Law & Justice Seminars

Fri. 18 of December of 2020, 22:10h

The Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, participated in the opening session of the Law & Justice Seminars, which will take place from December 18th to 23rd, 2020, via videoconference, using the Zoom platform, from 10 a.m. in Lisbon, 7 p.m. in Dili. This cycle of seminars is an initiative of the Timor – Lei & Justiça Network, in collaboration with the Project to Support the Consolidation of the Rule of Law in the PALOP and East Timor (PACED).

The Law & Justice Seminars’ theme is “COVID-19: Rule of Law and protection of fundamental rights in the Portuguese-speaking space” and they aim to encourage the discussion and share of experiences and responses found to face the pandemic, identifying challenges and opportunities, and presenting, in the end, proposals that can assist in the formulation of policies and relevant decision-making during and after the pandemic, especially in matters that affect, in particular, the lives of each of the citizens, whether in their collective sphere, or in their individual sphere.

The first panel, which took place today, December 18th, 2020, had the theme “COVID-19: Rule of Law, emergency laws and restriction of fundamental rights”. This panel included the opening speech by the Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, who addressed the thematic “Legislative and economic measures taken by the Government of Timor-Leste in the fight against COVID-19: It is possible to be effective, without violating the human rights: a vision of Timor-Leste”.

This panel was moderated by the former Minister of Justice, Angela Carrascalão, and also had the participation, as speakers, of the former Minister, Dionísio Babo Soares and former President of the Legislative and the Justice Sector Reform Committee, Jorge Graça, as well as, with the participation of speakers from Portugal, Cabo Verde and São Tomé e Príncipe.

On December 21st, it will be the turn of the theme “COVID-19 and the increasing use of media and digital platforms in the judicial system: challenges and opportunities”. On the 22nd the addressed theme will be “COVID-19 and gender equality: impact, measures and responses” and, on the last day of the Law & Justice Seminars, there will be a special edition in Tetun, addressing the theme “COVID-19 no limitasaun direitu fundamentál sira iha Timor-Leste” (COVID-19 and the limitation of fundamental rights in Timor-Leste).

Minister Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, in his intervention, gave a retrospective of the Government’s measures, in response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, despite the “especially complex” situation, in which “the challenges seemed at some point almost insurmountable”, allowed that, at the end of 2020, Timor-Leste to find itself "facing a highly favourable situation for the year 2021”. He also expressed his satisfaction because 2021 “looks like it’s going to be a year of political stability and a lot of work on the economic recovery, from the consequences of the pandemic, and also on the socio-economic development in Timor-Leste”.

The Minister stressed the Government’s rapid response, with the adoption of the first initiatives even before the detection of the first case, on March 21st, and with the reinforcement of measures on March 22nd.

The Governor also highlighted the actions taken by the Government to respond to the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, which he believes has left “Timor-Leste in very favourable conditions for a rapid recovery”. Among “the most significant measures to combat the economic effects of the pandemic”, Fidelis Magalhães referred to the monetary support for families, the support for companies that had to adopt lay-off procedures, the support for employees involved in frontline service, the temporary allowance for Timorese citizens living abroad and the moratorium on loan repayments.

The Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers also stated that “there is no news of any abuses or complaints from citizens” and that “this rich, shared and plural experience reveals how well the rule of law is alive in Timor-Leste, as the balance of powers works and, in particular, how the courts assert themselves as independent in defending what they consider to be citizens’ rights”.

The Minister ended his speech by stating that “considering the starting point, a year ago, considering this fight from the limitations of the public health system, in a duodecimal budget regime, with no approved General State Budget, and in the middle of a political crisis, we cannot fail to salute all Timorese for the citizenship example, that today allows us to look at 2021 in a much more optimistic way”.