Realising Rights in Timor-Leste
Asian Studies Review, 2015, Vol. 39, No. 2, 266–283
35 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019 Last revised: 5 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 29, 2019
Timor-Leste is a nascent democratic country with a rights-rich Constitution. After more than a decade it is unclear whether vulnerable sections of Timorese society can access the courts to ensure the realisation and protection of their constitutional rights. This paper examines the design and practice of Timor-Leste’s Constitution and its new legal system in light of the Epp-Wilson debate regarding the necessary conditions for access to justiciable constitutional rights. It draws on Timor-Leste’s experience to argue that while Wilson’s focus on institutional design is compelling, it does not dispel the need for a strong civil society along the lines argued by Epp. The realisation of constitutional rights requires the mobilisation of civil society and a receptive Timorese judiciary.
Keywords: Timor-Leste, human rights, constitution, access to justice, civil society, women’s rights, legal system, judicial review
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation