COUNTRYAAH, East Timor was recognized during the year for progress in
the work against corruption and for strengthened legal
security. For the time being, the country was given an
official with overall responsibility for the fight against
corruption. The opposition has earlier accused the
government of stopping investigations of irregularities
within the state leadership.
By the middle of the year, five trials against those
involved in the 2008 attempted murder of the Prime Minister
and the President had ended. Two more trials were ongoing.
In the most extensive judicial process, 23 people, most of
them deserted by the army or police, were sentenced to
prison for up to 16 years. The case was judged as the most
important test to date on the capacity of the judiciary.
However, the UN Security Council and key donors criticized
the President for having too often pardoned convicted
deserters and allowing them to return to service within the
Relations with the important neighbor Australia were
noted on several occasions. In June, East Timor President
Jos谷 Ramos-Horta was able to inaugurate a new embassy in
Canberra. The embassy was a gift from the Australian people,
funded through a public fundraiser. While thanking the
embassy, the president expressed his concern that an
Australian energy consortium would like to test untested and
potentially risky technologies in developing a gas field off
East Timor's south coast.
An Australian proposal to build a large internment camp
for refugees in East Timor was also met with skepticism.
Parliament said no, but in the autumn the government
negotiated with Australia on the terms of the project. East
Timor just wanted to consider temporarily helping Australia
deal with its many asylum seekers, while the neighboring
country sought a long-term solution.