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President Horta vetoes the bill on the Responsibility of the President of the Republic

President Horta vetoes the bill on the Responsibility of the President of the Republic

President of Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, José Ramos Horta (Photo Tatoli/Antonio Daciparu)

DILI, 27 june 2022 (TATOLI) – The President of the Republic, José Ramos Horta had vetoed the Decree of the National Parliament No 63/V, of 16 May 2022, Law on the Responsibility of the President of the Republic on the basis that it has been declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal.

“I have just communicated to the National Parliament, in my capacity as President of the Republic, my veto of the Decree of the National Parliament No 63/V, of 16 May 2022, Law on the Responsibility of the President of the Republic on the basis that it has been declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal,” said President Horta, in a statement released on monday.

Horta said that the Decree was, at his request, subject to a preventive review of its constitutionality by the Court of Appeal. The Court declared the proposed law unconstitutional in its decision issued on 24 june 2022 (NUC No. 0061/22.TRDIL).

“Based on its unconstitutionality, I have vetoed the law under the provisions of paragraph of Article 85 (1) (c) and (e) and paragraph 1 of Article 88 (1), (2) and (3) of Article 149 of the Constitution of the Republic,” said Horta in the statement.

“On this occasion, motivated by the duty of conscience of the Head of State, which requires that I share with you, in a public and transparent manner, I address all of you, citizens of Timor-Leste and Members of the National Parliament. I wish to highlight the significance of the decision of the Court that has declared the proposed law unconstitutional. The decision and the reasons of the Court fully justify the exercise of my veto of the Decree of the National Parliament No 63/V, the Law on the Responsibility of the President of the Republic.”

He said the establishment of a criminal liability statute focused only on the President of the Republic, leaving out all other sovereign bodies and holders of political office and high public positions, would be a direct affront to the Constitution, violating the principle of separation of powers, one of the principal cornerstones of the Rule of Law: “The attempt to limit the exercise of discretionary powers by the President is a subversion of the foundations of the semi-presidential system and is a clear violation of the separation of powers provided for in article 69 of the CRDTL.”

Horta stressed that the Court of Appeal confirmed his understanding of the Constitution by stating that “In a semi-presidential regime such as the CRDTL, an interpretation of Article 95 (2)(k) of the CRDTL, which allows the establishment of a law of criminal liability only for the President of the Republic, omitting it for the Parliament and the Government, is not following the Constitution and the principles enshrined therein. No. 63/V of 16 May 2022, which was referred to the President of the Republic for promulgation as the Law on the Responsibility of the President of the Republic, suffers from formal unconstitutionality, which is hereby declared.

In the course of each legislature, the duty of Members of Parliament is not only to pass what it thinks might be a law. Above all the duty they have assumed before the people, includes first and foremost, a responsibility to ensure that the laws that they pass are consistent with our Constitution. They should always have in mind this fundamental objective for which they were elected.

The laws and their approval are inevitably bound by the guidance of Article 69 of the CRDTL, which states that “The organs of sovereignty, in their reciprocal relations and the exercise of their functions, shall observe the principle of separation and interdependence of powers established in the Constitution”.

“For these reasons, I expressed my veto on the grounds of unconstitutionality of the Decree of the National Parliament No 63/V and I have requested the reformulation of this Decree, under the Judgement, pronouncing the unconstitutionality of that same provision, thus complying with the provisions of Article 88(1) and Article 149(3) of the Constitution of the Republic,” said Horta.

Horta appealed to the Members of the National Parliament, as legislators, to respect the parameters constitutionally established by Section 69 CRDTL, whenever they approve laws linked to the other organs of the sovereignty of the State.

 

Journalist: Filomeno Martins 

Editor: Nelia Borges 

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