Post newspaper alleging official interference during the tendering process for a government IT project.