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Timor-Leste Prosecutor-General and ADB Launch Groundbreaking Handbook to Combat Gender-Based Violence

Official
Official launch of the Handbook on Investigation of Gender-Based Violence Offenses for the Timor-Leste Public Prosecution Service

In a major step forward for the country, Timor-Leste’s Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) unveiled the Handbook on Investigation of Gender-Based Violence Offenses for the Timor-Leste Public Prosecution Service (English | Tetum) on 31 May 2024.

The handbook aims to strengthen the prosecution of gender-based violence (GBV) offenses by helping prosecutors, justice officials, law enforcement agents, and other stakeholders to investigate GBV and gather evidence, all while respecting the dignity of the victim and local cultural norms. The handbook contains best practices and tools—22 template forms, checklists, and standardized procedures—drafted by the OPG and ADB through a series of collaborative processes. These include a multisectoral working group under the OPG, led by Dr. Jacinto Babo Soares, Deputy Prosecutor General; and extensive in-country consultations by the ADB team, headed by Robyn Layton, lead consultant and former Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia.

GBV Launch - TL 2024
Prosecutor General Dr. Alfonso Lopez delivers his keynote address.

In his foreword to the handbook, Prosecutor General Alfonso Lopez, said, “The handbook is designed to be comprehensive, simply expressed, accessible, and user-friendly, so that it can be used by individuals without a law degree or legal training. It can be utilized by GBV victims, civil society organizations, lawyers, and judges, and can also be used to train all actors involved in the investigation of GBV.” Accordingly, the handbook is available in Tetum, as well as English. ADB plans to create additional Tetum-language resources, including infographics, to enhance the handbook’s accessibility and impact.

Maria Cecilia T. Sicangco, Counsel and Co-Team Leader of the Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems technical assistance project, and Justice Robyn Layton, lead ADB consultant, present the Handbook to the President of Timor-Leste, His Excellency José Ramos-Horta.
Maria Cecilia T. Sicangco, Counsel and Co-Team Leader of the Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems technical assistance project, and Justice Robyn Layton, lead ADB consultant, present the Handbook to the President of Timor-Leste, His Excellency José Ramos-Horta.

 The handbook was launched in a high-profile event attended by distinguished guests (including Minister of Justice Sergio Hornai, Court of Appeal Counselor-Judge Jacinta Correia da Costa, Public Defender General Cáncio Xavier, Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion Elvina de Sousa Carvalho, and Vice President of the National Parliament F Commission on Health, Social Security and Gender Equality Luis Ximenes Caldeira), other high-level government officials, and heads of development partners, and nongovernmental and civil-society organizations. Prosecutor General Lopez delivered the keynote speech. The ADB team presented the handbook to the President of Timor-Leste, His Excellency José Ramos-Horta, on a separate occasion.

 

ADB Country Director Stefania Dina hailed the handbook as a "game-changer" in ensuring justice for GBV victims/survivors. She emphasized that this was part of ADB’s Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems program which supports Timor-Leste’s GBV response through training for legal professionals and other technical assistance.

GBV Launch - TL 2024
ADB Timor-Leste Country Director Stefania Dina delivers her remarks at the Handbook's official launch.

 

View the photos of the event here