On Wednesday, 3rd of February 2021, Justice Action facilitated a meeting between East Timor Consul-General Luciano Valentim Da Conceicao and the President of the Community Justice Coalition and International Commission of Jurists, The Hon John Dowd AO QC.
In the meeting, there were several points that importantly highlighted the agreement to collaborate and support the creation of an NGO focused on prisoners in East Timor.
- To work together to establish an NGO in Timor-Leste dedicated to prisoners’ rights. This will involve collaboration between lawyers and human rights organisations in both Australia and Timor-Leste as well as prisoners themselves. Justice Action can provide guidance in representing the voice of detainees and engaging prisoners in future projects.
- The successful NSW Computers in Cells program highlighted the benefits of tablets in prisons. Given the low education rates and large variety of languages spoken in Timor-Leste, tablets will be an important education and communication tool. With the capacity to improve literacy and numeracy skills and diminish language barriers, tablets will help prisoners reintegrate successfully into wider society. Timor-Leste would appreciate the support from NSW to implement a similar program.
- The project should focus on education, communication and the benefits for wider society rather than it being framed as a human rights issue.
Further collaboration between NGOs, politicians, and lawyers of both countries will take place over the coming months as well as engaging prisoners of East Timor themselves.