Motives for writing constitution, Preamble, Reference to country's history
The independence of East Timor, proclaimed by the Frente Revolucionária of Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) on November 28, 1975, is internationally recognized on May 20, 2002, following the liberation of the Timorese people from the colonization and occupation of the Maubere Motherland by foreign powers.
The elaboration and adoption of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor is the culmination of the secular resistance of the Timorese People intensified following the invasion of December 7, 1975.
The struggle waged against the enemy, initially under the leadership of FRETILIN, gave way to more comprehensive forms of political participation, particularly in the wake of the establishment of the National Council of the Maubere Resistance (CNRT) in 1987 and the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) in 1998.
The Resistance was divided into three fronts.
The armed front was carried out by the glorious Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste (FALINTIL) whose historical undertaking is to be praised.
The action of the clandestine front, astutely unleashed in hostile territory, involved the sacrifice of thousands of lives of women and men, especially the youth, who fought with abnegation for freedom and independence.
The diplomatic front, harmoniously carried out all over the world, enabled the opening of the way for definitive liberation.
In its cultural and humane perspective, the Catholic Church in East Timor has always been able to take on the suffering of all the People with dignity, placing itself on their side in the defense of their most elementary rights.
Ultimately, the present Constitution represents a heart-felt tribute to all martyrs of the Motherland.
Thus, the Members of the Constituent Assembly, as the legitimate representatives of the People, were elected on August 30, 2001.
International organizations, Referenda
Based further on the results of the referendum of August 30, 1999, organized under the auspices of the United Nations, which confirmed the self-determined will for independence;
Fully conscious of the need to build a democratic and institutional culture appropriate for a State based on the rule of law where respect for the Constitution, for the laws and for democratically elected institutions constitute its unquestionable foundation;
God or other deities
Interpreting the profound sentiment, the aspirations and the faith in God of the People of East Timor;
Reference to fraternity/solidarity
Solemnly reaffirm their determination to fight all forms of tyranny, oppression, social, cultural or religious domination and segregation, to defend national independence, to respect and guarantee human rights and the fundamental rights of the citizen, to ensure the principle of the separation of powers in the organization of the State, and to establish the essential rules of multi-party democracy, with a view to building a just and prosperous nation and developing a society of solidarity and fraternity.
Source of constitutional authority
The Constituent Assembly, meeting in plenary session on March 22, 2002, approves and decrees the following Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
PART I. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
Article 1. The Republic
Human dignity, Type of government envisioned
The Democratic Republic of East Timor is a democratic, sovereign, independent and unitary State based on the rule of law, the will of the people and the respect for the dignity of the human person.
- November 28, 1975 is the Day of the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
Article 2. Sovereignty and Constitutionality
- Sovereignty resides in the people, who exercise it in accordance with the Constitution.
- The State is subject to the Constitution and to the laws.
- The validity of the laws and other actions of the State depend upon their compliance with the Constitution.
- The State recognizes customary laws of East Timor, subject to the Constitution and to any legislation dealing specifically with customary law.
Article 3. Citizenship
- There exists in the Republic of East Timor original citizenship and acquired citizenship.
Requirements for birthright citizenship
The following citizens shall be considered original citizens of East Timor, as long as they are born in the national territory:
- children of a father or mother born in East Timor;
- children of incognito parents, stateless parents or parents of unknown nationality;
- children of a foreign father or mother who, being over seventeen years old, declare their will to become East Timorese nationals.
Requirements for birthright citizenship
They will be considered original citizens of East Timor, even if they are born in a foreign territory, as children of a Timorese father or mother.
Requirements for naturalization
Acquisition, loss and reacquisition of citizenship, as well as its registration and proof, shall be regulated by law.
Article 4. Territory
- The territory of the Democratic Republic of East Timor comprises the land surface, the maritime zone and the air demarcated by the national boundaries that historically comprise the eastern part of Timor Island, the enclave of Oecussi Ambeno, the island of Ataúro and the islet of Jaco.
- The law fixes and defines the extent and limits of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone, and the rights of East Timor to the contiguous zone and continental shelf.
- The State cannot alienate any part of the East Timorese territory or the rights of sovereignty over the land, without prejudice to rectification of borders.
Article 5. Decentralization
- The State respects, on matters of territorial organization, the principle of the decentralization of public administration.
- The law determines and establishes and the characteristics of the different territorial levels and the administrative competences of the respective organs.
- Oecussi Ambeno and Ataúro enjoy special administrative and economic treatment.
Article 6. Objectives of the State
The fundamental objectives of the State are:
- to defend and guarantee the sovereignty of the country;
- to guarantee and promote fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens and the respect for the principles of the democratic State based on the rule of law;
- to defend and guarantee political democracy and participation of the people in the resolution of national problems;
Reference to science
to guarantee the development of the economy and the progress of science and technology;
- to promote the building of a society based on social justice, by establishing material and spiritual welfare of the citizens;
Protection of environment
to protect the environment and to preserve natural resources;
- to affirm and value the personality and the cultural heritage of the East Timorese people;
- to promote the establishment and the development of relations of friendship and cooperation among all Peoples and States;
- to promote the harmonious and integrated development of the sectors and regions and the fair distribution of the national product;
- to promote an effective equality of opportunities between women and men.
Article 7. Universal Suffrage and Multi-Party System
Secret ballot, Claim of universal suffrage
The people exercise the political power through universal, free, equal, direct, secret and periodic suffrage and through other forms established in the Constitution.
- The State shall value the contribution of the political parties for the organized expression of the popular will and for the democratic participation of the citizen in the governance of the country.
Article 8. International Relations
Right to self determination
On matters of international relations, the Democratic Republic of East Timor governs itself according to the principles of national independence, the right of the Peoples to self-determination and independence, the protection of human rights, the mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality among States and the non-interference in domestic affairs of other States.
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall establish relations of friendship and cooperation with all other peoples, aiming at the peaceful settlement of conflicts, the general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament, the establishment of a system of collective security and the establishment of a new international economic order capable of ensuring peace and justice in the relations among peoples.
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall maintain privileged ties with the countries whose official language is Portuguese.
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall maintain special ties of friendship and co-operation with the neighboring countries and the countries of the region.
Article 9. Reception of International Law
Customary international law, International law
The legal system of East Timor shall adopt the general or common principles of international law.
Legal status of treaties, Treaty ratification
Norms provided for in international conventions, treaties and agreements shall apply in the internal legal system of East Timor following their approval, ratification or accession by the respective competent organs and after publication in the official gazette.
International law, Legal status of treaties
All norms that are contrary to the provisions of international conventions, treaties and agreements applied in the internal legal system of East Timor are invalid.
Article 10. Solidarity
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall extend its solidarity to the struggle of the peoples for national liberation.
Protection of stateless persons
The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall grant political asylum, in accordance with the law, to foreigners persecuted as a result of their struggle for national and social liberation, defense of human rights, democracy and peace.
Article 11. Valorization of Resistance
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor acknowledges and values the secular resistance of the Maubere People against foreign domination and the contribution of all those who fought for national independence.
- The State acknowledges and values the participation of the Church in the process of the national liberation of East Timor.
- The State shall ensure special protection to war-disabled, orphans and other dependents of those who dedicated their lives to the struggle for independence and national sovereignty, and shall protect all those who participated in the resistance against the foreign occupation, in accordance with the law.
- The law shall define the mechanisms for rendering homage to the national heroes.
Freedom of religion
Article 12. The State and Religious Denominations
- The State recognizes and respects the different religious denominations, that are free in their organization and in the exercise of their own activities, with due observance of the Constitution and the law.
- The State promotes the cooperation with the different religious denominations that contribute to the well-being of the people of East Timor.
Official or national languages
Article 13. Official Languages and National Languages
- Tetum and Portuguese shall be the official languages in the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
Protection of language use
Tetum and the other national languages shall be valued and developed by the State.
Article 14. National Symbols
The national symbols of the Democratic Republic of East Timor shall be the flag, the emblem and the national anthem.
- The emblem and the national anthem shall be approved by law.
Article 15. National Flag
The National Flag is rectangular and is formed by two isosceles triangles, the bases of which are overlapping. One triangle is black and its height is equal to one-third of the length overlapped to the yellow triangle, whose height is equal to half the length of the Flag. In the center of the black triangle there is a white star of five ends, meaning the light that guides. The white star has one of its ends turned towards the upper right end of the flag. The remaining part of the flag is purple-red.
- The colors mean:
- Golden-yellow—the wealth of the country;
Black—the obscurantism that needs to be overcome;
Purple-red—the struggle for national liberation;
PART VI. GUARANTEE AND REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION
TITLE I. GUARANTEE OF THE CONSTITUTION
Article 149. Anticipatory Review (fiscalização preventiva) of Constitutionality
Constitutionality of legislation
The President of the Republic may request the Supreme Court of Justice to undertake an anticipatory review of the constitutionality of any bill submitted to him or her for promulgation.
- The preventive review of the constitutionality may be requested within twenty days from the date on which the bill is received, and the Supreme Court of Justice shall hand down its ruling within twenty-five days, a time limit that may be reduced by the President of the Republic for reasons of urgency.
- If the Supreme Court of Justice rules that the statute is unconstitutional, the President of the Republic shall send a copy of the ruling within twenty-five days, a time limit that may be reduced by the President of the Republic for reasons of urgency.
- The veto for unconstitutionality of a bill from the National Parliament that has been submitted for promulgation can be circumvented under Article 88, with the necessary adaptations.
Constitutionality of legislation
Article 150. Abstract Review of Constitutionality
A declaration of unconstitutionality may be requested by:
- the President of the Republic;
- the President of the National Parliament;
- the Prosecutor-General, based on the refusal by the courts, in three concrete cases, to apply a statute deemed unconstitutional;
- the Prime Minister;
- one-fifth of the Members of the National Parliament;
- the Ombudsman (Provedor).
Article 151. Unconstitutionality by Omission
The President of the Republic, the Prosecutor-General and the Ombudsman may request the Supreme Court of Justice to review the unconstitutionality by omission of any legislative measures deemed necessary for the implementation of the constitutional norms.
Constitutionality of legislation
Article 152. Appeals on Constitutionality
- The Supreme Court of Justice has jurisdiction to hear appeals against any of the following court decisions:
- decisions refusing to apply a legal rule on the grounds of unconstitutionality;
- decisions applying a legal rule the constitutionality of which was challenged during the proceedings.
- An appeal under paragraph (1) (b) above may be brought only by the party who raised the question of unconstitutionality.
- The law regulates the regime for filing appeals.
Article 153. Decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice
The decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice shall not be appealable and shall be published in the official gazette, and have a general binding effect on processes of abstract and concrete monitoring, when dealing with unconstitutionality.
Constitution amendment procedure
TITLE II. CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION
Article 154. Initiative and Time of Revision
- The initiative for constitutional revision is incumbent upon the Members of Parliament and the Parliamentary Groups.
- The National Parliament may revise the Constitution after six years have elapsed since the last date of publication of the last law revising the Constitution was published.
- The period of six years for the first constitutional review is counted from the day the present Constitution enters into force.
- The National Parliament, regardless of any time frame, can take on powers to revise the Constitution by a majority of four-fifths of the Members of Parliament in full exercise of their functions.
- Proposals for revision must be deposited with the National Parliament one hundred and twenty days prior to the date of the commencement of the debate.
- After submission of a proposal for constitutional revision under the terms of number 5 above, any other proposal shall be submitted within thirty days.
Article 155. Approval and Promulgation
- Amendments to the Constitution shall be approved by a majority of two-thirds of the Members of Parliament in full exercise of their functions.
- The new text of the Constitution shall be published together with the revision law.
- The President of the Republic shall not refuse to promulgate a revision law.
Article 156. Limits on Matters of Revision
- Laws revising the Constitution shall respect:
- national independence and unity of the State;
- the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens;
- the republican form of government;
- the separation of powers;
- the independence of the courts;
- the multi-party system and the right of democratic opposition;
- the free, universal, direct, secret and regular suffrage of the office holders of the organs of sovereignty, as well as the system of proportional representation;
- the principle of administrative deconcentration and decentralization;
- the National Flag;
- the date of proclamation of national independence.
- Matters contained in paragraphs c) and i) may be reviewed through a national referendum, in accordance with the law.
Article 157. Limits on Time of Revision
No action may be taken to revise the Constitution during a state of siege or a state of emergency.
PART VII. FINAL AND TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS
Article 158. Treaties, Agreements and Alliances
- Confirmation, accession and ratification of bilateral and multilateral conventions, treaties, agreements or alliances that took place before the entry into force of the present Constitution shall be decided upon on a case-by-case basis by the respective competent organs.
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall not be bound by any treaty, agreement or alliance entered into prior to the entry into force of the Constitution which is not confirmed or ratified or has not been adhered to, pursuant to number 1 above.
- The Democratic Republic of East Timor shall not recognize any acts or contracts concerning the natural resources, referred to in number 1 of Article 139 entered into or undertaken prior to the entry into force of the Constitution which are not confirmed by the competent organs after the Constitution enters into force.
Official or national languages
Article 159. Working Languages
The Indonesian and the English languages shall be working languages within the public administration side by side with official languages as long as it is deemed necessary.
Article 160. Serious Crimes
Acts committed between the 25th of April 1974 and the 31st of December 1999 that can be considered crimes against humanity of genocide or of war shall be liable to criminal proceedings in the national or international courts.
Article 161. Illegal Appropriation of Assets
Illegal appropriation of mobile and fixed assets that took place before the entry into force of the present Constitution is considered crime and shall be resolved as provided for in the Constitution and the law.
Truth and reconciliation commission
Article 162. Reconciliation
- It is incumbent upon the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to discharge functions conferred to it by UNTAET Regulation No. 2001/10.
- The competences, mandate and the objectives of the Commission may be redefined by the Parliament whenever necessary.
Crimes of the previous regime
Article 163. Transitional Judicial Organization
- The collective judicial instance existing in East Timor, integrated by national and international judges with competences to judge serious crimes committed between the 1st of January and the 25th of October 1999, shall remain in effect for the time deemed strictly necessary to conclude the cases under investigation.
- The judicial Organization existing in East Timor on the day the present Constitution enters into force shall remain in effect until such a time as the new judicial system is established and starts its functions.
Article 164. Transitional Competence of the Supreme Court of Justice
- After the Supreme Court of Justice starts its functions and before the establishment of courts as referred to in Article 129, the respective competence shall be exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice and other courts of justice.
- Until such a time as the Supreme Court of Justice is established and starts its functions all powers conferred to it by the Constitution shall be exercised by the highest judicial instance of the judicial organization existing in East Timor.
Article 165. Previous Law
Laws and regulations in force in East Timor shall continue to be applicable to all maters except to the extent that they are inconsistent with the Constitution or the principles contained therein.
Article 166. National Anthem
Until the national anthem is approved by the ordinary law pursuant to number 2 of Article 14 "Pátria, Pátria, Timor -Leste a nossa nação" shall be sung in official ceremonies.
Article 167. Transformation of the Constitutional Assembly
- The Constitutional Assembly shall be transformed into a National Parliament upon the approval of the Constitution of the Republic.
- The National Parliament, in its first term of office, shall be exceptionally comprised of eighty-eight deputies.
- The President of the Constituent Assembly shall remain in office until the National Parliament elects its President in conformity with the Constitution.
Article 168. The Transitional Government
The Government appointed under UNTAET Regulation No. 2001/28 shall remain in office until the first Constitutional Government is appointed and sworn in by the President of the Republic, in conformity with the Constitution.
Article 169. Presidential Election of 2002
The President elected under UNTAET Regulation No. 2002/01 shall take on the competences and fulfill the mandate provided for in the Constitution.
Article 170. Entry into Force of the Constitution
The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor shall enter into force on the 20th of May of 2002.