02 February 2015

Unconstitutional Resolutions

La'o Hamutuk recently received an in-depth legal analysis of the three resolutions by Government and Parliament which resulted in the removal of foreign judges and advisers from the judicial sector in Timor-Leste at the end of October 2014.  The 11-page analysis, which was prepared for an institution which decided not to issue it officially,  concludes:
  • The Resolutions are contrary to the Constitution as they contravene the principles of the separation of power and the independence of the judiciary. As a result, they are invalid and unenforceable.
  • The Resolutions purport to enact law on a matter over which neither the National Parliament nor the Government has competence under the Constitution and are therefore invalid and unenforceable.
  • The Resolutions are unenforceable because they are inconsistent with superior laws.
  • The notification by the Ministry of Justice purporting to cancel the employment contracts of the international judges may in fact be of no legal effect, depending on the nature of the contractual arrangement governing their employment. The notification may also be invalid as a matter of contract law.
  • Because of the invalidity of the Parliamentary Resolution and the First Government Resolution, and doubts around the validity of the purported cancellation of the international judges’ employment agreements, the Second Government Resolution is also invalid. Accordingly, any action taken by the Immigration Service or the Police to enforce the Second Government Resolution may also be subject to a legal challenge.
We have posted this analysis to http://www.laohamutuk.org/Justice/2014/ExpertLegalOpinion.pdf and hope that it will improve people's understanding of these issues. Other documents and analyses in English, Portuguese and/or Tetum, including a comprehensive one by JSMP, are also linked from http://www.laohamutuk.org/Justice/2014/14Judges.htm.  We look forward to reading the report from the Justice Sector Audit requested by Parliament, which is supposed to be presented to Parliament and the public early in 2015.

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