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President Vetoes Three Land Laws
Prezidente Veto Lei Rai Tolu

26 March 2012

For more on land issues see our other web pages:

Update on the Land Law packet process (Tetum) (10/2017)

Who will get land under the draft transitional Land Law? – Provides information on who will get land under the Land Law, major changes since the first draft, and issues of concern.

Transitional Land Law (also Tetum) – Includes various drafts of the law in three languages, submissions and information on the public consultation process.

Land CompensationExplains compensation processes under the draft Land Law and Expropriation Law. Also outlines La’o Hamutuk’s concerns with the draft Real Estate Finance Fund law. 

When is it fair for the State to take private Land? – Analysis on the draft Expropriation Law which allows the State to take land for public purposes and private companies, with few limitations.

RDTL Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030Threatening Land Rights section explores the government’s plans to claim over 22,000 hectares of land, which many people depend on for daily needs.

La'o Hamutuk Bulletin February 2010 (also Tetum) – Articles on Land Justice in Timor-Leste, Transitional Land Law, and Public Consultation on the Land Law.

Land Processes in Timor-Leste (also Tetum) – An overview of land-related processes currently taking place. This includes documents, commentary and analysis from various sources.

Can distributing Effective Registration Certificates resolve the land problem?, December 2011

Invitation to political party debate on land rights (June 2012) (Tetum)

Ba informasaun tan kona-ba asuntu rai bele asesu ami-nia pajina web:

Atualizasaun prosesu pakote Lei ba Rai iha Timor-Leste (10/2017)

Sé mak sei hetan rai liu husi esbosu Lei ba Rai tranzitoriú? (Ingles) – Fó informasaun kona-ba sé mak atu hetan rai liu husi Lei ba Rai, mudansa importante desde esbosu lei uluk sai, no problema sira.

Lei ba Rai Tranzitoriú (mos Ingles) – Inklui esbosu lei diferente iha lian tolu, submisaun sira no informasaun kona-ba prosesu konsultasaun publiku.

Planu Estratejiku Dezenvolvimentu RDTL 2011-2030 (mos Ingles) – Seksaun Ameasa Direitu ba Rai esplora governu nia planu atu foti rai liu hektare 22,000, rai ne’ebé ema barak uja ba sira nia nesesidade sira lor-loron.

Buletin La’o Hamutuk Fevereiru 2010 (mos Ingles) – Ho artigu Justisa Rai iha Timor-Leste, Lei ba Rai Tranzitoriú no Konsultasaun Publiku kona-ba Lei ba Rai.

Prosesu Kona-ba Rai iha Timor-Leste (mos Ingles) – Ne’e fo sumariu ba prosesu ne’ebe liga ho rai ne’ebé akontese agora dadaun. Inklui dokumentu-sira, komentariu no analize husi parte diferente.

Surat Popular Esbosu Lei ba Rai, Outubru 2010 

Sumisaun LH nian ba Parlamentu kona-ba esboso Lei ba Rai no Lei Expropriasaun, Setembru 2011

Fahe Sertifikadu Efeitu Registu Bele Resolve Problema Rai?, Dezembru 2011

Konvite ba debate partidu politiku sira:  "Oinsá Maneja Rai Hodi Garante Povu Ki’ik no Kiak Nia Direitu Atu Responde ba Dezenvolvimentu Iha Timor-Leste," Junu 2012

Submisaun husi Rede ba Rai kona-ba Pakotu Lei ba Rai Tolu, Fevereiru 2013

In March 2010, the Council of Ministers approved three laws about land: the Land Law, the Real Estate Financing Fund and the Expropriation Law. Due to their problematic and polarizing nature, the draft laws were considered and discussed by Parliament for nearly two years.  In September 2011, La'o Hamutuk made submissions to Parliament Committee A about the Land Law (Tetum) and the Expropriations Law (Tetum).  The Ministry of Justice became impatient with the long legislative process, and the Council of Ministers enacted controversial Decree-Law No. 27/2011, the Regime for Regularization of Ownership of Immovable Property in Undisputed Cases (also Tetum or Portuguese) to serve in the interim for undisputed land.Iha Marsu 2010, Konsellu Ministru aprova lei tolu kona ba rai: esbosu Lei ba Rai, Lei Fundu Imobiliariu no Lei Expropriasaun.  Babain lei hirak ne’e sai polarizasaun no polemika, tamba ne’e PN foin konsidera no debate hafoin besik tinan rua. Iha Setembru 2011 La’o Hamutuk halo submisaun ba Komisaun A kona ba Lei ba Rai no Lei Expropriasaun. Ministeriu Justisa la-iha pasiensia ho prosesu legislativu mak lori tempu kleur, tamba ne’e promulga fali Dekretu Lei No. 27/2011, Rejime atu Regula Na'in ba Bens Imoveis Laiha Disputa (iha mos Ingles no Portugues) atu resolve temporariamente rai laiha disputa.
Parliament finished their debate and passed the three laws on 8 and 13 February 2012. Members of civil society and others held up red cards to vote no from the gallery (click on photo at right to see it larger).  The three laws were sent to the President (Portuguese):

The Constitution gives the President 30 days after he receives proposed laws from Parliament to decide whether to promulgate or veto. On 20 March, President Jose Ramos-Horta sent the three laws back to Parliament, explaining that he would not sign them without a number of changes.  His three veto letters (in Portuguese) follow:

Debate iha Parlamentu Nasional remata, no sira aprova tiha ona lei tolu iha loron 8 no 13 Fevereiru 2012. Membru sosiedade sivil nomos sira seluk foti kartaun mean la'os husi balkaun (klik iha foto nia sorin los atu hare bot). 

Lei tolu ne’ebe haruka ba Prezidente Republika (Portugese):

Konstituisaun fo loron 30 ba Prezidente hafoin nia simu lei proposta husi Parlamentu atu deside se atu promulga ka veto. Iha 20 Marsu 2012, Prezidente Jose Ramos-Horta haruka fali lei tolu ba Parlamentu, explika katak nia la asina se wainhira la iha mudansa balun. Ninia karta tolu ba veto nian (iha Portugues) tuir mai:

La'o Hamutuk has made a rough, unofficial translation of the veto letters into English.  The President raised the following principal concerns, among others:

Land law:

  • Lack of consensus in civil society

  • Too much discretion and power given to the state to claim land

  • Weak definition of what land can be taken by the state in the "public interest"

  • Unclear system for compensation of holders of prior rights who don't get titles, including foreigners

  • Unclear whether the Church can own land

  • Potential conflict of interest by including the Land and Property Directorate in the Cadastral Commission

  • Inappropriate cutoff date for prior adverse possession

  • Unclear definition and protection for community property rights

Expropriations Law:

  • No definition of the "public interest"

  • Open to abuse of expropriation powers to serve private interests

  • Expropriation should only be used in exceptional cases

  • Unclear if State can lease or sell expropriated land

Real Estate Fund:

  • Establishes an unnecessary bureaucracy and mechanism with no clear need

  • Money comes from the State Budget, and so shouldn't get special handling

  • Possible conflict of interest in Board of Directors including outside persons

Parliament put reconsideration of the land laws on their agenda several times during the first week of May, but were unable to achieve a quorum, with many Members refusing to attend the Plenary meetings. On 2 May, the Land Rights Network wrote a letter (Tetum) to the Members urging them to wait until after the new Parliament is elected to discuss the issue.

With elections coming up on 7 July, it seems unlikely that these laws will be passed before a new Parliament and Government take office in the second half of 2012.

La'o Hamutuk halo tradusaun (secara kasar), laos ofisial husi karta veto ne’e ba iha Inglesh. Prezidente foti preokupasaun principal balun, hamutuk ho sira seluk:

Lei ba Rai:

  • La iha konsensu iha sosiedade sivil

  • Fo diskrisaun no poder boot liu ba Estado atu deklara ba rai

  • Definisaun fraku ba rai saida mak sei foti husi Estadu ba iha “interese publiku”

  • La klaru ba sistema kompensasaun ba nain uluk ne’ebe la iha titulu, inklue estrangeiru.

  • La klaru ba Igreja bele sai nain ba rai

  • Konflitu interese ba rai tanba inklue DNTP iha Komisaun Kadastral

  • La apropriadu ba hakotu data posse (ususkapiaun)

  • La klaru ba definisaun no protesaun ba direitu komunidade nian ba propriedade

Lei Expropriasaun:

  • La iha definisaun ba "interese publiku"

  • Fo dalan ba abusu poder halo expropriasaun hodi serve interese privadu

  • Bele halo expropriasaun wainhira iha kazus exepsional deit

  • La klaru wainhira Estadu bele fo aluga ka faan rai mak expropria ona

Fundu Finanseiru Imobiliariu:

  • La presiza estabelese birokrasia no mekanismu foun ne'ebe la klaru ba nesidade

  • Osan mai husi Orsamentu do Estadu, no la presiza iha tratamentu ida espesifiku

  • Posibilidade konflitu ba interese iha Konsellu Diretora inklue mos ema husi liur.

Iha loron 2 fulan Maiu, Rede ba Rai hakerek karta ba Deputado sira iha Parlamentu Nasional atu husu sira "hein too forma Governu foun iha fulan Setembery 2012 hodi dezenvolve Lei ba Rai liu husi konsesu ema Timor-oan tomak nian"

Iha eleisaun ne'ebe sei mai, hare katak lei sira sei la pasa wainhira too Parlamentu no Governu foun sei ukun iha segundu semester 2012.

The laws were revised, debated and eventually promulgated in 2017. See here for details.

Lei ba Rai tolu hetan revizaun, debate tan, no ikus liu aprovasaun no promulgasaun iha tinan 2017.  Liga iha ne'e atu hetan detallu.


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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