EWER Trimester Report 2 (Jun-Sep 2009)

September 11, 2009

EWER Trimester Report 2 (Jun-Sep 2009)


Executive Summary

Incidents of violence have decreased considerably over this reporting period, down from 187 between February and May, to 139 between June and September. The subai???district of Ainaro Vila produced the highest number of incidents, at 34, and was also the site of the only alleged murder among monitored subai???districts over the trimester. This event appears to have been sparked by conflict over resource use (commonly reported around harvests in other rural areas, such as Tutuala and Letefoho). Youth violence remains an issue in Ainaro, and was also reported along with increased martial arts group activity in Bobonaro, Liquica, Aileu and Baucau. Drug or alcohol abuse was consistently reported at all of these sites, and gambling seems to be on the rise as well.

Economic data over the monitoring period suggests little change since the last trimester, with prices for local goods remaining stable and only a slight drop in commercial activity. Job seeking and movement to urban areas in search of work continue to remain a challenge across the country, as in the past period. Whilst the continuing importance of agriculture to many Timorese communities continues to be reflected in a high rate of conflict over access to land and water, other livelihoods opportunities are emerging. Monitors reported a rise in infrastructure projects, and a rise in new businesses both among men and women, some apparently supported through microfinance, even as the benefits of (nonai???Governmental) development assistance appear to be diminishing.

Political divisions increased in advance of the suku level elections, with related tension reported over the period in Liquica, Ermera and Covalima. Interestingly, however, far lower levels of cronyism and bribery were reported, suggesting the attention brought by the electoral process may have produced a higher degree of accountability among local leadership. It may, however, also be the case that citizens are waiting to see if the councils deliver on promises once elected.

Despite some reported confrontations in Metinaro and Same, on the whole, current data shows that community relations with the police and armed forces appear to be slowly improving. The issue of dispute resolution within monitored communities continues to raise questions. Data from the reporting period suggests both that fewer cases are being referred for settlement through adat/custom, and also that the outcomes of such processes are being increasingly contested. This does not necessarily mean that the formal justice system is shouldering more of the dispute resolution burden, and suggests that there is a sense that the more immediate local method is straining to meet demands.

The confusion over how best to address community conflict is seen clearly in respect of sexual violence, which continues to be experienced at high levels. Data indicates that although on occasion sexual assault was referred to police, and slightly less frequently to traditional leaders, in most cases there was no clear intervention sought or imposed. Given that domestic abuse, chiefly against women but also against children, is consistently reported at every monitored location, a coordinated strategy of prevention and response is urgently needed.