A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholder's Information'. Also included is the final report and the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.
Timor-Leste - Twenty-sixth session - 2016
3 November 2016 - 14:30 - 18:00
III. Results achieved and challenges encountered in the protection and promotion of human rights in Timor-Leste
C. National legal standards
14. To ensure the rights and responsibilities of children, youths or adolescents who commit offences or are in conflict with the law, the Government of Timor-Leste, through the Ministry of Justice is preparing a draft law on Punitive-Educational Measures for children aged 12–16 and a draft Special Regime for youths or adolescents aged 16–21 which has been submitted to the Council of Ministers to be scheduled for discussion and approval. The preparation of these two draft laws included public consultations with State institutions such as the courts, the Public Prosecution Service, the Office of the Public Defender, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Commission on the Rights of the Child (KDL), before final drafts were prepared (Recommendation 79.33).
16. The Fifth Constitutional Government continued to work hard with a policy of making politics non-partisan for civil servants, through the vision and mission of a Ministry of Education policy to eliminate physical/corporal punishment for children in schools that guarantees a “Zero Tolerance” policy with extensive implementation across the entire territory (Recommendation 77.26).
National Action Plan on Human Rights and Action Plan on Children's Rights
18. Timor-Leste has a commitment to the protection and development of human rights in Timor-Leste. Therefore, in 2014 based on an Instruction from Prime Minister, No.17/X/2014, the National Directive Commission (KDN) was established, led by the Ministry of Justice. The KDN comprises representatives from UN agencies in Timor-Leste (Human Rights Advisory Unit and UN-Women Timor-Leste), the Ombudsman, and representatives of civil society and line ministry human rights focal points, and will be given maximum support from a technical team from the Ministry of Justice. The main objective of establishing the KDN is to design and draft the Human Rights National Action Plan. Now the team has completed its desk research and has a plan to conduct field research to provide adequate and credible information to produce a quality National Action Plan on Human Rights (Recommendation 78.3).
19. Is now also providing maximum support to the KDL to establish a National Action Plan (NAP) for Children. The KDL is in the process of preparing a NAP for children through a seminar with key ministries and partners to start designing a NAP for children which will provide guidance to Timor-Leste on how to achieve better lives for children in the future. This NAP for children will provide guidelines to support the role of KDL in monitoring line ministries based on recommendations from the CRC Committee (Recommendation 77.16).
20. Timor-Leste also has the following action plans: national action plan on gender based violence and a national action plan for zero hunger and also other draft action plans such as an action plan on women, peace and security and a draft action plan on persons with disabilities.
Commission on the Rights of the Child (KDL)
23. KDL has a statute based on Ministerial Diploma No. 10/2014 when it was still under the Ministry Of Justice. Based on the policy of remodeling the Sixth Constitutional Government, the Commission is directly accountable to the Minister of State, Coordinator of Social Affairs (MEKAS) and will make efforts to revise and amend Decree-Law No. 6/2015 dated 11 March 2015. The Government of Timor-Leste has provided budgetary support to the Commission to establish its structure but with the remodeling the Commission needs to make the administrative transition over to the MEKAS. The KDL also has limited human resources to appoint leaders because some staff members are studying overseas, but there is a plan for the appointments to occur in 2016.
24. The KDL plays an important role in providing advocacy and carrying out interventions with the relevant ministries on legally related child issues such as registering births, the Draft Law on Punitive-Educational Measures for Minors, a special criminal regime for juveniles, revision of Article 173 of the Penal Code to also provide protection in cases of incest. In the field of education: physical punishment against children in school, school dropout and early pregnancy in school that relates to policies that will guarantee the rights of these minors. In the area of health: child malnutrition, clean water, sanitation and hygiene. In the area of social protection: a policy on child and family welfare including the bolsa da mãe program, a policy on children with disabilities. Also the issue of human trafficking of children domestically and overseas. Another important area is policy to protect child workers. And finally there is child sensitive infrastructure such as roads, buildings, electricity in rural areas (Recommendation 79.11).
25. The KDL also has an important role in providing advocacy on the State Budget to make it child sensitive to support the allocation of funds to social issues that are linked to the interests of children. Also, there is advocacy on an early childhood development system in Timor-Leste, and currently there are efforts to establish this system. The KDL Secretariat also receives complaints from children, families and communities in relation to acts of violence against children, and most cases received by the commission are referred to the competent institutions to be dealt with in accordance with the law.
26. The Government of Timor-Leste provides opportunities to staff in the KDL to obtain scholarships to improve the skills of staff in administration, rights and policies and social issues. The Government of Timor-Leste's policy of remodeling has had a good impact on the KDL as it was made directly accountable to the Minister of State, Coordinator of Social Affairs, to prepare the institutional management of the Commission, which included revising the statute of the Commission from a Ministerial Diploma to a Decree -Law, developing programs and human resources, increasing State funding to the Commission, and for the Commission to have its own building and land. Given these limitations, the Commission still needs the support of relevant institutions such as national and international Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and also UN agencies (Recommendation 77.17).
29. Judicial actors are an important pillar, and before they perform their duties they are given training by the Ministry of Justice through the Judicial Training Centre which provides training to judicial magistrates and public defenders as part of a plan to provide academic competence for the fifth round of Training for judicial magistrates and public defenders, between 2013 and 2015, to increase their knowledge about torture and mistreatment, especially in relation to vulnerable group such as children, women, the poor and persons with disabilities, with materials focusing on the C-RDTL and fundamental rights, the rights of families and minorities, children's rights and gender, with facilitation by UN agencies such as UNICEF and UN Women (Recommendation 77.31).
H. Child protection
46. The State has endeavored to promote a population register in Timor-Leste. The Ministry of Justice through the National Directorate of Registry and Notary Services has established a birth registration system for newborn babies in the 12 municipalities and Special Administrative Region of Oecusse as well as Dili with an offline system between 2002–2014, with a total number of 807,817 registrations. According to the law, it is compulsory to register a birth, and the State has taken concrete steps to prepare a memorandum of understanding with hospitals as well as clinics to register children aged 0– 5 across the entire territory (Recommendations 77.40 and 77.41).
47. Timor-Leste adopted a minimum age to gain access to the labor market based on Article 69 of the Labor Law which establishes the minimum age of 15 to be able to work, and minors aged can conduct light duties.10 This law prohibits children below the minimum age from performing work that could endanger their life. However, when the State of Timor-Leste ratified International Labour Organization Convention 182 its rules shall apply in the internal legal system according to Article 9 of the C-RDTL and therefore the age of 18 will apply to performing this work and Government Resolution No.1/2014 established the National Commission Against Child Labor to implement and monitor the implementation of the International Labour Organization Convention.
48. The State has established an internal regulation to approve a list of activities that have been considered and prohibited for children under the age of 18, to complement Article 67.2 d) of the Labor Law which prohibits children from performing work because the nature and conditions can be harmful to their health, security no morality.(Recommendation 77.29).
49. The State of Timor-Leste is strengthening its judicial system and upholding the best interests of children who are in conflict with the law. The Ministry of Justice is preparing a Draft Law on Punitive-Educational Measures for Minors aged 12–16 which has been submitted to the Council of Ministers for appraisal and approval and a Draft Special Penal Regime for Minors aged 16-21 which is currently involving public consultation with relevant institutions such as: the courts, the Public Prosecution Service, Office of the Public Prosecutor, the MSS and KDL (Recommendations 77.9–77.10 and 77.35–77.36).
50. The Timor-Leste Constitution guarantees that all people have the right to marriage which states that women and men that have free consent have the right to get married in accordance with Article 39.3, which defines 17 as the minimum age for marriage, but according to the civil code the minimum age for marriage is 16 but this requires the authorization and knowledge of parents or the party charged with responsibility. Timor-Leste recognizes that Timor-Leste has not yet defined the minimum age for marriage based on international laws. However, Timor-Leste's Strategic Development Plan (SDP) 2011- 2030 has specifically included a plan to continue educating the community through the dissemination of information about the impact of early marriage that can have negative impact on a person's life and a person can lose their rights to gain access to education and it can also have a negative impact on a person's reproductive health, especially for girls (Recommendation 78.25).
57. The Government, through the Ministry of Education, is focusing on ensuring that persons with disabilities gain access to free schooling and the provision of technical assistance to inclusive learning systems as well as currently providing training to 236 teachers with the aim of ensuring that children with disabilities can gain access to regular schools. Also the ME is implementing a policy for children with disabilities to attend public primary schools with the aim of learning together with other children who do not suffer a disability, with conditions that foster social interaction between them.
58. To better understand how many children have disabilities, the Government has started gathering data in rural areas to identify children with disabilities. Now, the Government is implementing a policy on accessibility to three municipalities as pilots, namely: Dili, Aileu and Lautem, and will continue to all of the other municipalities in the entire territory.
K. Economic, social and cultural rights
68. The Government of Timor-Leste continues to endeavor to reduce malnutrition in Timor-Leste, especially in relation to children. As a means of reducing malnutrition in Timor-Leste the Ministry of Education has conducted school feeding programs through a partnership with the UN Agency WFP, and this program has been implemented since 2006 until now in all municipalities as well as the Special Administrative Region of Oecusse. However, in 2012 the Government of Timor-Leste provided food for the school feeding program and also provided funding to purchase vegetables to accompany the food provided in the school feeding program and the aim of this school feeding program, in addition to reducing malnutrition, is for students to be motivated to learn during school hours (Recommendation 78.30).
70. To improve the quality of education and ensure that education programs pay specific attention to women, the Government, through the Ministry of Education, from 2011 onwards has provided pedagogical, ethics and Portuguese language training to all educators as well as specialized training or “bachelor” to those educators who were not previously trained as teachers. Also, the vision of the National Education Strategic Plan states that all Timorese should have access to school and receive a quality education to contribute to national development and for this reason the Ministry of Education has made changes to the periodic examination system to encourage educators to routinely or regularly approach each student and evaluate his/her daily study activities from the first year to eighth year and the students who study in year nine will have a national exam to measure their knowledge and they will be given a pass or fail in this exam.
71. Some measures have been adopted to improve the quality of education through comprehensive curriculum reform. In 2013 the Ministry of Education conducted curriculum reform for grades 1 to 6 and adopted a curriculum law that refers to education centers to promote participative teaching methodologies. In 2015 the Ministry of Education also started to introduce lesson plans for grade 1 to 4 with Social Science lessons also integrated with materials such as gender, disability, respect for diversity and protection for children against violence and abuse.
72. To facilitate the learning process for children in primary schools, the Ministry of Education has been working together with UNESCO Timor-Leste to promote mother tongues to make it easier for students to have a better understanding about teaching lessons and materials. These programs were first implemented in the municipalities of Lautem, Manatuto and the Special Administrative Region of Oecusse as pilot projects and will be expanded to all municipalities in Timor-Leste.
73. The education policy provides equal opportunities to all people to gain access to education regardless of their sex, and specifically addresses female students so they do not drop out and encourages parents to provide equal opportunities to their daughters and sons to gain access to education. Educators have the obligation to help provide solutions to children to gain access to schools. The enrolment rate during the last three years at primary school was 95.99% and for secondary school it was 60.48% and the Ministry of Education has zero tolerance for any form of violence against children in schools, and if it occurs the teaching body or education agents will remove the person from his/her position, and if a crime has been committed then proceedings will take place in accordance with the applicable law14 (Recommendations 78.39 and 78.40).
77. The Government of Timor-Leste continues to endeavor to increase the capacity of social protection services for the community, such as primary health care and education, and is conducting campaigns and implementing nutrition programs for children and taking appropriate measures to resolve technical issues about information and education, including measures to increase agricultural production and to monitor food insecurity to ensure feeding programs (Recommendations 77.42 and 77.45).
International technical assistance
89. Timor-Leste has had good cooperation with United Nations agencies, because these agencies provide technical and financial assistance to the Government of Timor-Leste to write its periodic reports on the CEDAW, and its initial CAT report and second cycle UPR report, with the support of the UN Human Rights Advisory Unit, UN-Women. The Government of Timor-Leste also received support from UNICEF-Timor-Leste who provided support with the writing of the combined second and third CRC report and provided support to KDL to establish a NAP for children (Recommendations 78.1 and 78.5).
I. Background and framework
A. Scope of international obligations
1. The United Nations country team in Timor-Leste noted that, during the first universal periodic review, Timor-Leste had indicated that it planned to ratify CRPD, but that it had not yet done so. In 2015, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women encouraged Timor-Leste to consider ratifying ICPPED and CRPDThe Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Timor-Leste ratify OP-CRC-IC, CRPD16 and ICPPED. It also recommended that Timor-Leste ratify the optional protocols to the core human rights treaties deposited with the Secretary-General to which it was not yet party.
C. Institutional and human rights infrastructure and policy measures
Status of national human rights institutions
7. The Committee on the Rights of the Child regretted that neither a special unit for children nor a focal point for children’s rights within the Office of the Provedor had been established, owing to a lack of expertise and human resource capacity, and financial constraints. It was concerned that the Office had not taken an active role in defending children’s rights and following up on complaints by children or made on behalf of children.
8. The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty recommended that Timor-Leste finalize the adoption of a national plan of action on gender-based violence and human trafficking, and dedicate sufficient resources to enable the Secretariat of State for the Promotion of Equality and key ministries to implement the plan. The Special Rapporteur also recommended that Timor-Leste adopt a national plan of action for children’s rights and provide the National Commission for the Rights of the Child with the necessary resources to enable it to carry out its mandate.
III. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
A. Equality and non-discrimination
10. The Committee on the Rights of the Child commended the inclusion of specific provisions for the protection of children from discrimination in the Constitution of Timor-Leste and in other laws, including with respect to children with disabilities and children born out of wedlock. It was concerned, however, that certain groups of children, especially children of returnees, children who were not in possession of a baptism certificate, children born out of wedlock, children conceived from sexual relations among family members, and children with disabilities, faced de facto discrimination, most importantly with regard to access to education and other services.
B. Right to life, liberty and security of person
15. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned about the prevalence of domestic violence, including incest and sexual abuse of girls, the low reporting rate stemming from victims’ fear of stigmatization or revictimization and the general lack of awareness among women and men, including community leaders, of the criminal nature of domestic violence.
16. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned about the prevalence of abuse and neglect of children, and about the widespread sexual abuse of children, including incest, in Timor-Leste. It recommended that Timor-Leste formulate a comprehensive strategy to combat child abuse in all settings, implement the Law against Domestic Violence and the policy for child protection, and adopt and implement the draft child protection law.
17. The Committee noted that the draft children’s code prohibited corporal punishment in schools and provided for mandatory reporting obligations with respect to child abuse. It was concerned, however, that corporal punishment was widely accepted in society and remained lawful in schools, in the home and in residential institutions.
18. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted that corporal punishment, together with verbal abuse, constituted ill-treatment. Even though the Government had taken several measures to address that issue, it continued to be a frequent occurrence.
19. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned about the high number of children involved in labour, the majority of whom worked in agriculture, including the coffee sector, in fishing, construction, domestic service, street and market vending and prostitution, and about the situation of children forced to work as servants to settle their families’ outstanding debts.
20. The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was concerned at reports that boys (as well as men) from Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand were forced to work on foreign fishing boats operating in Timorese waters, where they faced conditions of confinement and malnutrition and did not receive any medical care.
21. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Timor-Leste develop a comprehensive strategy for the protection of children in street situations and provide children in street situations with adequate protection and assistance for recovery and reintegration, including shelter, education and vocational training, health-care services, including HIV/AIDS screening, substance abuse treatment programmes and mental health counselling.
22. The same Committee was concerned that Timor-Leste was a destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and had been a source country for adults and children for forced labour.46 The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that sanctions for pimping and forced prostitution were not effectively and adequately imposed.
23. The same Committee was concerned that there had been no convictions in Timor-Leste for the crime of trafficking in 2013-2014 and only one conviction in 2015, that victim identification efforts remained inadequate and that the support services were underutilized owing to a lack of victim identification.
C. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
27. The Committee was further concerned about the failure to prevent and provide redress for all crimes against women and girls and about the low number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse, the lenient sentences in domestic violence cases, the failure to issue protection orders and the excessive use of mediation under the informal justice system in cases of domestic violence.
30. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted that the Governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste were working together to establish a survivor healing programme, particularly for survivors of rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence committed during the Indonesian occupation in 1999. The Committee was, however, concerned that survivors of that sexual violence continued to experience social stigma and ostracism, and had limited access to medical, psychological, reproductive and mental health services and treatment. It urged Timor-Leste to implement the recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and the Commission on Truth and Friendship relating to redress for women and girls who were victims of violations during that period.
32. The Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that the juvenile justice regime was currently undergoing significant review and reform. The Committee was concerned about the insufficient capacity and specialized training of personnel in child justice administration and about the use of informal community mediation mechanisms to deal with serious cases of children in conflict with the law. The country team noted that there had been limited investment in the development of a holistic juvenile justice system that would include prevention, diversion, social reintegration and aftercare.
33. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned about the grouping together of juveniles and adult prisoners at the Becora prison, and the lack of a single juvenile centre.
D. Right to privacy, marriage and family life
35. The Committee noted with concern that the minimum age for marriage was set at 17 years for both boys and girls and that, at 16 years of age, girls and boys could enter into marriage with the consent of their parents. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned that child marriage, especially of girls, remained highly prevalent.
36. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called upon Timor-Leste to expeditiously adopt a comprehensive strategy to eliminate discriminatory stereotypes and harmful practices such as child and forced marriage and polygamy.
39. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Timor-Leste ensure that all children were provided with birth certificates free of charge, including through outreach programmes in remote areas, and adopt and implement the draft civil registry code.The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was concerned at the lack of specific measures to register migrant children at birth and to ensure their citizenship rights.
40. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned that informal foster-care arrangements, whereby children were placed in families other than biological families, put those children at risk of abuse and exploitation. It was also concerned about the informal adoption practice whereby families placed their children with other families, often because of situations of poverty and indebtedness.
F. Right to work and to just and favourable conditions of work
49. The Committee also noted with concern that most women did not participate at all in the labour force: 78 per cent of those who did participate were engaged in the informal sector without appropriate social security coverage, and 86 per cent of women and girls with disabilities had no access to vocational training. The Committee recommended that Timor-Leste monitor the working conditions of women in the informal economy, particularly in agriculture, to ensure that they had access to social protection, including with regard to maternity protection.
G. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living
54. The Committee also recommended that Timor-Leste continue its efforts to transform the transitional regime for social security into a universal social security system and adopt specific measures to guarantee adequate social welfare for all women, particularly women and girls who took care of persons with disabilities within the family and who had been displaced by domestic violence.
55. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was deeply concerned about the high rate of children living below the poverty line. It was also concerned that many families were in situations of poverty, faced food insecurity and lacked appropriate assistance, resulting in children being placed in residential care facilities. It recommended that Timor-Leste finalize and implement the Child and Family Welfare System Policy and strengthen the system of family benefits and child allowances and other services, such as accessible early childhood education and care.
H. Right to health
58. The country team stated that, while progress had been made in reducing under-5 and infant mortality, the level remained high compared to countries in the region, and considerable differences remained between rural and urban areas and between municipalities. Routine immunization coverage had remained stagnant at around 70 to 80 per cent for the past several years. Undernutrition was a major determinant of ill-health and contributed to a third of child mortality.
59. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that there was severe underreporting of maternal deaths and that the maternal mortality ratio remained the highest in East Asia. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Timor-Leste ensure the provision of adequate resources, particularly for neonatal, prenatal and postnatal care, especially in rural areas, and improve training and access to health-care professionals and midwives for childbirth.
60. The Committee was concerned about the high levels of malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and stunting rates, 99 the high number of children not fully immunized, and insufficient access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene facilities, including in schools and health facilities, especially in rural areas. 100
61. The Committee was concerned that there was limited access to mental health care and psychosocial rehabilitation for children, especially for those who were exposed to violence.
63. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Timor-Leste raise awareness about open defecation and proper sanitation and hand-washing practices.
65. The Committee was concerned about the high teenage pregnancy rate, which was linked to the prevalence of child marriage in Timor-Leste, and about the limited knowledge of reproductive health. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that women and girls, especially in remote and rural areas, faced significant challenges in gaining access to sexual and reproductive health services, particularly skilled care at birth, antenatal and postnatal care and family planning, and that emergency health care remained extremely limited in rural areas.
I. Right to education
66. UNESCO noted that the Government had adopted the National Education Strategic Plan (2011-2030), which was the first attempt to comprehensively analyse the situation of education in Timor-Leste.
67. The country team highlighted the fact that, while there had been a consistent increase in absolute spending in education for over a decade, spending had declined as a proportion of the total national budget and gross domestic product. In 2014, only 8 per cent of the State budget had been allocated to education, and within the sector, there had been a decline in funding for basic education.
68. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned about the low number of children enrolled in preschool and secondary schools, particularly in rural areas, the number of children out of school, repetition, especially at the pre-secondary level, and dropout rates, particularly among boys. It recommended that Timor-Leste increase access to, retention in and completion of basic education through inclusive and better quality education, particularly for children with disabilities, children living in extreme poverty, pregnant teenagers, children living in remote areas and children who were members of minority linguistic groups. The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families recommended that Timor-Leste ensure access to the education system for migrant workers, especially their children, including through addressing linguistic barriers. The country team recommended that Timor-Leste implement the inclusive education policy.
69. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that the rate of school dropout among girls remained very high at almost 50 per cent between the primary and secondary levels, owing to early pregnancy, gender-based violence and the lack of adequate sanitation in schools, especially in rural areas.
70. The Committee welcomed the zero-tolerance policy initiated by the Ministry of Education in 2011 against malpractice in the education sector, covering sexual violence, corporal punishment and other forms of violence in schools, but it regretted that the policy had not been effectively implemented. It was concerned that the sanctions for sexual harassment and abuse in schools were lenient and that teachers who were perpetrators of sexual violence were merely transferred to other schools.
71. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned about low literacy levels in Tetum and Portuguese. It recommended that Timor-Leste continue to develop bilingual textbooks and teacher guides in all core subjects. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that Timor-Leste eradicate illiteracy, particularly among rural women, by conducting literacy programmes in local languages and in Portuguese.
J. Persons with disabilities
72. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that women and girls with disabilities continued to experience social exclusion, stigma, violence and multiple discrimination on the basis of their gender and disability, especially regarding access to education, employment, health care and justice.
73. The Committee noted that Timor-Leste had a national policy on the rights of persons with disabilities, but that it was neither effectively implemented nor monitored. It was concerned that the adoption of the national action plan for persons with disabilities remained pending. The Committee on the Rights of the Child urged Timor-Leste to strengthen support for caregivers of children with disabilities, including by increasing the Bolsa da Mãe stipend.
74. The country team noted that persons with disabilities faced challenges in using health services as many health facilities were not physically accessible and health workers lacked the basic knowledge and skills to assist them. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that Timor-Leste improve access to all existing health-care facilities and services, including sexual and reproductive services, and expand the coverage of specialized health services for women and girls with disabilities.
75. The Committee recommended that Timor-Leste take measures, including temporary special measures, to ensure access to inclusive education and vocational training for women and girls with disabilities and to prevent discrimination in recruitment against women with disabilities.
76. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned that sufficient and adequate facilities for children with disabilities in schools, sports and leisure facilities and residential facilities were lacking, particularly in rural areas.
I. Information provided by the national human rights institution of the State under review accredited in full compliance with the Paris Principles
2. The PDHJ highlighted that despite that the Constitution adopts the general and customary principles of international law and treaties ratified by Timor-Leste, and that all national legislation must not be in contradiction with international law, Timor-Leste failed to adopt in full the general recommendations of the treaty bodies, in particular those of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
5. The PDHJ stated that the mandate of the National Children’s Rights Commission should be broadened to cover institutional interventions against the ministries working in relevant children’s rights areas and to receive complaints regarding violations of children’s human rights.
11. The PDHJ noted that the draft law on special penal regime to youth from 16 to 21 years of age was submitted to the Council of Ministers, whose approval had been put on hold for a while impacting on the prosecution of cases involving children.
12. The PDHJ noted that Timor-Leste was implementing the national immunization programmes to children from 0 – 9 years of age across the country. However, lack of awareness from the local communities, and lack of access by community members living in very remote areas, to the services provided by health posts and health centres, was complicated by the lack of facility to ensure quality of vaccines.
II. Information provided by other stakeholders
A. Background and framework
3. Institutional and human rights infrastructure and policy measures
20. Joint Submission 4 (JS4) welcomed the measures undertaken by the Government to implement Recommendation No. 77.41 of the previous UPR concerning birth registration. JS4 also noted that in 2011, the National Birth Registration Campaign registered over 63,300 children. However, further efforts were needed to fully implement Recommendation 77.41, especially in rural and remote areas of the country where children are often born at home.
B. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
2. Right to life, liberty and security of the person
29. Cultural Survival (CS) noted that despite the Law against Domestic Violence and the National Action Plan on Domestic Violence, the Government had failed to implement necessary service and protection for indigenous women and girls. AI expressed similar concern that the Law against Domestic Violence did not adequately meet the standards of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. JS1 recommended that Parliament discuss and adopt the proposed amendments to the Penal Code and the Law against Domestic Violence, as well as the draft (anti) Human Trafficking Law with due consideration of comments submitted by civil society.
30. JS4 noted that few cases of violence and fewer cases of sexual abuse against children went to court. The law placed primary responsibility on parents to initiate cases of sexual abuse for a child under the 15 years of age. Problem arose when the alleged offender was a parent, which leaves the child trapped in an abusive family.
33. JS1 also stated that the implementation of legal mechanisms for protection of victims and witnesses particularly women and children victims of violence needed to be strengthened. Witnesses and victims were not, in practice, afforded effective protection measures even when there were obvious threats to their safety and well-being.
34. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) stated that corporal punishment of children in Timor-Leste was unlawful in the penal system but it was not prohibited in the home, alternative care settings, day care and schools. GIEACPC further noted that a draft Children’s Code was under discussion, which provides an immediate opportunity for prohibiting all corporal punishment. JS4 also expressed concern that corporal punishment was a common practice that remains difficult to eradicate, particularly in the education system.
35. JS4 stated that child labour was common regarding support of family income and families often prioritized labour over education for their children, especially in rural areas. Most often, children worked on family farming plots in their local villages in the informal economy and many were involved in work that is dangerous or onerous.
3. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
41. AI regretted the lack of justice, truth and reparation for women and girls who were subjected to sexual violence and gender-based violence by members of the Indonesian security forces and their auxiliaries, as well as by Timorese men, during the Indonesian occupation and the independence referendum between 1975 and 1999.
42. JS1 highlighted the remaining important gaps in the legislative, policy and institutional framework for child protection and juvenile justice. According to JS1, two draft laws relating to juvenile justice, the Tutelary and Education Law for children 12 to 16 years of age and Special Penal Regime for 16 to 21 year-olds have not moved forward within the Ministry of Justice and need further consultation.
4. Right to privacy, marriage and family life
43. International Human Rights Advocacy Group, William S Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii at Manoa (IHRAG) noted that the customary practices of Timor-Leste had the children go with the husband rather than the mother if there is a divorce.
44. IHRAG highlighted that the customary practice of “barlake” played a substantial role in arranging the marriage of a young woman in exchange for payment. Most women and young girls also faced domestic violence in their public and private lives severely impacting their ability to gain access to education and become equal members of society.
7. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living
53. JS1 noted the Bolsa Da Mãe (mother’s purse) programme that targets families in a situation of high vulnerability living below the poverty line on the condition that their children attend school and are immunized. JS1 also noted the concerns over a lack of effective control mechanisms of the programme to ensure the schooling and immunization requirements are fulfilled.
8. Right to health
55. Joint Submission 2 (JS2) noted the seemingly lack of synergy between the departments of Health and Education responsible for children regarding their access to healthcare services. As such, the major issues of respiratory problems, diarrhoea in babies, precautions against tuberculosis and dangers of betel nut chewing and smoking habits appeared not to be addressed by either department in a systematic manner through the provision of education and prevention programmes.
9. Right to education
57. JS2 noted the assurances of the Government that it was working towards implementing the National Education Strategic Plan (2011-2013) through a review of the curriculum, conducting regular training for teachers, and keeping of detailed records of attendance. JS2 however expressed concern that the appalling level of staff and children absence from school was not being addressed.66
58. Similarly, JS4 noted that despite an impressive increase in enrolments in TimorLeste in recent years, many children still did not have access to school, entered school late, were at risk of repetition, or dropped out early.
59. IHRAG highlighted that there was a gap in the primary education of boys and girls that by the time secondary education is completed created a significant impediment to women having equal status in society.
60. JS4 also noted that although the national law recognized the rights of the child and prohibited discrimination, discrimination in access to school, especially for some vulnerable groups of children such as those from the poorest families, girls and children with disabilities persisted.
61. JS4 stated that the availability of education was a major concern where poor physical infrastructure of schools, shortage of textbooks and teaching materials and an ambiguous schedule for school hours can prevent the provision of quality education for the children.
62. Similarly, JS1 noted that school facilities remained inadequate in number and conditions such as lack of access to learning materials, sanitation and classroom furniture, as well as frequent absenteeism of teachers.
63. JS1 noted that a draft national policy on inclusive education acknowledged pregnant girls and young mothers as a group at risk of unofficial exclusion.
64. JS4 noted that Tetum was currently more commonly used in schools attended by children of the poorest areas and Portuguese was more commonly used in schools attended by children from higher income families, leading to an economic bias in education. JS2 also expressed concern about engrained nepotism in the system whereby family members are appointed to teaching positions over qualified teachers emerging from the National and Baucau Teachers Colleges.
10. Persons with disabilities
66. JS5 noted a lack of statistical data concerning women and girls with disabilities in Timor-Leste. As a result, the Government was making programming and budget decisions that do not take into account all people with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities.
67. JS5 stated that violence and neglect of children with disabilities was widespread in Timor-Leste. Due to the shame and stigma associated with disability, many families hide children inside the house or limit the child’s exposure to society. JS5 also noted the shackling and restraining of children with disabilities, particularly children with psychosocial impairments.
70. JS5 also noted that people with hearing impairments had limited freedom of expression as there was no official sign language developed or recognized by the State. In this regard, JS5 recommended that the Government commit resources and support to enable the Timor-Leste Deaf community to develop a recognized sign language ensuring that children and young people who are deaf and who have hearing impairments have the opportunity to be taught in their national sign language.
71. JS5 stated that the lack of a specific carer’s allowance to support those who look after children with disabilities under the age of 18 was creating problems for families who struggle to support their children with disabilities. In this regard, JS5 recommended that the Government reform Decree Law Number 19/2008 on the Subsidy to the Elderly and Disabled People to make the subsidy easier to access, and reform Decree Law Number 18/2012 on Bolsa Da Mãe to revise the criteria to prioritize families that include a member with disability to receive the Bolsa Da Mãe, and ensure that citizens are aware of this eligibility.
73. JS5 emphasized that children with intellectual impairments and sensorial impairments such as children who are blind or deaf faced particularly significant challenges in attending school and accessing learning material. Regular schools throughout the country were not equipped to provide Braille materials or sign language interpretation, and they were not able to reach in these formats. In this regard, JS5 recommended that the Government take concerted steps towards inclusive education prioritizing the training of all teachers in inclusive education as an integral part of core teacher training curricula and in continued in-service teacher training, and allocate budget for the availability for assistive devise and accessible materials, equipment and environments in schools as well as the provision of support in classrooms to children with disabilities.
11. Indigenous peoples
75. CS noted that attempts to create a national identity after independence led to Portuguese being heavily prioritized in education, which imperilled the moth tongues of indigenous peoples in Timor-Leste because their children were forced to assimilate in educational settings.
The following recommendations enjoy the support of Timor-Leste:
89.35 Complete the children’s code with the inclusion of specific provisions for the protection of children from discrimination, abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence (Portugal);
89.36 Enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to ensure that everyone, including those under 18, is protected in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Canada);
89.42 Intensify existing efforts and take additional administrative and legislative measures necessary to ensure birth registration of all children born in Timor-Leste, particularly those born in homes (Mexico);
89.43 Continue to adopt measures to increase the rate of issuance of birth certificates, especially in rural areas, while introducing specific measures to register migrant children at birth (Turkey);
89.44 Continue implementing the Dili Declaration, entitled “Invest in women and children — invest in equality”, endorsed by the National Parliament, the Government, the Church and civil society (Cuba);
89.45 Continue to protect vulnerable groups, particularly children and women (Senegal);
89.52 Effectively implement the national action plan on human rights to promote and protect the most vulnerable groups including women, children and persons with disabilities (Republic of Korea);
89.53 Finalize the elaboration of the national action plans on children’s and human rights (Cuba);
89.54 Allocate sufficient resources and adopt effective measures to further establish and implement national strategies on human rights, including a national action plan on human rights, an action plan on children’s rights, the National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence and the national action plan for zero hunger (Viet Nam);
89.56 Adopt a national plan of action for children’s rights and provide the National Commission on the Rights of the Child with the necessary resources (Turkey);
89.57 Finalize and implement the child and family welfare system policy (Turkey);
89.58 Adopt a national plan of action for the rights of children (Algeria);
89.59 Establish a national implementation action plan, with the special mandate to keep girls in schools, particularly in rural areas, provide for their specific needs and help them in secondary education (Haiti);
89.74 Continue implementing policies to protect the rights of women and girls, including legal actions against violence and discrimination (Pakistan);
89.84 Designate a central high-level agency responsible for implementing the National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence and ensure adequate budget is allocated to seriously tackle widespread and intergenerational rates of child abuse and violence against women (Australia);
89.91 Continue to strengthen its measures to counter human rights violations against women and girls, in particular domestic violence, and at the same time enhance its measures to promote the social participation of women and girls (Japan);
89.94 Strengthen the measures for the protection of the rights of the child, also in order to prevent the practice of early marriage (Italy);
89.97 Ensure the implementation of already ratified international conventions in the spheres of women’s and children’s rights, including those related to combating violence against them (Ukraine);
89.98 Step up measures to fight violence against children, particularly through the implementation of the prohibition of all corporal punishment in all settings, including within the family, in alternative care settings and schools, as set out in the draft children’s code (Brazil);
89.99 Continue the efforts undertaken to protect children from violence, neglect and abuse, including by adopting the children’s code, and to ensure that the national strategy for the protection of children 2011-2030 will be effectively implemented (France);
89.100 Combat all forms of violence against and exploitation of children including incest, human trafficking and human organ trafficking, ensure their access to justice, and provide rehabilitation of victims into the society (Malaysia);
89.101 Strengthen the framework of protection of the rights of children, in particular by adopting legislative and programmatic measures to prevent and punish sexual abuse, exploitation and violence against them, as well as measures to facilitate access to legal assistance, and medical and psychological support to victims of these crimes (Mexico);
89.102 Further strengthen its measures to protect children and youths from all forms of violence (Myanmar);
89.118 Continue strengthening the initiatives taken for the observance of the rights and responsibilities of children and adolescents in conflict with the law (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela);
89.119 Implement actions with a comprehensive and preventive approach in relation to children in conflict with the law through alternative justice measures of deprivation of freedom, taking into account different programmes for children in conflict with the law (Panama);
89.131 Implement programmes to guarantee the rights of children with regard to health, education and protection from violence, and develop national awareness-raising plans to combat school dropout (Spain);
89.133 Redouble its efforts to improve the basic standard of living including health and the education system (Republic of Korea);
89.140 Step up its efforts to provide adequate health facilities and comprehensive education for all (Thailand);
89.141 Increase the percentage of overall government spending dedicated to health and education (Australia);
89.144 Consolidate access to education, especially for the most vulnerable sectors of the population (Angola);
89.145 Ensure the right to access to quality education for vulnerable groups of people, including women and children (Lao People’s Democratic Republic);
89.146 Continue to promote policies and programmes providing access to education for all, as well as on literacy (Libya);
89.148 Increase its investment in education so that future generations are better able to engage in the social and economic development of the country and to further take steps to eradicate corporal punishment in schools (New Zealand);
89.149 Adopt concrete measures and programmes to effectively address the causes for high school dropout rates among girls such as early pregnancy, gender-based violence and the lack of adequate sanitation in schools and to ensure their implementation, including by providing the necessary funding (Slovenia);
89.152 Take steps to ensure that vulnerable groups, especially children with disabilities, continue to gain access to free education in an inclusive learning environment (Brunei Darussalam);
The following recommendations have been noted by the State party:
89.120 Raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 for boys and girls, in accordance with the joint general recommendation No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women/general comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (2014) on harmful practices (Panama);
89.121 Set the age of marriage in law and in practice to a minimum of 18 years for both sexes, with no exceptions, traditional or otherwise, and raise public awareness of this law (Haiti).