Venidora Oliveira – The Director of the Human Rights Association (HAK), Manuel Monteiro, has criticized the judicial public defenders service, saying it is not functioning properly.
He said during HAK's visits to Becora and Gleno prisons, prisoners always question about the service system of public defenders who do not pay more attention to them. "They just come to the first trial and then they make no effort to prove their clients are not guilty," said Monteiro in Dili.
However, in comparison he said government leaders and officials always received better service than poorer people. "They give good treatment to our leaders by finding evidence then appealing but for the people, they don't," he said.
In response, President of Public Defenders Sergio Hornai conceded services provided to the accused in some cases was lacking due to limited human resources. "We only have three public defenders, however, we have more than 500 prisoners, so the public defenders are not proportional to the prisoners that we have," said Hornai.
However, he said public defenders were making efforts to provide a better service, particularly for those facing their first interrogation and trial. "They cannot provide the service to all of them, [but] at least we can do something for a few of them with the limited resources that we have," he said.