Deputy East Timor PM Jose Luis Guterres corruption claim

Steve Holland | September 30, 2009

Article from: The Australian

EAST Timor Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres has been accused of corruption after appointing his wife to a highly paid UN job in New York.

In a leaked report, Ombudsman Sebastiao Ximenes says Mr Guterres "engaged in maladministration, with indications of collusion and nepotism", and in doing so broke a number of anti-corruption laws.

The statement and the report have been confirmed by the Ombudsman.

It is the latest in a series of reports and investigations by the Ombudsman, the nation's top anti-corruption body, calling for the Prosecutor General to take criminal action against government ministers.

Mr Guterres left his position as UN ambassador to New York in 2006 to return to East Timor amid an outbreak of violence.

Before he left he appointed his wife, Ana Maria Valerio, to the position of counsel to the UN ambassador in New York, and increased her salary from the level of a local staff member to that of a diplomat.

He has said that if he had failed to find a job for his wife that paid the same salary he was earning, his family would have been homeless on the streets of New York.

It is understood that his wife received almost $US20,000 for three months' work, while most of the East Timorese people have to survive on less than $US1 a day.

The report states Ms Valerio lacked East Timorese citizenship rights as she had not lived in the country for a minimum of eight years and was ineligible to be engaged on a salary equal to that of a diplomat.

Mr Guterres said then prime minister Jose Ramos Horta approved the decision.

The Ombudsman's report says Mr Guterres misinterpreted Mr Ramos Horta's recommendation, and as prime minister it was not within his powers to appoint people to the New York mission.

The Ombudsman has passed the case on to the Prosecutor General.

The penalty for breaking the laws indicated in the report carry a jail term of between one and 20 years, and a fine of up to $120,000.

Mr Guterres has denied any wrongdoing.

"I am not worried. I am ready to face any questions from the Prosecutor General," he said.


East Timor defends decision not to try war crimes

The Associated Press ,  United Nations   |  Tue, 09/29/2009 7:09 AM  |  World

East Timor's government is defending its policy of not pursuing war crimes trials for Indonesian officials responsible for thousands of deaths during their 24-year occupation of the half-island nation.

Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa says the country needs to balance justice with the need to reconcile with its giant neighbor, which has refused to cooperate with war crimes probes.

Da Costa acknowledged that his government has faced sharp criticism over the issue by human rights groups calling for an international war crimes tribunal to try those responsible.


The former Portuguese colony broke free of Indonesian occupation in 1999, when 1,500 people were killed by departing occupation troops. After three years of U.N. governance, East Timor declared independence in 2002.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Parliament Divided Over Proposed Massive Pay Hikes for Timor Politicos

On 29 September 2009 Parliament became deadlocked over divisionsgenerated over the proposals to increase salaries for political posts such as:

1) President of the Republic
2) Prime Minister
3) President of the National Parliament
4) Ministers 5) Secretaries of State
5) Secretaries of Parliamentary Committees
6) Presidents and Vice Presidents of Parliamentary Special Commissions
7) Presidents and Vice Presidents of Political Party benches in Parliament

Some Member of Parliament increases more than 600% from $450/month to up to $3,250/month - plus @2,437.50 bonus. Total minimum Member of Parliament income $5,687.50/month. (equivalent to 60 months salary, or 5 years salary for persons on minimum wage $95/month).

The salary for President of the National Parliament will increase 300% from $1,000/month to $4,000/month - plus monthly bonus increase 700% from $500/month to $4,000.00. As a result Fernando Lasama will be earning $8,000/month.

Deputy Speakers and Leaders of each bench will receive $3,500/month - plus bonus $2,800/month, for a total of$6,300/month.

Ordinary Members of Parliament monthly salary will increase to $3,250/ month - plus a bonus of $1,950 for a total of $5,200/month.

The Secretary for each Commission [Committee] and Leaders of sub- Commissions each receive $3,250/month - plus a monthly bonus of $2,112.50/month for a total of $5,362.50/month.

The Prime Minister will receive $8,000/month.

The two Deputy Prime Ministers will receive monthly salaries of $3,500, plus a bonus of $2,800/month for a total of $6,300/month.

Ministers will receive $3,200/month, plus a bonus of $2,437.50/month for a total of $5,687.50/month.

Deputy Ministers and Secretaries of State will receive $3,000/month, plus a bonus of $2,100, for a total of $5,100/month.

The President of the Republic every month will receive $10,000

Timor-Leste is the poorest country in the region and one of the poorest in the world.

Most of its budget is derived from Oil and Gas revenue, and income tax only generated $40 million in this year.

Sustainability of these proposed pay increases is in serious doubt even if passed.

Mr. Manuel Tilman, Member of Parliament is determined to defend these increases, stating that the Oil Fund can pay the increases.

The Timorese Members of Parliament are seeking to benefit from their political positions while most Timorese in the rual areas still do have adequate roads, water supply, electricity and other basic needs.

While State expenditure will pay for these salary increases most Timorese MPs remain absent from work much of the time on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the majority only attend in a tardy fashion.

"I think that Parliament has to serve the peoplebut they always do what they want for themselves first," said Fransisco Soares, a university student. "They have no morals," and he continued to challenge the Members of Parliament. "They should be ashamed of themselves by increasing their own salaries..

Last year University Students protested over the Parlaimentary purchase of 65 vehicles for Members of Parliament, these proposed salary increases are approximately 5,000% more expensive than the new 


    PNTL, ISF and UN police hold joint training to strengthen security

    Radio Televisaun Timor Leste , 28 September 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    The Timorese National Police (PNTL), especially Public Order Battalion (BOP), The UN Police and the International Stabilization Force (ISF) have held a joint training on Friday (25/9) to respond to criminal action in strengthening security in the country.
  • Australia keeps training F-FDTL’s engineering

    Suara Timor Loro Sa’e , 28 September 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    The Australian Defense Force Commander, Brigadier Bill Sowry said the Australian Engineering Force would continue providing training for the Timorese Defense Force (F-FDTL) soldiers to increase their technical skills.
  • Intelligent should be strong to detect terrorism: PM Gusmão

    Suara Timor Loro Sa’e , 28 September 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão has called for the Timorese Defense Force (F-FDTL) intelligent to work harder and be professional in detecting well-organized threat of terrorism.
  • Corruption, collusion and nepotism are continuing to grow up

    Suara Timor Loro Sa’e , 28 September 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    Coordinator for East Timor Reflection Network (ETCERN), Jose Caetano Guterres said corruption collusion and nepotism were continuing to grow up in Timor-Leste, corruptors should face legal charge.




Sr. Presidente PN

Distintus deputadus

Povo Timor-Leste tomak,


Bankada FRETILIN koalia dala barak ona no sei koalia bebeik konaba saida maka ami hanaran “Eskandalu Bot” hosi Sr. Primeiro Ministro, tanba retira ka halo libertasaun illegal ba Maternus Bere, ne’ebe kumpri hela nia termu prizaun preventiva iha Prizaun Becora.

Maternus Bere, lider milisia Laksaur nian ida, ne’ebe indisiadu halo krime kontra Humanidade  hanesan Co-autor ba masakre iha Igreja Suai tinan 1999. Hanesan mos lider no membro milisia balun ne’ebe hetan ona prosesu justisa iha Tribunal Crimes Graves iha Dili, Tribunal mos hasai tiha ona mandadu de Kaptura ba Maternus Bere, desde 2003.  Tuir mandadu ida ne’e, maka nia hetan kapturasaun hosi polisia iha Suai, no ikus Juis tribunal Suai ordena prizaun preventiva ba nia hodi hein prosesu julgamentu.

Maibe, hanesan ita hotu hatene, tuir deklarasaun hosi propriu PM ba iha orgaun komunikasaun Sosial, katak iha dia 30 de Agostu 2009, Sr. Primeiro Ministro rasik hodi Governu de facto nia naran, halo desizaun haruka hasai Maternus Bere hosi prizaun Becora. Sr Presidente do Tribunal de Recurso no Presidente do Conselho Superior Magistratura Judicial rasik, iha nia Komunikadu, konfirma ba ema hotu katak  laiha aktu judicial ruma hosi Tribunal kompetente atu hasai Maternus Bere.

Sr. Presidente

Distintus Deputadus,

Ita hotu konsiente, hanesan mos Bankada FRETILIN konsiente no hakarak tau interese nasional, iha interese grupu ka interese partidariu  nia leten. Ema barak koalia interese nasional hanesan konseitu ida, ne’ebe dala ruma sira interpreta tuir idak-idak nia gostu, nune’e tau fali interese ema ida ka rua nian, ka grupu ka partidu ida nian, maka sai interese nasional.

Kaju Maternus Bere, kazu ida ne’ebe ligadu ho justisa konaba krimes hotu ne’ebe akontese iha passadu, hosi 1974 to’o 1999. Konstituisaun da Republika artigu 160 hatete ona, katak krime hotu ne’ebe  konsideradu hanesan krime kontra Humanidade, genosidiu ka krimes funu nian, ne’ebe mosu iha periodu ida ne’e tenke tuir prosesamentu kriminal ba tribunal nasional ka Internasional.

Tanba ne’e maka, situasaun actual konaba halao prosesu justisa ka atu hasai  Maternus Bere, tenke hare hosi kontestu ne’ebe luan liu hosi vontade politika estadu nia atu halo tuir konstituisaun ou amnestia ba hahalok krime hotu ne’ebe akontese iha periodu 1974 to 1999.

Sua Exelensia Sr. Presidente da Republika dala barak ona hola inisiativa halo reunian ho lideres partidus politikus no bankadas parlamentares koalia konaba projectu lei amnestia, atu taka problema 1974 to’o 1999. Tanba amnestia sai hanesan kompetensia exclusiva Parlamentu nasional nian, maka parlamentu nasional maka tenke hola inisiativa atu halo projetu lei, ka fo seguimentu ba iniasiativa PR nian.

Hanesan ami hatete ona dala barak, katak Bankada FRETILIN nunka kontra inisativa PR nian, nune’e tanba assuntu ne’e afeta ba interese estadu nian, Bankada FRETILIN pronto atu diskute hodi buka consensus nasional, kuandu maioria parlamentar hola inisiativa. Bankada FRETILIN mos dala barak ona egige PN ida ne’e atu diskute relatoriu no rekomendasoens CAVR no CVA nian nudar dokumentus base, maibe ida ne’e seidauk akontece tanba Bankadas Parlamentares AMP nian lakohi fo prioridade ba dokumentu hirak ne’e.

Governo ho nia Bankadas Parlamentares AMP lakohi uza nia maioria iha parlamentu atu hola iniasitiva aprezenta projectu de lei konaba amnestia. Ne’e hatudu katak AMP sira maka laiha vontade no seriedade atu trata asuntu interese Nasional nian. Ikus mai, wainhira mosu reasaun mak’as ba desizaun Governu ne’ebe kontra konstituisaun no viola lei penal tanba retira Maternus Bere sem aktu judicial, sira buka justifika hodi dehan  ne’e desizaun politika ka desizaun estadu ba interese nasional. Ho justifikasaun ida ne’e, sira hakarak obriga ema hotu-hotu atu simu maske sala bot, halakon soberania, no hamoe estadu tomak.

Se ida ne’e maka desizaun estadu ba Interese Nasional, tanba sa maka tenke hasai subar deit no la tuir prosedimentu legal? Tanba sa maka PM maka hasai, hanesan nia rasik rekonhese, laos Presidente da Republika? Tanba sa maka tenke hasai kedas iha dia 30 de Agostu 2009, labele hein tan ona desizaun hosi tribunal? Entaun desizaun ne’e, ba interese nasional ka ba interese AMP nian? Povo hatene ona, katak ne’e interese AMP nian.

Sr. Ministru Negosius Estrangeiro, sei tenta defende nafatin katak Governu hasai Maternus Bere atu deporta ka halo extradisaun ba Indonesia. Karik hakarak soe “fehuk manas” ba Indonesia, maibe laiha akordu ruma ne’ebe halo antes hasai ema ne’e, no ate a data akordu seidauk iha konaba ida ne’e. Ita hatene ona, Indonesia sei la hatan atu halo akordu ba kaju ida ne’e.

Sr. Presidente,

Justisa ba krimes iha pasadu nian liu-liu krimes ne’ebe akontese durante periodu hosi 1974 to’o 1999, sai kestaun Nasional ida inportante, no ne’e merese duni hetan atensaun bot hosi ita hotu.

Maibe, kestaun ne’ebe ohin loron halo Bankada FRETILIN preokupa tetebes, maka kestaun libertasaun illegal Maternus Bere nian, aktu ida ne’ebe kontra kontstituisaun no lei penal ne’ebe vigora iha ita nia rai.

Se Indonesia halo presaun ba Timor-Leste, tanba sira tenke defende sira nia interese atu obriga ita haluha sira nia hahalok krime hotu-hotu ne’ebe pratika hosi generais Inonesia, milisia sira no seluk-seluk tan. Maibe, tanba sa maka Hasan Wirayuda rasik la mai hasai Maternus Bere? Ka tanba sa maka sira la haruka sira nia forsa militar mai loke odomatan prizaun Bekora nian hasai milisia ida ne’e? 

Tanba sira hatene liu ita, katak Timor-Leste nudar estadu independente iha nia soberania, iha nia sistema rasik, iha nia lei rasik. Sira fo respeitu ba asuntu internu Timor-Leste nian, tanba tuir lei Internasional estadu sira labele halo interferensia ba malu.

Konstituisaun da Republika dehan katak RDTL nudar Estadu de Direito Democratico no soberano, iha sitema separasaun dos poderes ho interdependensia entre orgaun soberania idaidak. Tribunais maka administra justisa lori povu nia naran, maibe nia independenti rasik katak ema ida ka orgaun soberania seluk labele halo interferensia, nia so bele halo tuir deit saida maka lei ho konstituisaun haruka.

Konstitusaun da republica mos dehan tan, estadu Timor Leste subordina ba konstituisaun no lei hotu, Estadu no nia orgaun sira  exerse soberania nebe iha tuir konstituisaun. Tanba ne’e, aktu ka hahalok estadu nian so vale wainhira halo tuir konstituisaun.

Ne maka estadu Republika Demokratika de Timor-Leste no nia sistema rasik, ne’ebe reperesenta hosi orgaun soberania 4 ho idak-idak nia kompetensia maibe iha interdependensia: Presidente da Republika bele fo indulto ka halo komutasaun de pena ba em ruma hafoin prosesu justisa, liu hosi Decreto Presidensial; Parlamentu Nasional nudar orgaun koletivu, maka bele fo amnestia ba ema ruma liu hosi resolusaun ka halo lei amnestia.

Se Indonesia mos hakruk ba ita nia soberania, respeita ita nia sistema, maibe sa ida maka akontese agora, ita rasik maka estraga fali ita nia soberania, harahun fali ita nia sitema no viola fali ita nia lei rasik,  ho razaun ne’be irasional : Ne’e maka desizaun estadu ba interese Nasional !

Kala los duni ! Maibe se Presidente da Republika maka hola desizaun nudar chefe de estadu, nia kompetensia iha ne’ebe? Iha Dekretu Presidensial numeru hira? Se Governu maka hola desizaun, tuir konstitusaun iha kompetensia ka lae? Iha artigu hira?

Karik presiza resposta ba pergunta hirak ne’e, maibe laiha ona inportansia, tanba Sr. Primeiru Ministru rasik deklara tiha ona iha orgaun komunikasaun social katak nia maka ordena hasai Maternus bere hosi prizaun sem aktu judicial, no nia rasik pronto atu hola responsabilidade ba ida ne’e. Ida ne’e maka faktu inportante, no hatudu momos ona ba ema hotu katak aktu ne’ebe Sr Primeiru Ministru halo ne’e, Aktu illegal, viola konstituisaun, no liu-liu nia comete crime konfesadu kontra artigu 245 Codigu penal.

Sr. Presidente,

Ilustres deputadus,

Ita nia estadu hatu’ur iha konsttuisaun no leis, nune’e maka hanaran Estado de Direito Democratico. Ita hotu mai tur iha Parlamentu ida ne’e, tanba konstituisaun maka fo dalan no poder mai ita atu halo lei oioin, ne’ebe obriga sidadaun hotu-hotu tenke hakruk no kumpre ba. Nune’e mos Governu.

Oinsa, se ita rasik maka nega fali konstituisaun no viola lei, hanesan dadaun ne’e, Governu maka  haneha fali Lei no haksoit sae hodi sama fali Konstituisaun. Ne’e maka halo ema hotu laran taridu, hanesan mos Bankada FRETILIN preokupa tebes: Estadu ne’e atu lori ba ne’ebe? Sidadaun hotu-hotu iha dever konstitusional, atu hatene no husu responsabilidade politika, moral no ate mesmu responsabilidade kriminal, ba hahalok Governu nian ida ne’e.

Iha kontestu ida ne’e, no hare mos ba direitu konstitusional nudar deputadus Parlamentu Nasional, ami Bankada FRETILIN hamutuk ho Bankada KOTA apresenta Mosao de Sensura ba Parlamentu Nasional, atu egige responsbilidade politika ba Governu AMP.

Governo nudar orgaun politiku ne’ebe lidera hosi Primeiro Ministro, tenke mai responde politikamente perante Parlamentu Nasional nudar orgaun representativu povo tomak nian, tuir Konstituisaun artigu 107.

Mosaun de Sensura sai nudar meius legal konstitusional ba ami atu husu responsabilidade ida ne’e ba Governu. Ne’e normal iha sistema demokratiku iha mundu tomak. Mosaun de Sensura ne’e, sai nudar meius ida atu restaura soberania estandu ida ne’e nian, atu dignifika estadu de direitu, atu hametian povo nia fiar ba lei no justisa iha Timor-Leste. 

Maluk deputadus AMP nian lalika laran taridu tanba ida ne’e. Estabilidade AMP iha itabot sira nia liman. Bankada FRETILIN la halo mobilizasaun ema ruma atu halo manifestasaun ka halo violensia, la organiza petisionarius, tanba laiha ona, la fasilita tan Maj. Alfredo hodi halo ameasa ho kilat, tanba mate tiha ona, hanesan buat ne’ebe ita bot sira halo tiha ona hodi alegasoens falsas hatun Governu FRETILIN iha 2006.

Ita hatene malu, se maka hamosu instabilidade no se maka kontribui ba demokrasia no paz iha rai ida ne’e. Sr. ida naran Rui Lopes komesa loke ibun ona iha Tribunal hatete sai lia los.

Bankada FRETILIN hatene, katak Governo AMP sei la monu, tanba ita bot sira sei vota kontra Mosao de Sensura. Ne’e itabot sira nia Direitu. Maibe, wainhira itabot sira uza duni imi nia direitu, Bankada FRETILIN mos iha direitu atu hato’o ba povo Timor-Leste tomak, komunidade internasional no ba ema hotu, katak Ditadura AMP abut metin ona iha Timor-Leste no pior liu Rezime Soeharto nian, tanba sira lakohi ona hakruk ba konstituisaun ho Lei nebe vigora, tanba sira sobu tiha Estado de Direitu, tanba sira hakarak ukun ho forsa, ho ameasas, ho violensia, hanesan uluk sira halo tiha ona antes sira hadau ukun.

Maka ne’e deit, Obrigadu!

Aniceto Guterres

Ministro Negocio Estrangeiru rezeita fo visto ba Maternus Bere


Adalgisa Ximenes simu posse nudar komisaria nasional ba direito labarik


Timor-Leste has just established a National Commission for the Rights of the Child and appointed Adalgisa Ximenes as Commissioner. Supported by UNICEF, the Commission is mandated to promote, defend and monitor children’s rights.  Strongly guided by the views and opinions of children and young people, the Commission will help develop child-friendly mechanisms and promote a culture that will secure respect for children’s rights throughout the country. 
Photo by Antoninho Bernardino/UNMIT 

HIV-AIDS and Homophobia in Timor-Leste

In its Comments on the U.S. Department of State Country reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) noted that, in East Timor:

There is pervasive bias against homosexuals, keeping nearly all closeted.

People with HIV/AIDS are largely unidentified due to lack of public information and testing.

HIV may be far more widespread than public health officials admit, according to some experts.

AIDS casualties are listed as dying from tuberculosis or other opportunistic diseases.

The lack of access for HIV-positive people to information, testing and health care, combined with common extramarital sexual relations, will likely kill many people in coming years.

In 2005, the author of the blog Dilly Dallying posted an account of encounter with homophobia in East Timor. On 10 November 2005, the author wrote that a Timorese woman had expressed
virulent homophobic comments. The woman was young, supposedly well educated, from a very well to do family and worked for a Human Rights NGO. Her comments, the blog author reports, in particular about gay men were outrageous. She said that there were no gay people in Timor before Indonesia invaded and that gay men were responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

That blogger also reports on a chapter in a Tetun language book called “Kuidadu an” (Taking care of yourself). Under the sub section called "Extramarital Sex", were included the following words: prostitute (three different words), cross dresser, man who acts or dresses like a woman; homosexual (all one word); effeminate heterosexual male; tomboy, woman who acts like a man; homosexual; lesbian; cheap (easy to get; mainly applied to women); mistress (in addition to the wife); take a mistress. To make matters worse, the woman who wrote the book is a Dutch Australian academic.

Then, more was to come, says the Dilly Dallying blogger:

"My Tetun tutor told me that he didn’t like any of “this”. When I questioned him as to what “this” was, he said, “all these people”. I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked as this young man has expressed so many views concerning women (eg there is no such thing as rape in marriage because of course, if I want sex with my wife, she must give it to me!), gender and children that adding homosexuality to the bag covers thoroughly the whole issue of sex and gender.

However, at times like this, I simply cannot shut my mouth and say nothing. I explained to him that being homosexual is a human right and that in countries such as my own, such people are (generally speaking) accepted and protected from discrimination in law (mostly). I also told him that homosexual couples could marry in four countries including two that are Catholic and that perhaps one day, this too will happen in Timor. He just tut tutted and shook his head in disbelief that this was so and was probably thinking how strange and appalling we Westerners are. Little did he know that in my mind, I was thinking how bloody lucky I was to be born in the West and not in Timor."

Dilly Dallying is right to point out these expressions of homophobic slander of homosexuals because they reveal how deeply entrenched the primitive ideology of homophobia is in East Timorese society - thanks to the Catholic Church's antihuman, intolerant and vilificatory doctrines on homosexuality.

Its impacts from programs to reduce the transmission of HIV that do not take due account of the gay community as a most-at-risk group are fatal for the people those programs are supposed to be focused on.

The East Timor National Strategic Plan for a Comprehensive and Multi- Sectoral Response to HIV/AIDS/STI. 2002 –2005 from the Ministry of Health does not contain a single reference to homosexuality, homosexuals or homophobia. There is only a single reference to "men who have sex with men".

And this exposes yet another conceptual error in the strategy. It ought to be clear to even the least informed HIV-AIDS policy decision maker and advisers that not all men who have sex with men are homosexuals. Nor is there any inclusion of bisexuality. Programs must at least be able to identify the MARG's which this policy document does not do. It is the MARG profile that dictates the policy response. So, it is necessary to consider programmatical objectives in relation to men who have sex with men but who are not homosexual, men who have sex with men who are homosexual and men who have sex with both men and women (as well as sex workers and their clients, intravenous drug users, people who have received blood transfusions of blood products before testing of blood supplies was introduced, to name but a few).

These conceptual failures have meant a misformulation of policy and the deployment of defective programs to combat HIV-AIDS in East Timor; such as the Timor-Leste Red Cross HIV-AIDS Reduction Program which reinforces the separation and marginalisation of the gay community from the straight community. It does this by excluding the gay community as a MARG from its program (the principle, most active international NGO in this area).

That has been hived away from the Red Cross program and programming for men who have sex with men (but not homosexuals) has been assigned to a small, inexperienced, under-resourced national NGO which would be even less enthusiastic about combating HIV-AIDS by combating homophobia as a central programming theme.

How can it reasonably be expected that the critical issue of homophobia will be properly addressed under the East Timor National HIV-AIDS strategy as it is presently cast? There would be much more chance of success if an international agency were to put homophobia as part of its HIV-AIDS reduction program and that this be undertaken with the entire community as the target.

Policies based on moral or religious dictates are of no avail in the minimisation of HIV transmission and this is because a moral or religious doctrine can not prevent infection.

Socialisation and the open availability of condoms*, national public information campaigns about safe sex, treatments, and civil rights guarantees are known to minimise infection. Policies based on science, legal rights and guarantees - as well as common sense - turn out to be the best ones; able to turn the peak of new infections into a plateau and eventually into a downward trend. Policies that seek to advance a moral or religious framework for the suppression of HIV ought to be discarded since they do not prevent HIV transmission.

Consequently, the rights of persons diagnosed as HIV-positive must also be a pillar of any national HIV strategy. Discrimination in the provision of health care services for people living with HIV contributes to a hastened demise of those people and is a strong disincentive for people to be tested leaving the entire community at greater risk. Guarantees of confidentiality of HIV status must be set in law; as do anti-discrimination laws and laws prohibiting criminal vilification of homosexuals, homosexuality or HIV-status.

East Timor is a long way from that. But the longer and further away from that kind of policy reform East Timor is, the more of its citizens will suffer and die terrible deaths - and the further HIV will spread into the general community.

This post author conducted a work shop with the East Timor National Parliament Committee on Health in 2004 under the University of San Francisco (Centre for Law and Global Justice) Legislative Drafting Initiative (part of The Asia Foundation's Access to Justice Program).

The work shop topic was health care policy and law for mothers and the question of birth control through condom use came up. The author noted that condoms could be bought at certain shops in Dili but was quickly informed that the condoms were only there for "Misters" - that is to say, foreigners (malaes)!