Proposed Law Regarding Importation, Possession and Sale of Weapons Used by Martial/Ritual Arts Groups

Proposed Law Regarding Importation, Possession and Sale of Weapons Used by Martial/Ritual Arts Groups post thumbnail image

Press Release

In January 2017, the Council of Ministers approved a proposed Law regarding crimes related to Rama Ambon attacks, include the importation, possession and sale of weapons used in these attacks. The draft law had been under discussion by Parliament, with Parliamentary Committee A recently consulting with public entities as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s). The issue of Martial Arts Groups (MAG’s), Ritual Arts Groups (RAG’s), and melee weapon and arrow attacks are prominent in Timor-Leste at this time. Law No.16/2013, Extinction of Martial Arts Groups, forbade the activities of MAG’s engaging in violence. However, some MAG’s are continuing with their activities, secretly recruiting and training new members, whilst their has been an increasing link between MAG’s and criminal activities. These activities have threatened people’s safety and caused injuries and trauma, with Timorese citizens avoiding areas associated with MAG’s and Rama Ambon due to fear of attack. The majority of the victims of these attacks where young people going out at night. Fundasaun Mahein (FM) has identified that many of these victims are involved with MAG’s and/or RAG’s.

Suspects believed to be involved with MAG’s/RAG’s and Rama Ambon attacks have been captured by the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), yet many of these suspects have been released due to a lack of specific legislation. FM is appreciative of this new Law to regulate these activities which are creating fear among Timorese citizens.

However, it is not yet clear regarding the definitions of MAG’s/RAG’s and involvement with such groups, nor the penalties for their proscribed activities. Nor have the economic, social and cultural ramifitcations been considered.


FM recommends that Committee A of the the National Parliament consults with other relevant stakeholders regarding human rights, legal penalties, and potential economic, social and cultural rammifications, in order to ensure the implementation of this Law appropriately reflects the context of Timor-Leste.

For more details on this issue, please contact:

Nélson Belo
Executive Director of FM
Phone: +670 78316075 or 7756 1184

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