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APF supports Timor Leste NHRI chart path ahead

Graphic: Participants at the High Level Dialogue

The NHRI’s three-member leadership team discussed strategies to strengthen the organisation and improve human rights outcomes in the young nation.

The newly-appointed leadership team of Timor Leste's national human rights institution (NHRI) recently met with the APF to explore strategies that will strengthen the organisation and improve human rights outcomes in the young nation.

The Provedoria for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) – an 'A status' NHRI established in 2004 – has a dual mandate to promote human rights and good governance.

Ms Jesuina Maria Ferreira Gomes was sworn in as Provedera (Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice in November 2018, while her two deputies – Mr Miguel Pereira de Carvalho (Deputy Ombudsman for Good Governance) and Ms Benicia Eriana Magno (Deputy Ombudsman for Human Rights) – started their roles in March 2019.

"The mandate of Timor Leste's NHRI is quite unique in the Asia Pacific, where the vast majority of NHRIs are human rights commissions," said Pip Dargan, APF Principal Adviser, Capacity Assessments and International Engagement.

"Samoa's NHRI is one of the few NHRIs in our region that has a dual mandate, which is why it was so helpful that Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma was able to join the discussions and share his insights in leading that NHRI," she said.

The APF's High Level Dialogue encourages new Commissioners within an NHRI to talk openly, share their priorities and chart a course to better promote and protect human rights in their country.

The topics covered during the two-day APF High-Level Dialogue included:

  • Key human rights issues facing the people of Timor Leste, including gender-based violence, poverty and sexual and reproductive health rights
  • Developing a strategic plan to guide the work of the NHRI and its new leadership team
  • Using national inquiries to address systemic human rights issues
  • Engaging with the international human rights system
  • Strengthening the capacity of the NHRI's staff, who operate from a central office in Dili and four regional offices.

Senior NHRI managers, including directors of the regional offices, joined the three-member leadership team for the second day of discussions.

There was a significant interest in the National Inquiry into Family Violence, undertaken by Samoa's NHRI between 2016 and 2018, with many participants suggesting that a national inquiry could be similarly effective way to build community understanding and support for human rights in Timor Leste.

In addition, with the current strategic plan due to expire in 2020, the PDHJ expressed its desire to undertake a robust strategic planning process that would engage staff, civil society partners and other stakeholders.

The APF High Level Dialogue, held in Dili from 21-22 August 2019, was facilitated by APF Expert NHRI Consultant Chris Sidoti, Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma, and Pip Dargan, representing the APF secretariat.

Date: 12 September 2019

Image credits

  1. Participants at the High Level Dialogue - Timor Leste Provedoria of Human Rights and Justice