‘Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.’
Kofi Annan, 1997
With Timor-Leste’s recent history marked by the struggle of its people for human rights, the application of human rights standards in this country represents more than a legal obligation; it represents the natural development path of independent Timor-Leste. Taking this path becomes a difficult task when there is limited access to tools required to bring about this reality.
The primary objective of this tool is to strengthen the access to documents related to the international human rights treaties already ratified by Timor-Leste.
The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste enshrines fundamental freedoms that have a universal character. It is essential that professionals have a good understanding of their meaning and content, so that these standards can find expression in the promotion and protection of human rights in Timor-Leste.
At present, those who are interested in deepening their knowledge on human rights standards are faced with some difficulties due to limited materials issued in Portuguese language by human rights bodies of the United Nations and the lack of materials translated into Tetum.
In addition to facilitating access to these documents to decision makers and relevant actors in Timor-Leste, this publication also aims to provide access to other relevant actors, in other words, National Human Rights Institutions, legislators, state agencies relevant judicial actors and civil society organizations, from other countries of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).
With this tool, the Provedoria for Human Rights and Justice hopes to provide a small, but important, contribution for the promotion and protection of human rights in Timor-Leste and in other countries of the CPLP.
This tool has two main sources of materials:
• International Human Rights Treaties ratified by Timor-Leste
• General Comments or Recommendations of the Treaty Bodies
As an illustration, the Constitution of Timor-Leste provides for the right to health for everyone (article 57). In practice, what are the duties of the state so that everyone can actually enjoy the right to health? Given the resources constraints, how can the right to health be implemented? Another example: in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution, nobody can be subject to discrimination. What is the meaning of discrimination, when compared with the legitimate differentiation that occurs every day in society?
These and other questions have been interpreted by the human rights treaties monitoring bodies, in the form of general comments or recommendations. The most relevant general comments and recommendations to the Timorese reality are reproduced here in Portuguese, Tetum and English. The documents in this publication include the areas of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as treaties dealing with specific vulnerable groups.
Together with the documents included here, you can also find two other instruments:
• A tool identifying the relationship between specific human rights standards in the Constitution of Timor-Leste and the standards included in the different treaties
• Search Tool in three languages (Portuguese, Tetum and English)