Looking Forward: Local Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Timor Leste
Paper for Australian Legal Resources International, 2004
121 Pages Posted: 8 May 2009
Date Written: May 7, 2009
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: Suggested Citation