Presidential Palace Nicolau Lobato, March 7, 2018 – The President of the Republic and current Minister of State and Adviser for National Security José Ramos-Horta met the President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lú Olo, to whom he expressed his concerns regarding the pardon of prisoners, constitutionally referred to as indultos.
Jose Ramos-Horta said that on special occasions, such as Restoration Day, May 20, and Independence Day, November 28, it os costumary the pardon of prisoners by the Head of State, after receiving from the Minstry of Justice a proposal of a list of prisioners to be pardoned. The pardons known as indultos may apply to a part of the prisoners’ terms only.
José Ramos-Horta stressed that pardoning is not only a constitucional competence granted to the President, but also a constitutional obligation to provide opportunities for rehabilitation of prisoners. The President of the Republic is the one who evaluates individual cases of prisoners, as doing justice is not just looking to the facts by the courts, but is also seeing the circumstances in which the cases happened. Nonetheless courts’ decisions are respected by all and that is why there are people imprisoned in Becora, Gleno and Suai.
The identification of prisoners to be pardoned will be carried out by the Ministry of Justice and after that a list will be presented to the Head of State, but although the Government presents the list, the President also has the right to pardon some element that is not on the government’s list as the President can have the initiative himself, Horta said.
According to the Minister of State and Counselor for National Security, the President of the Republic agrees and will appreciate cases of pardon one by one, will evaluate the way to reduce the weight of the prisoners’ sentences, to better complete the justice process.
Ramos-Horta praised the personality of the President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lú Olo as being a strict person as President and as a jurist, but also a person with a heart.
Prisioners to be pardoned must have good behaviour during the years in prison and there must be humanitarian considerations to justify the pardon. During José Ramos-Horta’s term as President of the Republic, in the five years between 2007 and 2012, more than a hundred prisoners were pardoned and during Taur Matan Ruak’s term as President of the Republic, from 2012 to 2017, five prisoners were pardoned, recalled José Ramos-Horta.