Policy Brief 6 – The Social Impact of Current Administrative Processes for Veterans Payments – August 2014 update

September 3, 2014

This updated policy brief is based on a full research report ai???The Social Impact of Veterans Payments Processesai??i??, published in 2012 by NGO Belun as part of the Early Warning, Early Response (EWER) program, which was generously supported by the European Commission (EC), the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, Conflict Resolution Unit as well as the German Development Corporation (GIZ).

To access the updated policy brief, click here.

The question of how to recognize those who participated in the resistance movement is both sensitive and essential for Timor-Leste. The government must balance multiple priorities, responding to the needs of various groups and their competing demands. Indeed, providing recognition for those who fought for independence must be tempered with the provision of broad-based social assistance to the entire population. In Timor-Leste, the disarmament and demobilization of former resistance members is nearly complete. However, reintegration remains a protracted and ill-defined process. Since 1999, the Timorese government has sought to address this issue and develop various policies in response to the needs of its ai??i??veteransai??i??.[1]

Beginning with the first constitutional government, and through multiple rounds of policy development and revision, Timorese legislators have made considerable progress in attending to the needs of National Liberation Combatants (CLNs), through the elaboration of a channel for social assistance to veterans and providing recognition to those who participated in the armed front. Individuals with more than 15 years of ai???exclusive dedicationai???[2], along with those disabled in the conflict and the families of those who were killed, have been prioritized in the awarding of military decorations and pension payments. The government has also sought to demonstrate its gratitude for individuals who contributed 4-7 and 8-14 years of exclusive dedication, through the bestowing of medals and payments. However, challenges and tensions have emerged in relation to the payment system and the publicai??i??s limited understanding of the social assistance laws.

Furthermore, defining who is a veteran and determining the best means of recognizing their contribution, either through decorations or payments, remain fraught. The pension program has created new divisions amongst community members since some individuals have received considerable amounts of money while others continue to wait for medals and pensions. A significant issue has also arisen around whether those receiving payments are recognized as legitimate beneficiaries by their communities. Such concerns have the potential to create conflicts amongst veterans and within communities.

With these issues in mind, Belun believes that practical and straightforward initiatives can help to ease tensions and better prepare communities and families to respond to disputes arising from veteransai??i?? social assistance payments. Suggestions include improving the comprehension of the veteransai??i?? law, finding creative solutions for distributing veteranai??i??s transfers and offering tools to deal with problems of social jealousy.


[1]In this report, the term ai???veteranai??? is used generally to refer to those who participated in the armed or clandestine fronts of the Timorese resistance movements; it does not refer directly to the legal definition of ai???veteranai??? as established in Article 8 of Law No. 9/2009, 29 July. This broader usage corresponds with the self-identification of most interviewees and focus group discussion participants.

[2]ai???Exclusive dedicationai??? (ai???dedicaAi??A?o com carA?cter exclusivoai???, Law No. 3/2006, 12 April) requires that potential recipients only count those periods of time in which they were exclusively serving the resistance and not engaged in other work or study.