Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press and a functioning democratic political system promoted freedom of expression, including for the press.
Press and Media, Including Online Media: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.
There were few government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events, although the National Language Institute must approve academic research on Tetum and other indigenous languages and regularly did so.
The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.
The constitution provides for “freedom to assemble peacefully and without weapons, without a need for prior authorization.” The law establishes guidelines on obtaining permits to hold demonstrations, requires police be notified five days in advance of any demonstration or strike, and establishes setback requirements at some buildings. The power to grant or deny permits is vested only in the PNTL. According to the government’s human rights monitoring body, civil society groups complained national police limited peaceful assembly during some events related to high-level visits during the August 30 celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1999 referendum when a majority of persons voted for independence from Indonesia.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status; however, the system does not align with international standards. There were concerns that regulations governing asylum and refugee status may preclude genuine refugees from proving their eligibility for such status. For example, persons who wish to apply for asylum have only 72 hours to do so after entering the country. Foreign nationals already present in the country have only 72 hours to initiate the process after the situation in their home country becomes too dangerous for a safe return.