Promoting the Optional Protocol in Timor-Leste

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

From 14 to 21 November, the APT carried out its very first mission to Timor-Leste, to conduct a needs assessment of national institutions involved in promoting and protecting the rights of people deprived of their liberty. In addition to defining how it could best assist those actors to carry out their detention related activities, the APT used this opportunity to discuss with policy-makers the prospects of ratification and implementation of the OPCAT, which Timor-Leste signed in September 2005.

Purpose:To promote increased prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment through the ratification and implementation of the OPCAT.
Dates:14-21 November 2007
Partners:UNDP-Timor Leste (Human Rights Capacity Building of Provedoria for Human Rights and Justice Project) 
Activities:An in-country mission to Timor-Leste, during which the APT:
  • Discussed the challenges related to the implementation of the Convention against Torture and the prospects for ratification of the OPCAT with relevant government officials and  parliamentarians.
  • Assessed the level to which the current mandate and detention monitoring activities of the NHRI (Provedoría de Direitos Humanos e Justiça - PDHJ) complied with the requirements of the OPCAT.
  • Discussed with Timorese human rights NGOs their role in the work of the Committee against Torture and the OPCAT campaign.
  • Discussed with international actors based in Timor the legal and political challenges faced by Timor-Leste in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment
Outcome:By holding working sessions with a wide range of stakeholders, the APT was able to identify potential partners and avenues for substantial cooperation for 2008 and beyond.
By alerting governmental actors, the NHRC and NGOs to the specificities of the reporting process before the CAT, a high-quality review of Timor-Leste's initial report can be expected.
By disseminating copies of the Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese and English versions of the its OPCAT Manual and Monitoring Guide, the APT raised awareness on the need for greater transparency of places of detention in Timor-Leste in government circles and civil society alike.
Unique Aspects:

This was the APT's first visit to Timor-Leste.

The PDHJ was the most recent NHRI to join the Asia-Pacific Forum for NHRIs.

Documents:Briefing Note, January 2008: BahasaEnglish
Next Steps:

The APT will be organising a training session for the PDHJ and NGOs on the methodology of visits to places of detention in the course of 2008. The APF has already indicated its willingness to support such a project.

The APT is considering providing the Timorese government with expertise on the setting up of a National Preventive Mechanism under the OPCAT.

Contact Person:Philippe Tremblay, APT Asia-Pacific Programme Officer