The HAK Association

HAK Association (Hukum – Law, Hak Asasi – Basic Rights, and Keadilan – Justice) is a non-government organization in Timor Leste that works to realize a Timorese society that is self-sufficient, open, and democratic in a social order based on popular sovereignty. This organization began as a legal aid office founded on 20 August 1996 by a number of East Timor activists during the Indonesian occupation to give legal aid to political detainees who struggled for independence. On 23 March 1997 this office became the Law, Basic Rights, and Justice Foundation (HAK) and in November 2002 changed again to become HAK Association.

During the occupation, this organization sought to open the eyes of the international community regarding human rights abuses perpetrated by those in power during the Indonesian occupation. When East Timor regained its independence, this organization worked to realize social and national life that guarantees respect and fulfills the human rights of all people.

HAK Association works at three levels, namely national policy formation, enforcement of human rights, and people’s empowerment.

Basic Values
HAK Association work is based on basic values:
– humanity
– equality
– justice on behalf of the people
– democracy based on solidarity, participation, freedom, and responsibility

The organizational change from foundation to association was accompanied by a change in structure. The highest level of decision-making is in the hands of members through a Members’ General Meeting held once every four years and a Members’ Annual Meeting. The General Meeting formulates the guidelines for HAK’s programs and receives the reports of both the Executive Board and the Members’ Representative Council. At the Members’ Annual Meeting, annual activities are reviewed and new members are approved.

There are two governing bodies under the General Meeting, the Members’ Representative Council and the Executive Board. The Representative Council supervises the implementation of the Program Guidelines by the Executive Board. The Council is comprised of nine members:

  1. Pendeta Francisco Vasconcelos (Moderator of the Timor Leste Christian Church);
  2. Aniceto Guterres Lopes (lawyer, HAK founder, Moderator of the National Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation);
  3. Abdullah Hadi Sagran (Manager for Center of the Islamic Community of Timor Leste);
  4. Arlindo Marçal (Timor Leste Ambassador to Indonesia);
  5. Adaljiza Magno (member of National Parliament);
  6. Jacinta Correia (Supreme Court Judge);
  7. John Campbell-Nelson (professor, once active in solidarity movement for Timor Leste independence);
  8. Kerry Brogan (human rights activist, worked many years for Amnesty International);
  9. Remezia de Fátima (Prosecuting Attorney).

The Executive Board has responsibility to implement activities and policies as formulated in the Program Guidelines. The Board is led by a Director (for 2002-2006 the Director is José Luís de Oliveira) and an Associate Director (held by Silverio Pinto Baptista). They lead:


  1. Policy Advocacy
  2. Legal Aid
  3. Research and Documentation
  4. Community Empowermet
  5. Membership Services
  6. Institutional Support

Branch Offices (called People’s Houses):

  1. Eastern Region in Baucau
  2. Central Region in Maubisse
  3. Western Region in Maliana

To achieve its objectives, HAK Association has five major program areas.

  1. Formulation of program and policy recommendations that guarantee the fulfillment and protection of human rights. This program is carried out through several activities:
    1. Investigate national regulations and programs;
    2. Monitoring of financial policies;
    3. Publication of the bulletin Direito (Rights) that provides analysis of the human rights situation.
  2. Empowerment of social groups and defense for victims of human rights violations. This program is implemented through activities as follows:
    1. Human rights workshops and trainings;
    2. Human rights education in villages;
    3. Empowerment of social development groups;
    4. Monitoring and investigation of human rights violations;
    5. Legal aid for victims of human rights violations.
  3. Protection of society’s creativity, knowledge, assets, and interests. Two activities fall under this program:
    1. Participatory research that empowers society;
    2. Support for the development of organizations that actively promote the people’s economy.
  4. Strengthening the network for enforcement of human rights. Activities of this program include:
    1. Development of a popular education network;
    2. Development of an advocacy network at the grassroots level;
    3. Development of a foreign aid monitoring network;
    4. Development of a policy analysis network;
    5. Development of a family network of victims of human rights abuses;
    6. Development of an international network for struggle for an International Tribunal for East Timor through reactivating the international solidarity network of supporters for East Timor independence.
  5. Development of organizational management. Development of management means that activities can be implemented efficiently and effectively. Activities included in this program are:
    1. Organizational development and management;
    2. Development of a participative work mechanism in accordance with needs and the situation;
    3. Improve work facilities;
    4. Development of organizational self-sufficiency;
    5. Development of staff abilities.

HAK Association has carried out a number of activities since its founding in 1996 until now. Following is a quick overview.

  1. Legal Aid
    The organization provides legal aid to victims of human rights abuses, both via litigation (through the judicial system) and non-litigation (outside the judicial system, e.g., via mediation, advocacy campaigns, and lobbying decision-making bodies). During the Indonesian occupation there were more civil and political violations, whereas during and following the transition period there have been more violations of social, economic, and cultural rights.
  2. Human Rights Education and Law
    Human rights education is carried out for those active in the midst of society such as teachers, catechists, Church lay workers, activists in youth and women’s organizations, and hamlet and village leaders. Besides village discussions and workshops, this education also occurs through radio broadcasts and the publication of Direito, along with articles in the general media.
  3. Monitoring of the Human Rights Situation
    Monitoring of human rights abuses is done together with members of society who have participated in various forms of human rights education administered by HAK Association. From the monitoring begun during the Indonesian occupation a wide network has already been established that reaches all districts. In the past the monitoring was mostly carried out together with an underground (clandestine) struggle and the Church, the results of which were distributed via solidarity networks in Indonesia and other countries. Now monitoring results are used for advocacy with the purpose being to reduce and prevent human rights abuses.
  4. Study
    Study is conducted to suggest policy improvements or even new policies to the government. This activity is carried out jointly with other organizations. When the Constituent Assembly formulated the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Lorosae (RDTL) in 2002, HAK Association together with FOKUPERS and other organizations carried out a study to learn about constitutions of other countries and gather the opinions of the people in the 13 districts. The findings were then written up as a working paper that was handed over as input to the Constituent Assembly.
  5. Citizenship Education
    During the transitional period HAK had a program regarding citizenship education to increase people’s general knowledge about important matters in the formation of national institutions in an independent East Timor. This covered the transition process moving towards full independence, the role of the UNTAET transitional government, general elections for the Constituent Assembly and the President of the Republic, the content and process for formulating the constitution along with the role of the people in this formulation.
  6. Monitoring the 1999 Referendum
    Approaching the 1999 Referendum, HAK formed the Committee for an Honest and Just Referendum with the task of giving information to the people of Timor Leste about the agenda of the referendum and monitoring the entire referendum process. The Committee also published the results of its monitoring. Besides HAK staff and volunteers, the committee was also comprised of solidarity activists from Indonesia.
  7. Emergency Aid for Refugees
    An increase in violence by TNI and anti-independence militia caused many villagers to seek refuge. To help them, HAK Association formed a Post for Coordination of Emergency Aid that gathered aid from various parties and distributed it to locations such as Same, Liqui�a, Suai, and Dili. A number of activists from Indonesia who were active in the Indonesian Humanitarian Mission for Timor Lorosae (MKITL) joined in this activity.

Gov. Serpa Rosa Street, Farol, Dili Timor Leste
Tel. +670.390.313323 Fax. +670.390.313324
PO Box 274 (via Darwin – Australia)
Bank Account: ANZ Bank, Dili – East Timor, No. 101 101 043 3030

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