East Timor UN Mission says draft constitution has strong human rights provisions

The positive changes include the removal of restrictions on East Timorese with acquired citizenship and the extension of certain legal rights to both citizens and foreigners, according to UNTAET. In another move to strengthen human rights, the draft ensures that ratified international conventions, treaties and agreements will take precedence over national laws. The latest draft of the Constitution also allows police uninvited, night-time entry into private residences if there is a “serious threat to life or physical integrity” – a clause expected to aid victims of domestic violence, which UNTAET called “a major social issue in East Timor.” Previously, uninvited night-time entry was strictly prohibited. The draft also outlaws media monopolies, a revision recommended by the East Timor Journalists’ Association. The newest version, which was approved 9 February by the Constituent Assembly, is currently being translated for public consultation. UNTAET reported today that Assembly members will divide into groups later this month to gather nationwide public feedback on the draft. Any concerns or suggestions will be debated by the full Assembly before a final vote and signing ceremony on 16 March.

The positive changes include the removal of restrictions on East Timorese with acquired citizenship and the extension of certain legal rights to both citizens and foreigners, according to UNTAET. In another move to strengthen human rights, the draft ensures that ratified international conventions, treaties and agreements will take precedence over national laws. The latest draft of the Constitution also allows police uninvited, night-time entry into private residences if there is a “serious threat to life or physical integrity” – a clause expected to aid victims of domestic violence, which UNTAET called “a major social issue in East Timor.” Previously, uninvited night-time entry was strictly prohibited. The draft also outlaws media monopolies, a revision recommended by the East Timor Journalists’ Association. The newest version, which was approved 9 February by the Constituent Assembly, is currently being translated for public consultation. UNTAET reported today that Assembly members will divide into groups later this month to gather nationwide public feedback on the draft. Any concerns or suggestions will be debated by the full Assembly before a final vote and signing ceremony on 16 March.

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