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Proposed Law on Media
Proposta Lei Imprensa

7 February 2014.    Updated 6 June 2020

Contents of this page

Konteúdu pájina ida ne’e

Articles 40 and 41 of Timor-Leste's Constitution guarantee freedom of expression, information and press for all people. Although these freedoms have been in effect (and well-used) since the restoration of independence in 2002, state authorities and international consultants have been working on drafts of laws to regulate the media for many years, often consulting with local and journalists and media organizations. The current draft was approved by the Council of Ministers on 6 August 2013 and sent to Parliament for enactment.

Parliamentary Committees A and C held hearings during the week of 3 February 2014 with journalists' associations, but others who will be affected by the law (academics, NGOs, bloggers, book publishers, users of information, etc.) were not consulted. Consequently, Committee A scheduled additional hearings (see below)

La'o Hamutuk had many concerns about the draft law, and welcomes advice from experts inside and outside Timor-Leste to help us understand it better and propose constructive revisions. We would also appreciate if someone with better Portuguese skills could improve our rough English translation.

On first glance, we worry about these issues, but there are undoubtedly many more:

  • The law should respect the rights of all people, not only citizens, as the Constitution does. (throughout)

  • Media and journalism are defined too broadly to include anyone who collects and disseminates information (bloggers, Facebook posters, NGOs, institutions, book authors and publishers, etc.) (Article 2)

  • Part-time, student and freelance journalists would be barred from their work unless they have been certified by the Press Council (after serving a six-month internship) and work with a recognized media outlet. (Articles 6-7)

  • Foreign journalists would be barred (Article 6) or require Government permission. (Article 13.8)

  • The laws prevents political parties, non-media businesses, and state employees from working as journalists (very broadly defined) or having their own media. (Article 8, 13.6)

  • Exceptions ("under the law") undermine freedom of the press (Articles 10.3, 10.5 and others)

  • Non-corporate media are not allowed (Article 13.2, 15)

  • Advertising rules are impossible to implement on radio and deny publishers the right to advance their advertisers' interests -- a reality in a profit-driven society. (Article 16)

  • Harsh penalties effectively reinstate the defamation law which was intentionally removed from the Penal Code. (Article 20.1(f))

  • The Press Council includes no representatives of media consumers. (Article 22)

In response to concerns like these raised by La'o Hamutuk and many others, Committee A held additional public hearings on the draft law on 19-21 February according to this schedule. They heard from NGOs, academics, church groups, women's groups, state agencies and political parties.

La'o Hamutuk and the HAK Association testified before Committee A on 19 February.  We presented our written submission, and in the discussion President Carmelita Moniz assured us that this law is only intended to apply to for-profit media companies, not everyone who engages in "journalistic activities." She also said that "citizen" doesn't only mean "citizen of Timor-Leste," so that non-citizens' right will be respected. We hope that the draft law is revised to make this unambiguous.

Artigu 40 no 41 iha Konstituisaun RDTL, garantia liberdade atu ko’alia, liberdade atu hetan informasaun no liberdade imprensa ba ema hotu. Maski liberdade ida ne’e implementa ona (no utiliza ho di’ak) dezde Timor-Leste restaura nia independénsia iha tinan 2002, autoridade estadu no assessor internasionál servisu durante tinan barak atu halo esbosu lei atu regula imprensa, dala ruma sira halo konsultasaun ho jornalista no imprensa lokál sira. Esbosu lei ne’e hetan ona aprovasaun hosi Konsellu Ministru iha loron 6 Agusto 2013 no hato’o ona ba Parlamentu Nasional atu aprova.

Komisaun A no C iha Parlamentu Nasional halo audiénsia durante semana ida hahú 3 Fevreiru 2014 ho asosiasaun jornalista, maibé ema seluk ne’ebé hetan impaktu husi lei ne’e seidauk hetan konsultasaun (akademiku sira, ONG, ema ne’ebé kria pájina web, ema ne’ebé halo publikasaun ba livru, ema ne’ebé uza informasaun no seluk tan).

La’o Hamutuk preokupa tebes ho esbosu ida ne’e, no ami kontente atu simu sujestaun husi peritu sira iha Timor-Leste no husi rai li’ur atu ajuda ita hodi kompriende di’ak liu tan esbosu ida ne’e no fó sujestaun konstrutivu ba revizaun. Ami mós apresia se karik ema ne’ebé iha koñesimentu di’ak iha lingua Portugés bele ajuda hodi hadi’ak ami nia tradusaun Ingles ne’ebé seidauk perfeitu.

Se ita haree liu de’it, ita preokupa kona ba asuntu tuir mai maibé klaru katak iha barak liu tan:

  • Lei tenke respeita ema hotu nia direitu, la’ós sidadaun de’it, tuir Konstituisaun hatete. (iha esbosu lei tomak)

  • Definisaun ba imprensa no jornalizmu luan demais inklui ema hotu ne’ebé koleta no fahe informasaun (ema ne’ebé halo pájina web, ema ne’ebé tau informasaun iha Facebook, ONG, instituisaun, hakerek na’in no ema ne’ebé publika livru, no seluk tan. (Artigu 2)

  • Ema ne’ebé servisu oras sorin, estudante, no jornalista freelance (independente) sei hetan bandu ba sira nia servisu se sira la hetan sertifikasaun husi Konsellu Imprensa (hafoin halo estajiadu durante fulan neen) ka la servisu ho imprensa ne’ebé hetan rekoñesimentu. (Artigu 6-7)

  • Jornalista hosi rai li’ur sei la autoriza (artigu 6) ka sei presiza hetan lisensa hosi governu. (Artigu 13.8)

  • Esbosu lei ne’e prevene partidu polítiku, kompañia naun-imprensa, no funsionáriu públiku atu servisu nudár jornalista (jornalista iha definisaun ne’ebé luan tebes) ka iha sira nia imprensa rasik. (Artigu 8, 13.6)

  • Esepsaun (“iha lei nia okos”) hafraku liberdade imprensa. (Artigu 10.3, 10.5 no seluk tan)

  • Imprensa non-korporasaun la autoriza. (Artigu 13.2, 15)

  • Regra publisidade labele aplika ba radio no regra ne’e nega direitu ba sira ne’ebé publika atu promove ema halo publisitariu nia interese-ne’e -- realidade iha sosiedade ne’ebé buka lukru de’it. (Artigu 16)

  • Sansaun todan sei reativa fali ba lei defamasaun ne’ebé ho intensaun hamoos ona iha Kódigu Penal. (Artigu 20.1(f))

  • Konsellu Imprensa la inklui reprezentante husi imprensa nia leitor no rona na'in sira. (Artigu 22)

Komisaun A husi PN hetan preokupasaun hanesan ne'e husi ema no group balun, entaun sira deside atu halo audiensia publika tolu tan, iha loron 19-21 Fevereiru iha Tibar Beach Retreat, tuir kalendariu iha liman karuk. Sira sei rona husi akademiku, NGO, igreja, grupu feto, ajensia estadu no partidu politiku sira.

La'o Hamutuk no Asosiasaun HAK fó testemuña ba Komisaun A iha loron 19 Fevereiru. Ami fó ami nia submisaun, no iha diskusaun tuir mai, Prezidente Komisaun Carmelita Moniz garantia katak lei ida ne'e sei aplika de’it ba empreza imprensa komérsial, la’ós ema hotu ne’ebé hala’o "atividade jornalistika." Nia mós hatete katak "sidadaun" la signifika "sidadaun Timor-Leste," entaun lei ida ne'e respeita ema hotu-hotu nia direitu. Ami hein katak ezbosu lei ida ne'e hetan revizaun atu klarifika buat rua ne'e.

Law goes to Parliamentary plenary, which passes it

Parliament Committee A finalized its Report and Opinion (Portuguese original) on the law on 28 February, identifying many of its flaws and controversial topics. They read the 29-page report to the Parliamentary plenary session on 11 March. Two hours of debate followed, most of which concerned issues of personal concern to Members (such as being misquoted or defamed, and the right of political parties to own media). Although the draft law is largely based on Indonesia's discredited Press Council, Secretary of State for Media Nelio Isaac agreed with MP Mandati that Timor-Leste doesn't want "Pancasila Democracy." At 5:30 that afternoon, the MPs approved the law in generality, with 49 votes in favor, none opposed and one abstention, as announced by Government Press Release and in the Tetum notes of the session.

Because Committee A's report discusses general issues and controversies without proposing specific amendments, the bill is being sent back to the Committee for article-by-article revision, after which the plenary will resume discussion on specifics. Concerns have been raised that this process, likely behind closed doors, will prevent the press and public from observing the substantive debate.

RTTL hosted a two-hour debate with journalists, civil society representatives and others on Friday, 28 March, but unfortunately Parliament and Government representatives declined to attend.

Parliament Committee A took several weeks to revise the law, and nearly doubled the number of articles  They presented their report (Portuguese) and  amended version of the law (original Portuguese) to the Parliamentary plenary on 5 May.

On 6 May, the National Parliament gave final approval to the Media Law. 53 deputies voted in favor, nobody voted against, and 4 abstained. Eight others were absent.

There were no significant changes to the content of the draft law during the Plenary debate, only two amendments. MPs Antonino Bianco and Paulo Moniz proposed changing Article 6 of the draft, not to give an annual subsidy from the State Budget to profit-oriented or commercial media. The other amendment, from MP Carmelita Moniz to Article 45, about the composition of the Press Council, removes the requirement that one of the two Parliamentary representatives be a lawyer and allows the Press Council to elect its President from any of its five members.

Soon after Parliament approved the law, the Secretary of State for Media invited media organizations to sign MOUs to receive subsidies from the Government. Tempo Semanal and the Timor-Leste Press Union refused, but other media signed the MOU and will receive $5,000 to $20,000 each.  According to the Government's Transparency Portal on 10 June, the SoS had not executed any public transfers through the end of April 2014, but $22,412 was distributed in May and $21,741 in the beginning of June.

Lei ba Plenária Parlamentu

Komisaun A PN finaliza ninia Relatoru no Paraser (Ingles) (orijinál Portugés) iha loron 28 Fevereiru, no sira identifika frakeza no topiku problematiku balun. Sira lee relatóriu ho pájina 29 ba Plenária Parlamentu nian iha loron 11 Marsu. Hafoin debate oras rua, Deputadu/a sira preokupa ho asuntu pertense ba sira rasik (hanesan kuotasaun falsu, defamasaun, no partidu polítiku bele na'in ba media). Maski esbosu lei bazeia husi Konsellu Imprensa Indonesia nian (lakon kredibilidade agora), Sekretáriu Estadu ba Komunikasaun Sosiál Nelio Isaac konkorda ho Deputadu Mandati katak Timor-Leste lakohi "Demokrasia Pancasila." Iha tuku 5:30 loraik, Parlamentu aprova lei iha jeneralidade, ho votus 49 favor, 0 kontra, no 1 abstensaun, hanesan fó sai iha Komunikadu Imprensa Governu nian no notulen husi PN.

Tanba Pareser husi Komisaun A diskute asuntu jerál no la sujere alterasaun espesífiku, esbosu lei ida ne'e tama fila fali ba Komisaun atu hare revizaun ba kada artigu. Depois Plenária bele kontinua debate iha espesialidade. Ema balun preokupa katak prosesu ida ne'e, laho transparansia, bele prevene media no públiku atu hare diskusaun kona ba asuntu importante.

RTTL organiza debate oras rua ho jornalista sira, sosiedade sivíl sira no ema seluk iha loron Sesta, 28 Marsu, maibé infelizmente reprezentante sira husi Parlamentu Nasionál no Governu la marka prezensa.

Komisaun A Parlamentu presiza semana balu atu altera lei ida ne'e, no besik aumenta numeru artigu nian dala rua kompara ho versaun uluk nian. Sira aprezenta sira nia relatoriu (Portuges) no halo alterasaun foun ba lei (Portuges) ba iha plenaria Parlamentar iha loron 5 Maiu.

Iha loron 6 Maiu, Parlamentu Nasionál halo aprovasaun final global ba proposta Lei Imprensa, Deputadu na’in 53 vota favor, laiha ida mak kontra no abstensaun na’in 4. Deputadu nain 8 la marka prezensa.

Laiha mudansa signifikante ba iha konteúdu ezbosu lei ne’e durante debate iha Plenária Parlamentár, so úniku de’it iha proposta alterasaun rua hosi Deputadu Antonino Bianco no Paulo Moniz ba Artigu 6 Ezbosu Lei ne’e, atu labele fó subsídiu annual ho Orsamentu Jerál Estadu nian tinan-tinan ba imprensa ne’ebé orienta ba lukru ka imprensa komersiál sira. No alterasaun seluk hosi Deputada Carmelita Moniz ba Artigu 45, katak ema na’in rua ne’ebé sei reprezenta Parlamentu nian iha Konsellu Imprensa ne’e la’ós tenke ema jurista ida, no mós independentemente, membru sira hosi Konsellu Imprensa mak sei hili sira nia Prezidente, entre ida hosi sira na’in lima ne’e.

Hafoin Parlamentu aprova lei ne’e, Sekretáriu Estadu Komunikasaun Sosiál konvida instituisaun media sira atu asina nota intendementu (MoU) hodi hetan subsídiu husi Governu. Tempo Semanál no Timor-Leste Press Union (TLPU) rejeita, maibé media seluk asina MoU. Bazeia ba Governu nia Portal Transparénsia iha loron 10 fulan Juñu, Sekretáriu Estadu ida ne'e seidauk halo transferénsia públiku too loron ikus iha fulan Abril 2014, maibé iha fulan Maiu distribui ona $22,412 no mós $21,741 iha inisiu fulan Juñu.

Parliament sends it to the President

Although Parliament had not yet transmitted the law to President Taur Matan Ruak, on 29 May La'o Hamutuk and other organizations wrote a letter (abridged blog, Tetum original) urging the President to veto the law, "because it will harm democracy and human rights, restrict many people’s rights to freedom of expression, and give power to a single group to issue a few licenses while limiting other people’s rights to share information. We believe this violates Timor-Leste’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

When the President of Republic had not received the law by mid-June, Committee A chair Carmelita Moniz told reporters that her Committee had finalized the wording and sent it to Parliamentary President Vicente Guterres, but Mr. Guterres said he had not received it, leading some media to say it was "lost" in Parliament.

Parliament sent the proposed law (also Portuguese) to President Taur Matan Ruak on 25 June, 50 days after it was voted. Under Article 88 of the Constitution, the President has 30 days in which to promulgate it or veto and send it back to Parliament for further study. Article 149 gives the President 20 days in which to request the Court of Appeals to advise him on its constitutionality, and they must rule within 25 days of the request.

On 3 July, the President's Legal Advisor invited about 50 representatives of media and civil society to discuss the law, and many Presidential advisors listened to our concerns for more than three hours. Chief of Staff Fidelis Magalhaes said that the President will decide by 15 June whether to sign, veto or ask the Court of Appeals for advice on constitutionality.

On 8 July, former President Jose Ramos-Horta, having just returned from heading the UN Mission in Guinea-Bissau, met with President Taur Matan Ruak. According to media reports, JRH urged TMR to veto the proposed law, saying that media all over the world make mistakes, but that a free press is essential for democracy to move forward. In a 14 July column in Timor Post, acting U.S. ambassador Scott Ticknor described how freedom of the press is essential to democracy.

Parlamentu haruka proposta lei ba Prezidente Republika

Too 10 Junu, Parlamentu seidauk haruka lei refere ba Prezidente Taur Matan Ruak atu promulga. Maske nune'e, iha loron 29 Maiu La'o Hamutuk no organisasaun sira seluk hakerek karta atu husu Prezidente Republika atu veto, "tanba Lei ne’e sei estraga demokrasia no direitus umanu, esklui ema barak nia direitu ba liberdade espresaun, fó de’it podér ba grupu ida de’it atu fó lisensa ba ema balu no limita ema seluk atu fahe informasaun. Ami konsidera ida ne’e viola Konstituisaun no Konvensaun Internasionál ba Direitu Sivíl no Polítika."

Prezidente Republika la simu lei ida ne'e to iha Junu nia klaran. Prezidente Komisaun A Carmelita Moniz hateten ba jornalista sira katak ninia Komisaun finaliza ona letra no haruka ona ba Prezidente Parlamentu Vicente Guterres, maibe Sr. Guterres hateten nia seidauk simu buat ne'e, hodi halo media balu hateten lei ida ne'e "lakon" iha Parlamentu.

Parlamentu haruka lei refere (Portuges ka Ingles) ba Prezidente Republika Taur Matan Ruak iha loron 25 fulan Junu, loron 50 hafoin sira aprova. Tuir Konstituisaun, Prezidente bele promulga ka veta iha loron 30 no haruja fali ba Parlamentu atu halo estudu tan.

Iha 3 Jullu, Asesor Legal Prezidente nian konvida maizumenus reprezentante media no sosiedade sivil nain 50 atu diskute lei ida ne'e, no asesor Prezidente barak mak rona ba ami nia preokupasaun durante liu oras tolu. Xefe Casa Civil Fidelis Magalhaes hateten katak Prezidente sei deside atu asina, veto ka husu ba Tribunal Rekursu atu hetan konsellu konstitusionalidade molok liu 15 Jullu.

Iha 8 Jullu, eis Prezidente Repúblika Jose Ramos-Horta, ne’ebé foin fila hosi knar lidera Misaun ONU iha Guinea-Bissau, hasoru malu ho Prezidente Taur Matan Ruak. Tuir kobertura media sira, JRH husu ba TMR atu veta ba proposta lei ne'e, hodi hateten katak media iha mundu tomak halo failansu, maibé liberdade imprensa ne'e esensiál ba demokrasia atu la’o ba oin. Iha loron 14 Jullu, colum ida in Timor Post husi Embaixadór interinu EUA nian Scott Ticknor hateten oinsá liberdade imprensa ne'e esensiál ba demokrasia.

President asks Court's advice ... and they find the law unconstitutional

On 14 July, the President announced that he had submitted the Media Law to the Court of Appeals, requesting the Court to advise him with a preliminary review of its constitutionality, particularly to ensure that "the regulations approved regarding Freedom of the Press will not excessively limit the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in Article 41 of the Constitution." La'o Hamutuk was informed that the President asked the Court to look at how the law relates to at least seven Constitutional articles, as well as several principles.

Following a statement from Human Rights Watch on 16 July, international media began to pay more attention, including TIME magazine, the Guardian and the Development Policy Centre.

In accordance with articles 149.1, 126 and 164 of the Constitution, the Court responded to the President on 11 August, finding that provisions of articles 20 (duties of journalists), 24 (foreign media ownership) and 40 (fines) of the proposed law violated several articles of the Constitution. The Presidency summarized the court ruling in a press release.

La'o Hamutuk has scanned the 54-page court ruling (3.5 MB, Portuguese) and converted to Portuguese text. Although our Portuguese skills are limited (and we welcome help with translating this document), we believe that the President asked the Court's advice on the following issues, to which the Court responded thusly:
Presidential questionCourt's opinion
1. Does article 20 of the proposed law, establishing fines for journalists who commit infractions, violate articles 24 (no restrictive laws) and/or 41 (freedom of the press) of the Constitution?This is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of proportionality without observing constitutionally required criteria.
2. Do article 20.1 lines a, b, c, d and g of the proposed law, which inflict fines for violating vaguely-defined duties, violate articles 31.2 (no prosecution for non-criminal offenses) and 31.3 (no penalties for non-criminal activity) or 24 (no restrictive laws) of the constitution?This is unconstitutional because in violates principles of legality and determinability and restricts rights and freedoms (article 24), as well as being contrary to the principle of Rule of Law (article 6(b)).
3. Does article 40 of the proposed law, which empowers the Press Council to levy fines for non-criminal activity, violate article 34 (right to defend oneself against charges) of the Constitution?This is unconstitutional because it violates article 34.3 and principles inherent in the Rule of Law and administrative impartiality included in articles 1, 6(b) and 137 of the Constitution, not providing for the right to defense, including a prior hearing.
4. Do articles 44(c) and (d), 42, 48 and 45 of the proposed law, establishing the Press Council (to be detailed by Decree-Law and financed from the state budget), violate article 41 (especially 41.2) of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press and "professional independence" of journalists?Article 45.1 (composition of the Press Council) and therefore article 44 (role of Press Council) of the proposed law are not unconstitutional because they do not unduly restrict freedom of the press or journalists' "professional independence."
5. Does article 22.2 [actually article 24] of the proposed law, limiting foreign ownership of a media company to 30%, violate article 41 (freedom of the press), 54 (right to private property), 16 (universality and equality) and/or 24 (no restrictive laws) of the Constitution?This is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of equality in article 16.2 (non-discrimination) of the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as article 54.1 (private property) of the Constitution.

After returning from the districts, President Taur Matan Ruak sent the Court's analysis to Parliament on 19 August, with a letter asking the Members to fix the defects in the law. This is the first time in his two years in office that this President has returned proposed legislation to Parliament without promulgating it. Parliamentary Speaker Vicente Guterres told local media that Parliament will deal with it in due course.

Some media articles described the court's advice as binding or as a rebuke to Parliament and Government, but it does not carry legal force. Although we haven't seen the President's letter, we believe that Parliament had three options:

  1. Do nothing. In this case, the draft law dies, and Timor-Leste continues with the free media environment it has enjoyed since 2002. However, Parliament could resume consideration of the law at any time.

  2. Revise it to address the court's objections, and perhaps make some other changes, and pass it again. The President would be likely to promulgate it, although we continue to hope that his decision will consider freedom as well as law.

  3. Re-pass the law without any changes, as Constitution article 88.3 allows a Presidential veto to be overridden by a vote of 2/3 of the members present. (This is 44 MPs if everyone attends, or fewer -- but no less than 33 -- if some are absent. The governing coalition has 40 seats.) If this happens, and someone brings a court challenge to enforcement of unconstitutional parts of the law, it would probably be overturned. Under Timor-Leste's civil law system, the ruling would not apply to subsequent cases.

After the President returned the law to Parliament, the International Federation of Journalists launched an online petition (sign here), initially signed by more than 30 Australian journalists, which has since been supported by than 200 people from around the world. There was more coverage in local and global media (also see below), and the Australian journalists union MEAA and Amnesty International added their voices to the chorus supporting freedom of expression in Timor-Leste.

Prezidente husu Tribunal Rekursu nia konselhu … no sira hetan lei inkonstitusional

Iha loron 14 Jullu, Prezidente Repúblika Taur Matan Ruak fó sai katak nia hatama Lei Imprensa ba Tribunál Rekursu hodi halo fiskalizasaun preventiva ba dekretu hirak-ne’e nia konstitusionalidade. "Objetivu husi desizaun hirak-ne’e atu asegura katak normas ne’ebé temi iha regulamentu kona-ba Liberdade Imprensa nian ne’e sei la limita barak liu sidadaun sira-nia direitu fundamentál hirak ne’ebé sira hetan tiha ona husi art. 41 Konstituisaun nian." Ami rona katak Prezidente husu ba Tribunal atu hare lei ne’ebé relasaun mínimu artigu hitu husi Konstituisaun, no mós prinsípiu balun tan.

Bazeia ba deklarasaun hosi Human Rights Watch iha 16 Jullu, media internasionál hahú fó atensaun barak, inklui revista TIME, the Guardian no Development Policy Centre.

Tuir artigu 149.1, Artigu 126 no Artigu 164 hosi Konstituisaun RDTL, Tribunal responde ba Prezidente iha 11 Agostu, hodi hetan katak provizaun sira iha artigu 20 (deveres), artigu 24 (Kapital estrangeiro) no artigu 40 (Contraordenaçoés) iha proposta lei ne’e viola artigu balu iha Konstituisaun. Prezidensia halo rezumu ida iha sira nia komunikadu imprensa.

La’o Hamutuk halo skan ba desizaun Tribunal ho pajina 54 (3.5 MB, Portuges) no konverte ida ne’e ba textu Portuguese nian. Maske ami nia skill Portuges ne’e limitadu (no ami prontu simu ajuda tradusaun ba dokumentu ne’e), ami hatene katak Prezidente husu Konsellu hosi Tribunal ba asuntu sira tuir mai, ne’ebe mos ho resposta Tribunal nian:
Pergunta presidensial Opiniaun Tribunal
1. Keta artigu 20 iha proposta lei, hodi aplika multa ba jornalista sira ne’ebé komete violasaun ruma, viola Konstituisaun artigu 24 (la'os lei restritivu sira) no/ka Artigu 41 (liberdade imprensa)? Ne’e inkonstitusional tanba ida ne’e viola prinsipiu proporsionalidade lahó tau matan ba kritéria ne’ebé konstitusionálmente husu.
2. Keta Artigu 20.1 alínea a, b, c, d no g hosi proposta lei, ne’ebé aplika multa ba violasaun ba knar ne’ebé ladún klaru define, hodi viola Konstituisaun Artigu 31.2 (la bele halo julgamentu ba hahalok ne’ebé la’os krime) no Artigu 31.3 (labele fó uluk pena ba atividade ne’ebé la’ós krime) ka Artigu 24 (la’ós lei restritivu sira)?Ne’e Inkonstitusional tanba viola prinsipiu legalidade no determinabilidade no limita direitu no liberdade sira (artigu 24), nune’e mós kontráriu ba prinsipiu ba Estadu Direitu Demokrátiku (artigu 6 (b)).
3. Keta artigu 40 hosi proposta lei, ne’ebé atu hakbiit Konsellu imprensa atu aplika multa ba atividade la’ós krime, viola Konstituisaun Artigu 34 inklui direitu atu defende nia kontra akuzasaun)?Ne’e Inkonstitusional tanba ida ne’e viola artigu 34.3 no prinsipiu eransa iha Estadu Direitu no imparsialidade administrativu nian ne’ebé inklui iha Konstituisaun artigu 1, 6(b) no 137, la fornese direitu atu halo defeza, inklui audiénsia antes.
4. Keta Artigu 44 (c) no (d), 42, 48 no 45 hosi proposta lei, hodi estabelese Konsellu Imprensa (ne’ebé sei detallu ho Dekretu-Lei no finansia hosi Orsamentu Estadu), viola Konstituisaun Artigu 41 (espesialmente Artigu 41.2), ne’ebé garante liberdade imprensa no “independénsia professional” jornalista sira?Artigu 45.1 (Kompozisaun Konsellu Imprensa) no tuir mai artigu 44 (knar Konsellu Imprensa) hosi proposta lei ne’e la’ós inkonstitusional tanba sira la’ós exesivamente limita liberdade imprensa ka “independénsia professional” jornalista sira nian.
5. Keta artigu 22.2 [loloos artigu 24] hosi proposta lei, limita na’in hosi ema estranjeiru ba kompañia media ida to’o iha 30%, viola Konstituisaun artigu 41 (liberdade imprensa), 54 (direitu ba propriedade privadu), 16 (universalidade no Igualdade) no /ka 24 (la’ós lei restritivus sira)?Ida ne’e Inkonstitusional tanba ida ne’e viola prinsipiu igualdade iha artigu 16.2 (la’os-disriminasaun) iha Konstituisaun no Deklarasaun Universal Direitus Umanu, no mós Konstituisaun artigu 54.1 (propriedade privadu).

Hafoin fila hosi nia vizita ba distritu, Prezidente Taur Matan Ruak haruka analiza Tribunal nian ba Parlamentu iha 19 Agostu, ho karta ida atu husu Deputadu sira hodi hadi’ak buat sala balu iha lei nia laran. Ida ne’e mak primeira vez nia halo nudár prezidente durante tinan rua nia laran hodi haruka fali proposta lei ba Parlamentu molok halo promulgasaun. Porta voz Parlamentár Vicente Guterres hateten ba media lokál sira katak Parlamentu sei tau matan lalais ba asuntu ida ne’e.

Artigu balu iha media deskreve katak paresér tribunal nian ne’e nudár forsa legal ida ka nudár fó atensaun ba Parlamentu no Governu, maibé ida ne’e la iha forsa legal ida. Maske ami seidauk hare karta Prezidente nian, maibé ami hare katak ohin loron Parlamentu iha ona opsaun tolu:

  1. La halo buat ruma. Iha kazu ida ne’e, ezbosu lei ne’e mate ona, no Timor-Leste kontinua la’o ho ambiente media ne’ebé livre ne’ebé Timor oan sira goza ona dezde 2002. Maske nune’e, Parlamentu tenke foti konsiderasaun ba lei ida ne’e iha kualkér tempu.

  2. Halo revizaun hodi responde ba objesaun tribunal nian, no dala ruma halo mudansa balu tan no pasa lei ida ne’e dala ida tan. Prezidente sei bele promulga lei ne’e, maske ami kontinua espera katak nia desizaun sei konsidera liberdade imprensa hanesan mós lei.

  3. Pasa lei ida ne’e dala ida tan lahó mudansa ruma, tanba Konstituisaun RDTL artigu 88.3 fó dalan ba veto Prezidensial nian bele hetan substituisaun hosi votu 2/3 deputadu sira ne’ebé atende plenária. (Katak Deputadu na’in 44 karik membru Parlamentu tomak atende, ka menus hosi ida ne’e – maibé labele menus liu 33 – karik iha Deputadu balu la marka prezensa. Bloku Koligasaun ne’ebé forma Governu iha kadeira 40.) Karik ida ne’e mak akontese, no iha ema ruma mak lori keixa ba Tribunal atu hasoru parte balu iha lei ne’ebe inkonstitusional vigora, ne’e provavelmente bele lakon. Tuir sistema lei sivíl Timor-Leste nian, desizaun Tribunal sei la aplika ba kazu sira ne’ebé sei tuir mai tan.

Hafoin Prezidente fó fila lei ne’e ba Parlamentu, Federasaun Internasionál ba Jornalista sira lansa petisaun online ida (asina iha ne’e), fou-foun asina hosi jornalista Australia nian liu na’in 30, ne’ebé ikus mai hetan suporta liu ema na’in 200 hosi nasaun barak tan. Iha kobertura barak iha media lokál no global (mós hare iha okos), no sindikatu jornalista Australia nian MEAA no Amnesty International uza sira nia lian hodi suporta liberdade espresaun iha Timor-Leste.

Law revised, passed and promulgated

Parliament made some changes (option 2 above) and re-passed the law unanimously on 27 October, although they declined to revise Article 24, which limits foreign ownership of a media outlet to 30%. President Taur Matan Ruak promulgated it on 13 November despite this concern, and he asked the Court of Appeal to conduct a "Successive Abstract Review" of its Constitutionality. Nevertheless, the law was published in the Jornal da  República as Law No. 5/2014 of 19 November (text in Portuguese), and it came into effect on 19 December.

Parliament wrote to the Court explaining why they had not changed Article 24. On 15 December, the Court of Appeal issued its second report on this law (Portuguese), finding once again that Article 24 of the Media Law violates the Constitution, and explaining why it disagrees with Parliament.

Lei hetan revizaun, passa no promulga ona

Parlamentu halo mudansa balu (opsaun 2 iha leten) no pasa dala ida tan lei ne’e ho unanimidade iha 27 Outubru, maske sira la halo revizaun ba iha Artigu 24, ne’ebé limita na’in ba ema estranjeiru ba media ida iha 30%. Prezidente Taur Matan Ruak promulga iha 13 Novembru maske ho preokupasaun ida ne’e, no nia husu ba Tribunal Rekursu atu halao “Revista Abstratu ida ne’ebé Susesivu” ba iha nia Konstitusionalidade. Maske nune’e, lei ne’e publika ona iha Jornal da República nudár Lei No. 5/2014 de 19 Novembru (textu), no vigora iha 19 Dezembru.

Parlamentu hakerek karta ba Tribunal Rekursu atu esplika tanba sa sira lakoi altera Artigu 24. Iha loron 15 Dezembru, Tirbunal Rekursu fo sai sira nia relatoriu segundo kona-ba lei ida ne'e (Portuges), ne'ebe konklui dala ida tan katak Artigu 24 iha Lei Imprensa viola Konstituisaun, no esplika tanba sa Tribunal la konkorda ho Parlamentu.


Timor-Leste fell 26 positions in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, ranking 103 out of 180 countries included. This was the second-largest drop in the world. The report explained "The creation of a press council and the adoption of a code of ethics in October 2013 have been a disappointment. In 2014, the government proposed a tough new media law, which has led to widespread self-censorship."

In April 2015, the new Government headed by Dr. Rui Maria Araùjo issued its Program for the next two years, which includes socializing the media law, encouraging media diversity and establishing the Press Council.

In June 2015, the Council of Ministers approved the structure and statutes of the Press Council, which was promulgated as Decree-Law No. 25/2015 of 5 August (official Portuguese/Tetum).

The 2016 State Budget approved at the end of 2015 appropriates $700,000 for the Press Council -- $136,000 for salaries, $404,000 for Goods and Services, and $160,000 for Minor Capital.

In the World Press Freedom Index for 2016, published in April 2016, Timor-Leste regained four places from its 2015 drop, ranking 99. The gain was because the "draconian media bill that the government presented could have resulted in widespread self-censorship...", but it hadn't yet done so.

Although the three media representatives on the Press Council were named in 2015, Parliament took nine months to nominate the last two members. On 15 March 2016, National Parliament finally elected its representatives to the Press Council, whose membership is now complete. It includes:

  1. Jose Ximenes (Timor Post) representing media owners
  2. Francisco Simoes Belo (TLPC), representing journalists
  3. Hugo Fernandes (AJTL) representing journalists
  4. Virgilio da Silva Guterres representing Parliament
  5. Paulo Adriano da Cruz Araújo "Hunu Mali", representing Parliament

At its first meeting on 31 March, the Council elected Virgilio da Silva Guterres as its President.  The Council was to be sworn into office on World Press Freedom Day (3 May), which was celebrated by Timor-Leste's government, but Parliamentary squabbles delayed the event for a week. The Council adopted its internal regulations on 16 May.


Timor-Leste monu tun ho pozisaun 26 iha Índise Mundiál ba Liberdade Imprensa nian iha 2015 ne’ebé kompila hosi Reporters Without Borders, tuur iha ranking 103 hosi nasaun 180 ne’ebé inklui iha kompilasaun ida ne’e. Monu ida ne’e nudár mudansa boot segundu iha mundu. Relatóriu ida ne’e esplika “Kriasaun konsellu imprensa ida no adaptasaun kódigu étika iha Outubru 2013 sai tiha dezapontamentu ida. Iha 2014, Governu propoin lei imprensa foun ida ne’ebé maka’as, ne’ebé sei hadalan ba sensura ida ne’ebé luan liu tan.”

Iha Abril 2015, Governu foun ne’ebé lidera hosi Dr. Rui Maria Araujo fó sai nia Programa ba tinan rua oin mai, ne’ebé inklui sosializasaun ba lei imprensa nian, ne’ebé enkoraja atu iha diversidade imprensa no estabelese Konsellu Imprensa ida.

Iha Juñu 2015, Konsellu Ministru aprova estrutura no estatutu ba Konsellu Imprensa nian, ne’ebé promulgadu tiha ona nudár Dekretu Lei No. 25/2015 iha 5 Agostu.

Orsamentu Jerál Estadu 2016 aprova iha Dezembru 2015 aloka $700,000 ba Konsellu Imprensa -- $136,000 ba Saláriu, $404,000 ba Bens i servisu, no $160,000 ba Kapitál Minor.

Iha Índise Mundiál ba Liberdade Imprensa nian iha 2016, publika iha Abril 2016, fila fali ba fatin haat kompara ho 2015, tuur iha ranking 99. Mudansa ida ne'e akontese tanba "lei media ida ne’ebé otoritariu ne’ebé Governu aprezenta bele rezulta sensura-an luan liu..." maibé ida ne'e seidauk akontese.

Maske reprezentante na’in tolu hosi imprensa ba Konsellu Imprensa ne’e hili tiha ona iha 2015, Parlamentu presiza fulan sia atu hili membru rua ikus. Iha 15 Marsu 2016, Parlamentu Nasional finalmente hili nia reprezentativu ba Konsellu Imprensa, hodi halo kompleta tiha kompozisaun membru nian. Membru sira ne’e mak hanesan tuir mai:

  1. Jose Ximenes (Timor Post), reprezenta na’in imprensa
  2. Francisco Simoes Belo (TLPC), reprezenta jornalista sira
  3. Hugo Fernandes (AJTL), reprezenta jornalista sira
  4. Virgilio da Silva Guterres, reprezenta Parlamentu
  5. Paulo Adriano da Cruz Araújo "Hunu Mali", reprezenta Parlamentu

Iha enkontru primeiru iha loron 31 Marsu, Konsellu Imprensa hili Virgilio da Silva Guterres nudar Prezidente. Konsellu Imprensa ne’e loloos atu hetan tomada de pose iha Loron Mundial ba Liberdade Imprensa nian (3 Maiu), ne’ebé mós selebra hosi Governu Timor-Leste, maibé tanba de’it problema internal Parlamentár nian nune’e eventu ida ne’e adia semana ida tan. Iha loron 16 Maiu, Konsellu Imprensa aprova sira nia Regulamentu Interno.

The Press Council comes into existence at a challenging time, as current Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo has asked the Prosecutor General to investigate an inaccurate article published in November 2015 by Timor Post which alleged that he manipulated procurement processes while he was an advisor in the Ministry of Finance to steer a contract to PT Packet Systems Indonesia. (Araújo says that he recommended a different company, and that Timor Post intentionally falsified the information.) He asked the prosecutor to look into whether the newspaper and its reporter Raimundos Oki should be charged with "Defamatory False Information" under article 285 of the Penal Code (official Portuguese).

On 11 April, the Prosecutor questioned the reporter and editor Lourenco Vicente Martins. The International Federation of Journalists condemned the action, and they and others wrote a letter to Dr Araùjo, who responded a week later. The controversy is being extensively covered in the local and international media, including articles by attorney Jim Nolan, Paul Cleary in The Australian, Pacific Media Watch, Inter Press Service and Global Voices.

In October 2016, Oki and Martins were about to go to trial, as reported by the Associated Press in the New York Times and elsewhere. Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action, and Global Voices described international solidarity among journalists.

In March 2017, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) described Challenges to the media in covering the 2017 Timor-Leste elections.

The Oki/Martin trial began in May 2017. In closing, the prosecutors asked to jail Oki for a year and put Martins on two years probation, as summarized by Amnesty International. In late May, Prime Minister Rui Araujo wrote to the court urging that the journalists not be sent to prison, and on 1 June the court found them not guilty, as applauded by Pacific Media Watch and the International Federation of Journalists.

Konsellu Imprensa mosu iha tempu ida ne’ebé fó dezafiu, tanba Primeiru Ministru daudauk ne’e Rui Maria de Araújo husu ba Prokurador Jerál atu investiga artigu ida ne’ebé la loos ne’ebé publika iha Novembru 2015 hosi Timor Post ne’ebé fó alegasaun katak nia halo manipulasaun ba prosesu aprovizionamentu bainhira nia sei asesór hela iha Ministériu Finansa ne’ebé hadalan kontratu ida ba PT Packet Systems Indonesia. (Araújo hateten katak nia rekomenda kompañia seluk, no Timor Post intensionalmente falsifika informasaun.) Nia husu ba prokurador atu hare oinsá bele ka la'e akuza jornál ne’e ho nia jornalista Raimundos Oki ho “Denúnsia kalunioza” tuir artigu 285 Kódigu Penál (mós Portuges).

Iha 11 Abril, Prokurador investiga jornalista ida ne'e no editor Lourenco Vicente Martins. Federasaun Internasionál ba Jornalista sira kondena hahalok ida ne’e, no sira ho seluk tan hakerek karta ida ba Dr Araújo, ne’ebé fó nia resposta semana ida depois. Kontroversu ida ne’e hetan kobertura ida ne’ebé maka’as iha media lokál no internasionál sira, inklui artigu sira ne’ebé hakerek hosi advogadu Jim Nolan, Paul Cleary iha The Australian, Pacific Media Watch no Inter Press Service, no Global Voices.

Criminal Defamation Law proposed in 2020 (see separate web page)

Lei penál kontra defamasaun proposta iha tinan 2020 (hare pajina ketak)


Portuguese is the official language of all legal documents; translations may contain inadvertent differences.


Portuges mak lian legal iha RDTL, tradusaun sira bele inklui erru balun.

Analysis, news and commentary in English (newest first)

Analiza, notisias no komentáriu iha lian Tetum


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
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