Head of state
José Manuel Ramos-Horta
Head of government
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
1.2 million
Life expectancy
62.1 years
Under-5 mortality
92/91 per 1,000

Impunity persisted for perpetrators of gross human rights violations committed during Indonesian occupation between 1975 and 1999. The police and military were implicated in alleged ill-treatment and excessive use of force. Despite the enactment of a law against domestic violence, levels of domestic violence remained high.


In February, the mandate of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was extended for another year.

Top of page

Police and security forces

The resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the Timor-Leste National Police Force (Policia Nacional Timor-Leste, PNTL) progressed steadily, and PNTL internal disciplinary mechanisms were strengthened. However, reports continued of human rights violations committed by police and military personnel, including ill-treatment and excessive use of force. There were at least 59 allegations of human rights violations by the national police and 13 by the military.

Top of page

Justice system

Judicial and accountability mechanisms remained weak. Attempts to hold to account those responsible for the violence that erupted in 2006 after one third of the military were dismissed remained slow.

In March, 24 people were convicted of involvement in the February 2008 attacks on the President and Prime Minister. However, in August the President pardoned 23 of them, including ex-insurgent leader Gastão Salsinha. Civil society organizations expressed concern that the pardons called into question the credibility of the justice system.

  • On 26 March, Domingos Noronha (aka Mau Buti), a former Mahidi Militia member, was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment for serious crimes committed in 1999. He was found guilty on three counts of murder.
Top of page

Violence against women and girls

In May, the Law Against Domestic Violence was passed, providing a framework for government, police and community responses to domestic violence. The Law defined domestic violence broadly to include physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence, and provided for a range of services to victims. However, many cases of domestic violence continued to be resolved though traditional justice mechanisms which did not provide full redress to victims. Levels of domestic violence remained high.

Top of page


The Timor-Leste Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice and the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission signed a memorandum of understanding in January on the implementation of recommendations of the joint Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) and of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR). The content of the memorandum was not made public.

In early July, two draft laws establishing a National Reparations Programme and an “Institute for Memory”, mandated to implement recommendations of the CTF and CAVR, were presented for public consultation. Parliament was scheduled to debate the laws in late September; however, the debate was delayed until February 2011.

There was very little progress in addressing past serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, committed in Timor-Leste during Indonesian occupation (1975-1999). President Ramos-Horta rejected calls from national and international NGOs for an international tribunal for past crimes, although he said he would not oppose it should the UN Security Council decide to establish one. The Serious Crimes Investigation Team continued to investigate serious human rights violations committed in 1999.

Top of page

Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

Jump to a Country Report

Country Visits

No information on visits available