Background Reports on East Timor Available
In preparation for the upcoming presidential election in East Timor, Freedom House is providing background information on the state of political rights and civil liberties in the country.
East Timor’s April 9 presidential election will be its first since independence from Indonesia in 1999. While the directly elected president is a largely symbolic figure, current President Gusmao played a central part in running the country following his assumption of emergency powers in May 2006, and the next president could also play a key role in the country’s future.
East Timor ranks as Partly Free in the 2007 edition of Freedom House’s annual survey, Freedom in the World. The country received a 3 (on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the lowest) for political rights, and a 4 for civil liberties. The civil liberties rating declined from 3 to 4 this year due to the extent to which violence exhibited by rioters and security forces threatened press freedom and the livelihoods of residents in the capital. Additionally, there were significant setbacks in the rule of law, including police complicity in the May violence and an enduring culture of impunity for abuse on the part of security forces.
East Timor is an electoral democracy. However, the country descended into crisis in 2006 with the outbreak of widespread rioting and violent clashes, leading to a significant decline in freedom of the press and association. Neither the police nor the military is perceived to have the trust of the population or the capacity to provide adequate security and order. The degree to which those found responsible for this year’s violence are held accountable for their actions will help determine whether the country’s culture of impunity is reversed or further entrenched.
For more information about East Timor, visit:
Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in East Timor since 2000.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.