World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


East Timor President Must Veto Criminal Defamation

Crucial Last Days for East Timor President to Veto Criminal Defamation in East Timor

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written to the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao calling for a veto of the penal code proposed by the Government of Timor-Leste criminalising defamation which is due to be promulgated in two days time.

“Criminal defamation is an affront to free speech,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren in his letter to Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.

“It has the chilling effect of silencing not only the individual charged but the media community as a whole, encouraging self censorship motivated by fear,” said Warren.

“The steps to building a democracy are not paved with draconian laws which punish journalists for doing their work, “ said Warren.

The IFJ supporting IFJ East Timor affiliate, Timor – Lorosa’e Journalists’ Association (TLJA)’s campaign to stop criminal defamation has written to the East Timor President asking him to use his constitutional powers to veto the law in order to guarantee democracy and to uphold democratic institutions.

The IFJ became alarmed over the media situation in East Timor after Prime Minister Mari Altakiri signed an executive decree approving a penal code that criminalises defamation on December 6, 2005, which will enter into force on February 10, 2006 unless the president uses his constitutional powers to veto the law.

The new penal code contains several harsh sections that will have a detrimental impact on journalism in East Timor. Under Article 173, individuals will face three years' imprisonment for defaming public officials, and the code contains no limits on fines.

Moreover, Article 176 doubles the term of imprisonment, from one year to two, where the defamation was committed through the media. Where the defamation is both through the media and committed against individuals performing "public, religious or political duties," the term of imprisonment is increased to three years.

“By introducing this Decree Law, the Government of East Timor is moving away from the truly democratic principles of freedom of the press and free speech, “ said Warren.

”A free press must be held accountable for its actions, but criminal defamation threatens the liberty of journalists, the fearless nature of a truly free press and hits at the very heart of a truly democratic society,” said Warren.

The IFJ has called on all affiliates to support TLJA in its campaign to stop criminal defamation in East Timor by sending letters of protest. A template letter is available to download from the IFJ website at Download the letter and send to before February 10.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news