PM welcomes new judges, prosecutors and public defenders

18 May 2011

imageJudge Freitas swears her oath of office, with Prosecutor General, Ana Pessoa and Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão looking on. Photo: Justice System Programme/UNDP TL

The ranks of Timor-Leste’s justice sector professionals swelled this month, with the appointment of 14 new judges, prosecutors and public defenders. Eleven of the new appointees – four judges, two prosecutors and five public defenders – took their oaths of office during a ceremony at the Legal Training Centre (LTC) on May 16.

In his speech at the ceremony, Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão told the new appointees that their swearing-in was an occasion for the whole country to celebrate.

“We all remember the condition of the justice sector after the [1999] referendum and the independence process. In those years, Timor-Leste presented a challenge to the world: how to build a justice system from scratch ... If this seemed difficult to the international community, it looked overwhelming for us Timorese,” Prime Minister Gusmão said.

The Prime Minister said a decade on, Timor-Leste now has a system which trains legal professionals “who are not only technically competent but who also have the dedication, sense of duty and professionalism required for performing their tasks”.

Justice Minister Lucia Lobato, Chief Justice Claudio Ximenes, Prosecutor General Ana Pessoa, Public Defender General Sergio Hornai and LTC Director Marcelina Tilman also addressed the new appointees.

All the new appointees have completed a three-month probationary phase and a two-and-a-half-year course at the LTC. UNDP has supported the LTC since 2003.

UNDP Timor-Leste Country Director, Mikiko Tanaka said: “It is truly gratifying to see the fruits of nearly three years of hard work on the part of the new judges, prosecutors and public defenders, and all those who assisted them in their professional training at the LTC and justice institutions.

“Their real contribution to justice in Timor-Leste starts now and UNDP will continue to support their efforts,” Ms Tanaka said.