Progress in the Third Legislature of the National Parliament and the Committee for Defense, Security and Foreign Affairs
Per its mandate according to Law No.15/2009, the National Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste represents all citizens of Timor-Leste and holds legislative power in the government, supervising all political decisions made in the administration. Within the internal charter for parliament, Article 30 defines Committee B as the “Specialized Permanent Commission (KEP)” that operates under a constitutional mandate to focus on three issues: foreign affairs, defense, and national security.
In addition to these three issues, Committee B also focuses on issues affecting Timorese citizens abroad: policies on international cooperation: international treaties and accords, CPLP issues, international statues for Portuguese language countries, Timorese foreign promotion interests, integrated ASEAN regional issues, peace forums, national defense, military cooperation, public safety and security, civil protection, and immigration.
During the third (3rd) legislative mandate (2014-2016), Committee B has prioritized supervision and legislation within its agenda. Committee B members have made trips personally to municipalities and headquarters of the F-FDTL and PNTL. The committee has also prioritized legislation, holding public meetings and consults with civil society actors, government, and commanders of the police and military. These meetings include discussions, comments and approval for proposed laws, legislative projects, and resolution of legislation concerning defense and security issues.
However, FM’s monitoring has identified that the committee’s supervision is extremely lacking. Specifically, Committee B has prioritized their work time and commitments in the committee hall in Dili over supervisory trips in the municipalities. This supervision is critical in the committee’s checks and balances of power abuse, sustainability of policy, development of military and state institutions, and accountability to the people.
FM also notes that over the past three years (2014-2016), the committee has not created a specific agenda for supervision of MNEK and Timorese diplomatic services abroad, which has resulted in instances of checkpoint halts against Timorese diplomatic representatives during official visits.
FM Recommends that:
1. Committee B strengthen its human resources internally in strategic areas related to foreign affairs, defense and security issues, and further improve the Commission’s services in supervision and legislation.
2. Committee B increases its supervision rigorously over foreign affairs policy, ministry cooperation, and particularly mandates for diplomats representing Timor-Leste abroad and foreign ministers operating in Timor-Leste.
3. Committee B establishes communication and relations with relevant ministries and civil society actors who should be involved in the supervisory process. The Committee should also report on its supervisory outcomes on the official web portal of the National Parliament so that the public can access information related to foreign affairs, defense, and security issues.
For more details on this issue, please contact:
Executive Director of FM
Phone: +670 78316075 or 7756 1184