21 January 2011
Parliament approves budget to fight domestic violence
FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira welcomed the bipartisan commitment from the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao for a motion tabled by him, his fellow FRETILIN MP Josefa Pereira Soares, and National Unity Party MP Domingos Mesquita, to provide an adequate operational budget for the Vulnerable Persons Units of the Timor-Leste National Police.
The VPU investigates and prepares prosecution briefs in relation to sexual assault and child abuse cases pursuant to the criminal code, as well as domestic violence pursuant to the Domestic Violence Law approved by the national Parliament last year. The Domestic Violence Law made domestic violence a “public crime” whereby the prosecutorial authorities have a legal obligation to prosecute cases whether or not the victim
wishes to proceed.
The amendment approved by the national parliament to the 2011 national budget today increased the overall budget for the VPU by US$1 million, consisting of US$600,000 for acquisition of vitally needed motor vehicles and US$400,00 operational costs for the VPU.
“The VPU is grossly under equipped to do its current work, little lone begin its work enforcing this new domestic violence law. We acknowledge that the de facto Prime Minister’s support for improving the capacity of the VPU, but do not understand why an adequate budget had not been approved by the Council of Ministers in the first place, obviating our having to do it ourselves. However, we are nonetheless thankful for the support and flexibility from the de facto Prime Minister in consenting to this amendment, thus resulting in its approval, otherwise, I am certain the PM’s MP’s would have blocked it. We are grateful to him for this display of bipartisanship on this issue of great importance to us all. It is very welcome to know we can agree on issues that are beyond and above party politics.
“We also welcome his input during the debate in the parliament that the budget should be allocated to his office as minister for defence and security, to ensure these resources in fact make it to the VPU and its work. We accept that by placing this budget allocation in his office, the vehicles and other financial resources will not be diverted for use by senior ranking police officers as their personally designated vehicles including for private use, but for investigation and preparation of these sexual assault and domestic violence cases as intended. We urge the de facto Prime Minister to keep a tight reign and watch on the use of these funds. We certainly will do that from parliament,” Teixeira told journalists.
Teixeira also said that other proposals were also passed by the parliament today providing funding for office and other equipment to enable the unit to perform its functions adequately, although he acknowledged this was only a start and much was still left to be done before resources and outcomes could be described as adequate in this area of policing and law enforcement.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT JOSE TEIXEIRA ON +670 728 7080