Timor Leste: media worker sued over report alleging ministry corruptionEvent
- Timor Leste
- Initial Date
- May 18, 2022
- Event Description
A parliament minister has brought defamation charges under Timor Leste’s Penal Code against journalist Francisco Belo Simões da Costa, following coverage of an allegation of ministerial corruption. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Timor-Leste Press Union (TLPU), in calling for the immediate withdrawal of the case against the journalist.
Timor Leste’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Social Communication, Francisco Martins da Costa Pereira Jerónimo, filed a claim against Francisco Belo, the editor-in-chief of local news portal Hatutan.com, over a report regarding allegations of corruption in a ‘set-top-box installation’ project.
Minister Francisco Jeronimo replied to the article, stating the news report about his project was not valid, and his response was republished by Hatutan.com. The minister is responsible for drafting legislation to develop public and private media in Timor Leste.
Following the coverage, Minister Jerónimo brought charges against Francisco Belo, who received a summons from the Dili district prosecutor’s office for defamation under Article 285 of Timor-Leste’s Penal Code.
Francisco Belo gave a statement to the prosecutor’s office on May 23, meeting with officers for approximately thirty minutes. If found guilty under Article 285, the journalist faces up to three years in prison or a fine.
In 2017, two Timor Leste journalists, Oki Raimundos and Lourenco Martins, also faced jail for defamation for their articles about Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo in 2015, but the charges were overturned by the Dili District Court on June 1, 2017.
The TLPU stated that it had verified that Hatutan.com's report about the installation project followed all media laws and the journalistic code of ethics. "We urge Minister Francisco Jeronimo to resolve this case through mediation from the Press Council because journalism is not a crime," TLPU said.
23 MAY 2022 by RAIMUNDOS OKI in JUSTISA Created: 23 May 2022Hits: 1481 Ghost articles return to haunt journalists in Timor-Leste
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DILI (TOP) – Freedom of the press is protected by article 41 of the Timor-Leste’s Constitution, but there is still one ghost article in the Criminal Code (2009), namely article 285 on Defamatory false information.
The ghost article has been used by politicians and law enforcement in Timor-Leste to strike back at their opponents, especially journalists who often write stories about corruption cases in both private and public institutions.
Article 285 is a giant ghost that not only haunts journalists but will also haunt critics in this country one day.
Leaders and politicians in Timor-Leste have been pleased with the annual world press freedom index of 71st out of 180 countries in 2021 and 17th in 2022 ahead of Australia, but the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Social Communication Francisco Martins da Costa Pereira Jerónimo has sued the editor-in-chief of the online media www.hatutan.com Francisco Belo Simões da Costa after publishing a corruption case allegedly involving the minister Francisco Jerónimo.
According to information accessed by The Oe-Kusi Post (TOP), installation project Set-top Box Set-top Box/dexodificador RTTL,E.P with a budget of $900,0000.00, allegedly involve Minister Francisco Jerónimo who is also the President of the Federação Futebol de Timor-Leste (F -FTL) entered into a contract with a local company DILI ETERNAL INNOVATION INFORMATION, Lda as a Joint Venture of Melánia da Silva Fernandes Capela was a secretary in the F-FTL cabinet, but according to his right of reply to Hatutan.com that the news reports about this project is not true.
As a result, Minister Francisco Jerónimo finally sued the editor-in-chief of Hatutan.com who is also a member of the Timor-Leste press council to the Dili District Prosecutor Office.
“I have gone to give a statement at the Dili prosecutor's office on a report from the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Social Communication Francisco Martins da Costa Pereira Jerónimo regarding Defamatory false information in article 285 of the Timor-Leste's penal code,” Francisco Belo Simões da Costa told
According to a news report from the online media Hatutan.com that their chief editor gave a statement at the Dili prosecutor's office on Monday 23 May 2022 from 9 to 9:30 am Timor-Leste time.
Journalist Francisco Belo received a summons from the Dili prosecutor's office on 18 May 2022 with the case number NUC 0078/22/PCCIC as a suspect.
The online media Hatutan.com explained that their editor-in-chief had been sued by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Social Communication Francisco Martins da Costa Pereira Jerónimo for the publication of news about the Set-top Box/dexodificador installation project Rádiu Televizaun Timor Leste, Empreza Públika (RTTL, E.P).
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom of expression
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 18 May 2022, Francisco Belo Simões da Costa, media worker, was sued on alleged defamation charges by the prosecutor for bringing a alleged case of ministerial corruption in Dili, Timor Leste.