Looking Forward: Local Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Timor Leste

Paper for Australian Legal Resources International, 2004

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/33

121 Pages Posted: 8 May 2009  

Simon Butt

The University of Sydney Law School

Natalie David

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Nathan Laws

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 7, 2009

Abstract

Timor Leste’s formal legal system is in disarray. Its major legal institutions suffer from serious budgetary, competence and integrity problems. In recent years, countries with similar problems, such as Bangladesh and the Philippines, have allowed the use of local village-level dispute resolution mechanisms instead of the formal state ‘justice’ system for some types of disputes. In these countries, the decision of the village-level forum is usually enforceable through a state court, if voluntary compliance is not forthcoming. This report investigates and analyses various village-level dispute resolution mechanisms being used in Timor Leste and assesses whether it might be appropriate to use them, instead of the state legal system, to formally resolve some types of disputes. Although local dispute resolution might be preferable in some circumstances, this report argues that inherent problems such as gender bias and influence-peddling make local mechanisms inappropriate for many types of disputes, including more serious criminal matters.

Keywords: customary law, Timor Leste (East Timor), criminal law, human rights

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Butt, Simon and David, Natalie and Laws, Nathan, Looking Forward: Local Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Timor Leste (May 7, 2009). Paper for Australian Legal Resources International, 2004; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1401105

Simon Butt (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Natalie David

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Nathan Laws

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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