Dili, 1 May 2002


In celebration of May Day, UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello signed into force today a Labour Code that ensures international standards of worker protection are recognised in independent East Timor.

“It’s an appropriate time to remind ourselves as to why any society requires legislation regulating the rights of workers and employers,” Vieira de Mello, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in East Timor, said at a signing ceremony attended by Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri, Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Arlindo Marçal and Secretary of State for Labour Arsénio Bano.

“The Labour Code will put in place a labour administration system that is democratic, transparent and participatory. It ensures that workers, employers, and NGOs have the opportunity to participate in both formulating and implementing labour policies and programmes,” he added.

The result of a two-year extensive consultation process with workers, employers, NGOs and the International Labour Organisation, the Labour Code includes the following key features:

“The Labour Code had undergone a legislative process characterised by consensus building and compromises,” Vieira de Mello said. “It is … a comprehensive Code that complies with international standards and I sincerely hope that it will provide a sound basis for regulating the rights and interests of workers and employers in this country for the coming years.”


Deputy SRSG Dennis McNamara today praised the Bangladeshi Engineer Battalion for its contribution to East Timor at a ceremony marking the battalion’s handover of command to the newly arrived Japanese Engineer Group.

“Over the past two years and more, the Bangladeshi Engineer Battalion truly left its mark throughout the entire country through the excellence of its work and the professionalism of its engineers,” McNamara said at the ceremony held on the outskirts of Dili.

“Returning refugees, presidential ballots, children walking to school, and goods for the market all travel on roads rebuilt by the Bangladeshi Battalion,” the deputy SRSG added.

The ceremony – also attended by East Timor’s Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta, East Timor Defence Force Commander Taur Matan Ruak and the Bangladeshi and Japanese Contingent Commanders – featured formal military parades and the handover of the UN flag from the Bangladeshi to the Japanese contingent.

The 680-strong Japanese Engineering Group began arriving in East Timor in late March and has now finished unloading its 300 vehicles – including bucket loaders, dump trucks and bulldozers – at their district compounds in Dili, Suai, Maliana, and Oecussi.


Films of East Timor’s struggle for independence that were previously banned in the territory will highlight a 10-18 May film festival, organisers of the territory’s Independence Celebrations said today.

The East Timor Human Rights Documentary Film Festival will screen more than 45 films in Dili and the territory’s 12 other districts to an expected total audience of 120,000 people.

Highlights of the festival include the most recent documentary yet made on East Timor’s transition to statehood – “East Timor; Birth of a Nation,” which is still in the final stages of production. Audiences will also be treated to some of the first images ever filmed in the former Portuguese colony in the 1920 film “Prospecting for Oil in Portuguese Timor.” And the World War II-era “Guerrillas of Timor.”

“My country has a courageous tradition of resistance. It has inspired an equally brave tradition of news reporting and documentary filmmaking,” Senior Minister of Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta said today. “This film festival will showcase for the people of East Timor and dignitaries and leaders from around the world the best of that footage.”

The film festival is being coordinated by the media NGO Internews as part of the month-long Independence Celebrations that climax with a midnight declaration of independence during a 19-20 May ceremony to be attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and delegations from more than 50 nations.