Legal Research in Timor-Leste


By Lindsey Greising and Nelinho Vital


Lindsey Greising is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and a member of the New York Bar. She has worked in Timor-Leste in various roles since 2005, including work on an access to justice project for domestic violence survivors as well as providing advice to a local NGO on constitutional law, access to justice, rule of law, child rights, women’s rights, and international human rights law.


Nelinho Vital received his law degree from Indonesia in 2002 and Master of Law in 2011 from Gadjah Mada University. He currently works as the Director for the National Department on Legislation in the Ministry of Justice for Timor-Leste.


Published October 2014
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Table of Contents

1.      History

2.      Structure of Government

2.1. Political

2.2.   Courts

2.3.   Legislative Process

2.4.   Local Government

3.      Legislation of Timor-Leste

3.1. Constitutional Law

3.2.   Criminal Law

3.3.   Civil Law

3.4.   Business, Labor and Economy

3.4.1.      Labor Law

3.4.2.      Petroleum-Related

3.4.3.      Business

3.4.4.      Governance Elections and Political Parties

3.4.5.      Tax and Customs

3.4.6.      Budget

3.5.   Court Decisions

4.      Legal Research in Timor-Leste

4.1. Enforcement

4.2. Language

4.3. Where to Find Information

4.3.1.      Legislation & Policy

4.3.2.      Draft Legislation

4.3.3.      Court Decisions

5.         Other Resources


1.      History

Timor-Leste is a demi-island nation of just over a million people, which occupies one half (the eastern portion, with a small enclave called Oecusse in the north-center) of the island of Timor in the Indonesian island chain, just west of Papua New Guinea and north of Australia. While the rest of Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch, the Portuguese landed in Timor-Leste in Oecusse in 1515 and, finding it rich with sandalwood and other natural resources, colonized part of the island for itself. Portuguese colonialism took a relatively hands-off form in which Timor was largely used as a resource producing land for Portugal with little or no integration or development of the local community during its more than 450 year rule. The Portuguese style utilized local kings and kinship groups to consolidate its power— pitting families against other families and providing opportunity only to those few chosen elites. Portuguese colonization was interrupted only briefly during World War II, when the Japanese invaded and overtook the island, brutalizing the local population, and putting innocent Timorese in the crosshairs of the battle which brought Australia to the island to combat the Japanese. After the 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal changed Portuguese policy toward its colonies, Portugal provided Timor-Leste an opportunity for a popular consultation to vote on its independence, which it overwhelmingly did—winning independence from Portugal in 1975.


Disorganized and tasting autonomy for the first time, the Timorese were unable to consolidate rule, and two main political parties dissolved into civil war. Citing this as a potentially destabilizing factor in the region, and exploiting the leading political party’s (FRETILIN) alleged Communist tendencies, Indonesia invaded in December 1975 with the support of some western countries. Utilizing brutal tactics and local militias, the Indonesians began an occupation which would last until 1999 despite a continual guerrilla war with FRETILIN’s “Falintil” guerrilla fighters. The occupation was marked by mass starvation, political repression, numerous political prisoners who were tortured, significant disappearances and deaths, and constant fighting. Finally, in April 1999, due, in part, to international pressure and changes in Indonesian leadership, the Timorese people were again given the chance to decide their fate in a vote for independence or autonomy. Amid significant intimidation campaigns by Indonesian-supported militias and the brutal Indonesian security forces, the Timorese finally voted in August 1999. Immediately after the vote, in which more than 70% of the population turned-out and overwhelmingly supported independence rather than autonomy, Indonesia implemented a scorched-earth campaign, destroying nearly 85% of infrastructure in the country and reportedly killing thousands of people. The atrocities were only stopped when an international peacekeeping force was brought-in.


The UN Security Council established the United Nations Transitional Administration in Timor-Leste (UNTAET) on October 25th, 1999 to embark on the new journey of administering Timor-Leste during its transition to an independent democratic country. UNTAET handed-over authority in 2002 to Timor-Leste’s first democratically elected government. This stability was to be short-lived as a political crisis broke-out in 2006 when some police and military members led a revolt, resulting in the ouster of the then Prime-Minister Mari Alkatiri from FRETILIN Party, the shooting of Jose Ramos-Horta, the attempted assassination of Xanana Gusmão, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. The UN again sent-in peacekeepers to calm the situation. After the 2007 Parliamentary and Presidential elections, the country was reorganized with Ramos-Horta taking the presidency, Xanana Gusmão moving to Prime Minister at the head of a coalition government of five parties (PD, PSD, FRENTE-Mudanca, UNDERTIM and ASDT) known as the Alianca Maioria Parlamentar (AMP). FRETILIN become the opposition party. The UN forces remained until December 2012, and the situation has been generally peaceful since. New elections were held in fall 2012, which saw some violence but were heralded as peaceful and fair by international and national observers. The elections again saw Gusmão, from the CNRT party, as the Prime-Minister in the power-sharing agreement with two other parties (PD and FRENTE-Mudanca) and left FRETILIN again as the opposition party. Nonetheless, the government has successfully governed to date.


As a result of this tapestried and turbulent history, in addition to its relatively recent autonomy, Timor-Leste’s legal and political systems are not yet fully functioning. A Portuguese colony for more than 450 years with renewed ties through the CPLP (Corporation of Portuguese Language Countries) and Portuguese as an official language, Timor-Leste draws significant law from its former colonizers. In addition to brutality, the twenty four years of Indonesian rule left many of its legal traditions behind as well. The United Nations presence transitioning the country into independence also brought with it additional laws and new traditions. These UN-developed laws build most of the foundation of present-day Timorese law, and many of them are available in English and Portuguese, making legal research in Timor-Leste much easier for laws from 2000 until 2012, when the United Nations left. While Indonesian and Portuguese legislation no longer form part of the official legislative index, Timor-Leste may refer to these traditions in dealing with cases that relate to such times or to provide context and clarity. United Nations-developed legislation remains in-force unless it has been overruled with new legislation.


Moreover, Timor-Leste has a significant tradition of informal law administered by local leaders and family heads. Due, in part, to the fact that the formal system is still too underdeveloped to reach the widely-dispersed populations of the country, these traditional systems remain active and influential. While largely unwritten, a few such systems have more recently been codified through various efforts to standardize and ensure that they meet basic principles. Traditional “trials” under the informal system are headed by the cultural, family or other local leaders in the community, and involve a truth-telling system that is relatively informal in its organization. Often, the goal is not retribution but, rather, reconciliation and community harmony. Currently, there is no legislation which regulates the intersection of informal and formal law— and the Constitution explicitly recognizes respect for cultural history and traditions— opening another level of complexity to the legal system and creating issues of double jeopardy and conflicts of law.


2.      Structure of Government


2.1.   Political

As a burgeoning democracy, with a history of donor and international support, Timor-Leste is developing strong political structures. The country uses a semi-presidential system. Parliamentary seats are awarded based on party votes in open elections every five years, with a requirement that at least every third candidate on all party lists be a woman. All Timorese citizens aged 17 and older are allowed to vote. [1] New elections will be held in 2017, at the latest, though there is speculation that elections may be held earlier. The Prime Minister, who is currently Kay Rala (“Xanana”) Gusmão, is chosen by the party winning the largest votes in parliamentary elections. Currently, the Prime Minister wields significant power. The President, who is elected by direct ballot rather than party list, fills a largely figure-head position, but does wield important power as the head of the military and security forces. S/he also retains power to veto legislation.


2.2.   Courts

Timor-Leste utilizes a civil law system and is developing its courts systems quickly due to an influx of international advisers and donor support. However, as a still developing country with an illiteracy rate of more than 50 percent— few of whom received formal education under the Portuguese and Indonesians— Timor-Leste still lacks the necessary human capital to staff its legal system, and lacks funds to ensure its success. For example, Timor-Leste has a burgeoning court system; however, there remain only six courts (five permanent and one traveling) serving the entire country. And, due to the inexperienced and understaffed nature of courts, case backlog is quite common. Courts include the four “District Courts” and one Court of Appeals. The District Courts each hear cases from about four surrounding districts (of thirteen total) and include: Dili District, Suai District, Baucau District and Oecusse District. The Court of Appeals hears appeals brought from the District Courts in addition to serving the functions assigned to the Supreme Court of Justice in the Constitution, until such time as the SCJ is established. In addition, the Court of Appeals has established its “Camara da Contas” which brings reviews of government offices.


While the Constitution, in Article 123, establishes various courts, few are currently set-up as Timor-Leste still lacks necessary capacity to run numerous courts. The Constitution provides for: The Supreme Court of Justice and other courts of law; The High Administrative, Tax and Audit Court and other administrative courts of first instance; and c) Military Courts. Currently, only the District Courts and the Court of Appeals exist: the Court of Appeals is serving the functions of the Supreme Court of Justice, and an office within the Court of Appeals is conducting work of the High Administrative, Tax and Audit Court.


The Constitution further legislates such that: “Courts of exception shall be prohibited and there shall be no special courts to judge certain categories of criminal offense. There may be Maritime Courts and Arbitration Courts. The law shall determine the establishment, organization and functioning of the courts provided for in the preceding items. [And, t]he law may institutionalize means and ways for the non-jurisdictional resolution of disputes.” [2]


Proceedings are conducted in either Tetum or Portuguese, with translation provided in either language as necessary. All persons are entitled to a defense, and the Timorese Office of the Public Defender, in addition to a few and growing number of private lawyers, serve this role. Requirements to perform as a private lawyer are currently listed in Law No. 11/2008, but final versions of a draft law on the practice of law are currently being developed.


As a civil law country, court decisions are not binding as law; however, they may be looked to for guidance. And, the country utilizes the Portuguese “Fixativa Resultada” in which the highest court may pronounce a decision binding on lower courts. In addition to hearing cases, the Timorese courts, specifically the Supreme Court of Justice (which the Court of Appeals currently covers), are empowered to provide judicial review of legislation. This review can be requested by the President. Moreover, the Courts are to approve election results and, if necessary, settle election disputes as referred to the court by the CNE.


Due to the lack of resources in this developing country, a thriving database of jurisprudence has been slow to develop. However, some decisions can be found online at the Court of Appeals website . All decisions are published and available in hard copy from the Court of Appeals in Dili. In addition, relevant NGOs working in the justice sector produce case summaries relevant to their work which are published online. The Justice System Monitoring Project (JSMP) and The Legal Assistance for Women and Children (ALFeLa) both consistently publish works through the e-newsletter, ETAN, some of which is available here . JSMP also has its own site . The East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin also posts court reports from JSMP.


2.3.   Legislative Process

Legislation in Timor-Leste is made by either the 1) Parliament, 2) Parliamentary groups or 3) Government. [3] The Ministries in Government draft and pass “Decree Laws” in areas constitutionally assigned to them, which are then sent to the Council of Ministers for promulgation. Parliamentary legislation is proposed and debated in the various Committees relevant to the legislation. These laws are then sent for full vote of the Parliament. Approved legislation is sent to the President for promulgation or veto. The Parliamentary Committees include the:

·         Committee on Constitutional, Justice, Public Administration, Local Power and Anti-Corruption

·         Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security

·         Committee on Public Finance

·         Committee on Economy and Development

·         Committee on Infrastructure, transportation & Communication

·         Committee on Health, Education and Culture, Veterans and Gender Equality; and

·         Committee on Ethics


Legislation that has been tabled cannot be introduced again in the same session; it must be reintroduced in a new session. All legislation must be published in the Official Gazette (Jornal da República), which is posted online, mainly in Portuguese.  This can be opened here or here .


2.4.   Local Government

In addition to formal rule of law systems, local or community-based systems remain extremely relevant and powerful in Timor-Leste. The Law 3/2009 on Community Leadership and their Election governs leadership, elections and functions of local “councils.” The Law provides for elections of local “suco” councils, which must entail at least three women (one of whom is a youth) as well as elections for smaller administrative “aldeia” (village) leaders. The positions are to be held for six years, with the possibility of two terms. [4] The local leaders have traditionally played a role as head of a community and de facto judges of family and community disputes. In addition, they now receive funds from the Ministry of State Administration for their work, and provide governance for local issues such as community projects, awareness-raising activities, local development projects, and other work as necessary. Under Law 3/2009 Art. 10(1), the Councils and their leaders are empowered to work in the following areas, though all work, if conflicting, is subordinated to the national government: (a) Peace and social harmony; (b) Population census and registration; (c) Civic education; (d) Promotion of the official languages; (e) Economic development; (f) Food safety; (g) Environmental protection; (h) Education, culture and sports; (i) Assistance in the maintenance of social infrastructures, such as housing, schools, health centers, opening of water wells, roads and communications. [5]


Few councils have written codes, and the central government retains significant power in governance issues. Additionally, no formal legislation has yet been drafted to regulate the interaction between formal and informal courts. Thus, for example, while official legislation requires domestic violence cases to be tried in the formal courts, many cases are still brought in local tribunals— thereby creating issues of double jeopardy and conflicting punishment.


Currently, the Ministry of State Administration is the overseeing body of these councils, providing funding and general management. It should be noted, however, that Timor-Leste is currently engaging in a “decentralization” or “municipalization” process which would shift these dynamics, though it is not yet clear exactly how things will change.


3.      Legislation of Timor-Leste

The Constitution is the most persuasive legislation in the country. It does, however, specifically incorporate— and make supreme— all international treaties to which Timor-Leste is party. [6] It also makes reference to respect for local or traditional cultures and laws. [7] Due to a concerted effort by the government, the legacy of the UN transitional authority, and the investment of numerous donors and international advisers, Timor-Leste now has a relatively comprehensive legislative framework, though its implementation remains weak in many areas.


3.1.    Constitutional Law

The Timorese Constitution largely codifies its human rights commitments in Part II, including civil and political rights (Part II, Title II) and economic, social and cultural rights (Part II, Title III). These titles guarantee respect for most basic and internationally-accepted human rights. Moreover, § 9 of the Constitution, which incorporates all international treaties to which Timor-Leste is a state party, ensures any additional rights created through treaty commitments but not mentioned in the Constitution would also be protected. These rights are given effect in more detail through specific laws passed by Parliament or the Government.


Part III of the Constitution creates the legal framework for power and governance in the country. The Constitution makes clear that Timor-Leste is founded on universal, democratic principles and separation of powers. (See, e.g. Art. 96).


Under Title II, which governs Presidential powers, “[i]t is exclusively incumbent upon the President of the Republic to: promulgate statutes related to international treaties; [and] Exercise competencies inherent in the functions of Supreme Commander of the Defence Force.” [8] The President is also responsible for appointing and swearing-in the Prime Minister once s/he is designated by Parliament. He may also request the Supreme Court of Justice to review the Constitutionality of laws, and is responsible for declaring war and making peace agreements under authorization of Parliament. [9] The President must also exercise the power to veto laws. [10]


The power to initiate laws lies with: The Members of Parliament; The parliamentary groups; and The Government. Bills and draft legislation that have been rejected may not be re-introduced in the same legislative session in which they have been tabled. And, bills and draft legislation that have not been voted on shall not need to be re-introduced in the ensuing legislative session, except in case of end of the legislative term. Draft legislation shall lapse with the dismissal of the Government. [11]

Title III spells-out the role of Parliament.  It provides exclusive authority to legislate in specific areas and gives the Parliament power to ratify appointments to Courts. In addition, the Parliament is the monitor and reviews the Government, especially regarding the State budget and plan. The Parliament may also approve or denounce treaties. [12] The Council of Ministers (Section 116) defines the general guidelines of Governmental policy as well as those for its implementation; deliberates on a request for a vote of confidence from the National Parliament; and approves bills, draft resolutions, statutes, international agreements that are not required to be submitted to the National Parliament, and actions by the Government that involve an increase or decrease in public revenues or expenditures.


The National Parliament may authorize the Government to make laws in specific areas, which are outlined in Section 96 of the Constitution. [13]


The Government is accountable to the President of the Republic and to the National Parliament for conducting and executing the domestic and foreign policy in accordance with the Constitution and the law. It is incumbent upon the Government to, among other things, ensure public order and social discipline; prepare the State Plan and the State Budget and execute them following their approval by the National Parliament; define and implement the foreign policy of the country; and lead the country’s social, economic and social security sectors. [14]


It is also incumbent upon the Government in relation with other organs:

·        To submit bills and draft resolutions to the National Parliament;

·        To propose to the President of the Republic the declaration of war or the making of peace;

·        To propose to the President of the Republic the submission to referendum of relevant issues of national interest; and

·        To propose to the President of the Republic the appointment of ambassadors, permanent representatives and special envoys. [15]


The Government has exclusive legislative powers on matters concerning its own organization and functioning, as well as on the direct and indirect management of the State. [16]


The Prime Minister is to be Head of Government and chair the Council of Ministers. S/he is Constitutionally mandated to: lead and guide the general policy of the Government and co-ordinate the activities of all Ministers, and to keep the President of the Republic informed on matters of domestic and

foreign policy of the Government. [17]


3.2.    Criminal Law

The laws of Timor-Leste include a Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code, which form the basis of its criminal law. Other statutes, such as the Law Against Domestic Violence, incorporate the Penal Code by reference and therefore utilize the criminal system. It is important to note that Timor-Leste does not separate its courts by criminal and civil courts— all cases go through the same system: first through one of the four (or one mobile) District Courts, and then to the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of Justice, constitutionally to be the highest court, is not yet established.

The Penal Procedure Code is expansive in that it includes all rules for procedure as well as evidence and sentencing. It largely follows the Portuguese tradition. There is no death penalty in Timor-Leste, with the highest punishment being a term of 30 years in prison. [18] Judges are authorized to give fines or jail sentences as prescribed by the Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code, with significant discretion to weigh evidence and other factors. Chapter II of the Penal Procedure Code lays-out rules for restrictive measures, which allow for pre-trial detention, and Chapter III discusses fines.

Timor-Leste currently has no juvenile justice law. Under the current law, any juvenile under 16 years of age is immune from criminal responsibility, and those 16-21 are to fall within the juvenile justice system, which has not yet been established. [19] In practice, however, this is not followed as juvenile offenders are often processed and several have been incarcerated. There is a draft juvenile justice law to alleviate these issues; however, its passage is currently stalled.


3.3.    Civil Law

The Civil Code of Timor-Leste is expansive— encompassing family law matters, some property issues, contracts, and civil law generally. The Civil Procedure Code of Timor-Leste closely follows the Portuguese tradition. There is no English version available of the Civil Procedure Code, other than a draft law.


3.4.    Business, Labor and Economy


3.4.1.      Labor Law

The Timorese Parliament passed its Labor Law in 2011, which governs both labor and employment law. The law provides, inter alia, significant maternity and paternity leave, a 13-month bonus salary, mandatory paid vacation, sick and family leave, and many additional protections. It also establishes specific procedures for termination and winding-up as well as procedures and relief for cases of wrongful termination. In addition, it codifies laws regarding rights and procedures for unions. Implementation and awareness of the law remain slow to develop.


3.4.2.      Petroleum-Related

As a country heavily dependent on petroleum funds, Timor-Leste has enacted clear legislation on petroleum issues. It has also adopted a specific law regulating the use and reporting of petroleum dollars. That legislation can be found at: Petroleum Fund Law, Law No. 9/2005 (13 July 2005) (Amended by First Amendment to Law 9/2005, Law No. 12/2011 (19 Nov. 2011) (“The Petroleum Fund Amendments of 2011”)). Moreover, the Ministry of Finance keeps a “ transparency portal ” related the fund.  In addition, the watchdog NGO, “ La’o Hamutuk ” (walk together), provides extensive analysis and information on the industry in both English and Tetum.


3.4.3.      Business

Timor-Leste has developed a broad base of business regulations including efficient procedures for registering a business, though implementation remains slow to develop. For more information on business law in Timor-Leste, click here .


3.5.    Governance


3.5.1.      Elections and Political Parties

Independent only since 2002, Timor-Leste has seen just two rounds of elections. Nonetheless, in that short history, it has established, and largely followed, modern election norms. The Timorese election laws are divided into: election of the Parliament; election of the President; finance; and political party law. The laws on elections have been amended several times, producing a large body of law. The Constitution sets terms of five years for both the Parliament and the President, [20] with the President elected first and then calling for Parliamentary elections within a certain timeframe thereafter. These timeframes have been followed in both elections thus far. As a parliamentary system, the election laws govern party lists and financing. Therefore, specific laws focus more largely on party finance and actions rather than those of individual candidates.


Two specific and separate bodies responsible for elections have been established by law: the Comissão Nacional de Eleições (National Election Commission) and Secretariado Técnico de Aministração Eleitoral (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat), which produce policies and guidelines for elections. The STAE is responsible for the general running and procedures of elections— implementing voter registration, ballot collection, etc. The CNE is responsible for the overall monitoring and enforcement of election laws. Complaints can be submitted to CNE, which hears and refers them to the courts as appropriate. [21]


3.5.2.      Tax and Customs

Timor-Leste has passed legislation on tax and customs, but enforcement remains weak in both areas. The ministry responsible for implementation is the Ministry of Finance, which makes all laws and tax information available on its websit e .


3.5.3.      Budget

Under the Budget and Financial Administration Law, Law No. 13/2009 (15 Oct. 2009). Budgets are submitted annually by the Government to the Council of Ministers for approval by a majority vote. Following review, the Council of Ministers submits the proposed budget to the National Parliament around October each year. After initial review, Parliament refers the Government’s proposed budget to the Committees, which interview the relevant Ministers, take public comments, and then prepare a report of their findings. The Parliament then reassembles and conducts Parliamentary debate, including proposed amendments.


The Government and Parliament make the state budget available here . In addition, the “ Transparency Portal ” is established as a means of increasing transparency, and provides information about state spending. Moreover, Government procurement documents are to be made publicly available, though these systems are not yet completely enforced and functioning.


3.6.    Court Decisions

Although Timor-Leste uses a civil law system, court decisions do have effect in helping set jurisprudence and, in the case of “fixasaun jurisprudensia,” setting precedent. Court decisions are to be available in hard copy from the courts, and may often be made available on the courts’ websites. The Ministry of Justice provides links and posts relevant information here . As with other legal documents, court decisions are often published (and translated) on local NGO websites.


4.        Legal Research in Timor-Leste


4.1.   Enforcement

When working on or researching law in Timor-Leste, one must note that simply having a law on the books does not necessarily guarantee its enforcement. Because a variety of actors have influenced writing and passing of legislation in Timor-Leste, and because of the numerous pressures for new states to adopt such legislation, Timor-Leste has a relatively broad set of legislation. However, most remains generally under-enforced due to lack of capacity, resources and political will.


4.2.   Language

In addition to the patchwork of laws and traditions established by Timor-Leste’s many past powers, they also established multiple languages, which can be an issue for research in Timor-Leste. The two official languages of the country are Tetum, a local language spoken by the vast majority of the population, and Portuguese. [22] Due to the basic nature of Tetum, few laws have been translated into the language. Indonesian and English are also working languages of the civil service per the Constitution. [23] It is crucial to note, however, that the only official versions of laws are those in Tetum and Portuguese. Translations are often of poor quality— in one instance, the word “months” in Portuguese was translated to “years” in English— and therefore should be expeditiously consulted, with specific reference to official versions of laws used.


Where there is a conflict in translation between the Tetum and Portuguese, the Portuguese version is controlling.


4.3. Where to Find Information


4.3.1.      Legislation & Policy

All legislation is posted on the country’s Official Gazette (Jornál da Republica) at, which is available free online , though not always timely updated. All legislation is also printed and available for purchase at the Gráfika Nasionál in Dili. Official hard copies are generally available before the online versions.


Documents are largely in the official language, Portuguese, with some in the second official language, Tetum. However, due to the UN presence, much has been translated and published in English. In addition, the UN has kept a database of all legislation (in English and Portuguese) available online for legislation passed during its tenure from 2002 to 2012, and some from previous eras. Moreover, various non-governmental organizations with a specific interest in an issue area will post, and often translate, that legislation on their various websites. The best way to keep up-to-date on these issues and postings is through the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) e-newsletter, which also posts some information on its website.


In addition to accessing hard copies of documents at the relevant offices or through the Gráfika Nasionál, one can access various libraries in Timor-Leste, though they are not guaranteed to have certain items. The libraries include:


·         The Legal Training Center (Centro Formação Jurídica) in Dili, which houses a large collection of legal texts and most codes for Timor-Leste. Their catalogue generally incorporates Portuguese and Indonesian materials as there are currently no specific law books on Timor-Leste other than the legal codes. The Library is available to the public on weekdays and is staffed by a librarian.

·         The Ministry of Justice has a small library in its office in Caicoli, Dili, which may be utilized by the public.

·         The National Parliament’s collection includes about 1000 documents and is open to the public from 9-12 and 14:30-5:00 weekdays in Rua Formosa in Dili. The Parliament also has a research office, CEGEN (Centre for Capacity Building and Information on Gender Equality), which focuses on gender issues and includes numerous volumes and reports relevant to such work.

·         The various universities in Timor-Leste also include libraries and the professors and scholars at those institutions are crucial resources. The National University of Timor-Leste (Universidade Nasionál de Timor-Leste) is located across from the National Parliament in Rua Formosa in Dili, and the professors there prepare “summarios” of laws which are helpful resources.


Older legislation such as Portuguese and Indonesian laws can be found here as well as here . Though no longer in effect, these may be relevant for determining rights reaching distant times as well as previous cases. In addition, one would be encouraged to check Indonesian and Portuguese GlobaLex for additional information.


4.3.2.      Draft Legislation

Draft legislation is made available depending on the individual Ministry or office. Most Ministries will post draft legislation on their website for public comment from Parliament or relevant interest groups. The Ministry of Justice posts much of its draft legislation here . While not recently updated, proposed legislation in Parliament should be available here .


4.3.3.      Court Decisions

Court decisions can be requested in hard copy, for a little or no cost, at the Court of Appeals office in Dili. The courts post some decisions online on the Court of Appeals website . Specific to the work of government oversight, the Câmara de Contas (Court of Auditors) posts here . The UN also posted selected court decisions until its departure in 2012. They are available here . In addition, various non-governmental organizations work to provide information on decisions, including some translations when possible. The most comprehensive by far is through The Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) which conducts thorough monitoring of most cases. It posts its summaries here ; however, all are available only in Tetum. And, the Legal Training Center for Timor-Leste has many useful links here .


5.      Other Resources

Organizations working in specific fields often post legislation, including translations, relevant to their work. Therefore, for instance, one can access many laws and decisions related to the petroleum industry and government functions through the website of organization “La’o Hamutuk” (Walk together). Those resources can be found here (scroll down to “Laws and legal documents”). Similarly, Luta Hamutuk (Fight/Struggle Together) posts helpful resources on its website, which focuses largely on economic integrity in the government, especially regarding contracts and procurement. Fundasaun Mahein, which works on oversight of the police and security forces, produces reports and provides information online , including expenditure reports and policies.


A leading scholar on Timoese law, Patrícia Jerónimo, has published works in Portuguese, which can be found at:


   Jerónimo, Patrícia, "Os direitos fundamentais na Constituição da República Democrática de Timor-Leste e na jurisprudência do Tribunal de Recurso", in Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa et al. (coords.), Estudos de Homenagem ao Prof. Doutor Jorge Miranda, vol. III, Coimbra, Coimbra Editora (2012) pp. 105-131.


   Jerónimo, Patrícia, Estado de Direito e justiça tradicional : ensaios para um equilíbrio em Timor-Leste (Jan. 2011).


   Jerónimo, Patrícia, Os direitos fundamentais na jurisprudência constitucional do Tribunal de Recursos de Timor Leste (2011).


   Jerónimo, Patrícia, Os direitos da criança em Timor-Leste (2012).


Stanford Law School operates the Timor-Leste Legal Education Program, which produces printed materials for legal education in Timor-Leste. The books are free online in English, Tetum and/or Portuguese. While one should not rely solely on the books, which are intended for law students to understand legal concepts generally and therefore may not fully reflect the law in Timor-Leste, they do provide a good basis of knowledge and helpful references to relevant law.




·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2014). Introduction to Property Law in Timor-Leste . Stanford Law School and The Asia Foundation. (In preparation).


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to Criminal Law in Timor-Leste . Stanford Law School and The Asia Foundation. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2012).  An Introduction to Contract Law in Timor-Leste . Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2012).  An Introduction to Constitutional Law in Timor-Leste . Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2011).  An Introduction to Professional Responsibility in Timor-Leste . Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


Working Papers:


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013). Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Legal History and the Rule of Law in Timor-Leste  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Constitutional Rights  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Criminal Law  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Family Law: Parentage and Children in Timor-Leste  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Government Contracts  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: The Law of Succession  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: The Law of Petroleum Extraction  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Family: Marriage in Timor-Leste  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .


·        Timor-Leste Legal Education Project (2013).  Introduction to the Laws of Timor-Leste: Petroleum Fund Law  (Working Paper). Stanford Law School, The Asia Foundation, and USAID. Retrieved from .



Other publications can be found on the Court of Appeals links to helpful resources .

[1] RDTL Const. §DTL

[2] RDTL Const. §DTL

[3] RDTL Const. §DTL Con

[4] Law on Community Leadership and their Election, LAW 3/2009 (July 8, 2009) Art. 9

[5] Law 3/2009, Supra, Art. 10

[6] RDTL Const. §DTL C

[7] RDTL Const. §DTL C

[8] RDTL Const. §DTL Co

[9] RDTL Const. §DTL

[10] RDTL Const. §DTL

[11] RDTL Const. §DTL

[12] RDTL Const. §DTL

[13] RDTL Const. §DTL

[14] RDTL Const. §DTL Con

[15] RDTL Const. §DTL Con

[16] RDTL Const. §DTL Con

[17] RDTL Const. §DTL Con

[18] RDTL Penal Code 6

[19] RDTL Penal Code 20

[20] RDTL Const. Arts. 93 and 75

[21] Law No. 6/2006 of 28 December (Law No 7/2011 of 22 June, Amendment of the Law No. 6/2006) at   Art. 25

[22] RDTL Const. §DTL Co

[23] RDTL Const. §DTL