An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Executive Summary

Argentina is a federal constitutional republic. Mauricio Macri won election to the presidency in 2015 in multiparty elections the media and various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) described as generally free and fair. The country held midterm elections in October for one-third of the Senate and one-half of the Chamber of Deputies.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included torture by federal and provincial police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; interference in judicial independence; corruption at all levels of government; gender-based killings of women; and forced labor despite government efforts to combat it.

Judicial authorities indicted and prosecuted a number of current and former government officials who committed abuses during the year, including a number of investigations against high-level officials of the former government.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of men and women, including spousal rape, is a crime. The penalties range from six months’ to 20 years’ imprisonment. There were anecdotal reports of police or judicial reluctance to act on rape cases; women’s rights advocates claimed that the attitudes of police, hospitals, and courts toward survivors of sexual violence sometimes victimized them again.

The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse. Survivors may secure protective measures. The law imposes stricter penalties on those who kill their spouses, partners, or children as a consequence of their gender. According to local NGOs, lack of police and judicial vigilance often led to a lack of protection for victims.

In September hearings began in the April kidnapping, rape, and femicide of Micaela Garcia in Entre Rios Province. Sebastian Wagner, who confessed to Garcia’s killing, was previously convicted and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment on two counts of sexual abuse and rape but was released on parole in 2016. The judge who approved Wagner’s parole release was under investigation and faced calls to resign as of year’s end.

The National Register of Femicides, maintained by the Supreme Court’s Women’s Office, recorded that 230 women died as a result of domestic or gender-based violence during 2016. Media reported one femicide per day during the month of April. A local NGO reported 245 femicides from January to November 14, an increase from the previous year. The same source reported 18 percent of these victims had filed a police report and that 12 percent had active protection orders from authorities.

The Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence provided around-the-clock protection and resources to victims of domestic violence. The office received approximately 2,590 cases of domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires during the first three months of the year, an estimated 60 percent of which involved violence against women. The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order.

Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women.

During the first six months of the year, more than 10 shelters were under construction, with a limited number already open and functioning. More than 2,800 officials and service providers received training in preventing gender-based violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector and imposes disciplinary or corrective measures. In some jurisdictions, such as the city of Buenos Aires, sexual harassment might lead to the abuser’s dismissal, whereas in others, such as Santa Fe Province, the maximum penalty is five days in prison. In September a poll by the city of Buenos Aires ombudsman’s office reported that 80 percent of women suffered from harassment or violence in the street at least once during the year, and that 97 percent of these abuses were not reported to authorities. Under a 2016 law against street harassment in the city of Buenos Aires, violators may be fined or given court-ordered public service for making catcalls and other forms of street harassment.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: .

Discrimination: Although women enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men, they continued to face economic discrimination and held a disproportionately high number of lower-paying jobs. Women also held significantly fewer executive positions in the private sector than men, according to several studies. Although equal payment for equal work is constitutionally mandated, women earned approximately 27 percent less than men earned for similar or equal work.

The Supreme Court’s Office of Women trained judges, secretaries, and clerks to handle court cases related to women’s problems and to ensure equal access for women to positions in the court system. The office also trained judges, prosecutors, judicial staff, and law enforcement agents to increase awareness of gender-related crimes and develop techniques to address gender-related cases and victims.


Birth Registration: The government provides universal birth registration, and citizenship is derived both by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Parents have 40 days to register births, and the state has an additional 20 days to do so. The Ministry of Interior and Transportation may issue birth certificates to children under the age of 12 whose births were not previously registered.

Child Abuse: Child abuse was common; the Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence reported that 29 percent of the complaints it received involved children as of September. The government launched a 24/7 hotline staffed by professional child psychologists for free consultations and advice. The hotline received 1,487 calls to report child abuse from November 2016 to February, with 80 percent of the complaints involving abuse by a father or stepfather.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage for men and women is 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sexual exploitation of children, including in prostitution, was a problem. The minimum age of consensual sex is 13, but there are heightened protections for persons ages 13 to 16. A statutory rape law provides for penalties ranging from six months to 20 years in prison, depending on the age of the victim and other factors.

Several prominent cases of child sexual abuse were reported during the year. In May police arrested a nun and charged her with helping priests sexually abuse children at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the hearing impaired in Mendoza Province from 2004 to 2012.

The law prohibits the production and distribution of child pornography, with penalties ranging from six months to four years in prison. While the law does not prohibit the possession of child pornography by individuals for personal use, it provides penalties ranging from four months to two years in prison for possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute it. The law also provides penalties ranging from one month to three years in prison for facilitating access to pornographic shows or materials for minors under the age of 14.

During the year prosecutors from the nationwide Point of Contact Network against Child Pornography on the Internet pursued cases of internet child pornography. The network reported improvements on the national level in the ability to punish offenders.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at


The Jewish community consists of approximately 250,000 persons. Sporadic acts of anti-Semitic discrimination and vandalism continued. The Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations received 351 complaints of anti-Semitism in 2016, with more than 60 percent occurring online. The most commonly reported anti-Semitic incidents were slurs posted on various websites, graffiti, verbal slurs, and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.

In October, Interpol renewed Red Notices on five Iranians, one Lebanese, and one Colombian suspected in the 1994 bombing of the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 persons.

On September 20, the Gendarmerie concluded forensically that the death of Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor in charge of the AMIA bombing investigation, was a homicide. Previous analyses had maintained that there was insufficient evidence to prove foul play. The investigation continued without conclusion as to the motive for his death. In 2015 Nisman was found dead in his apartment from a gunshot wound to the head. Nisman was scheduled to testify the next day before a congressional committee concerning his allegations that then president Kirchner and associates conspired to convey impunity to the Iranians suspected of planning and executing the AMIA bombing.

Hearings in the AMIA bombing cover-up trial, which accused former government and law enforcement officials and a leader of the country’s Jewish community of complicity and false testimony to cover up the 1994 AMIA bombing, continued during the year.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution and laws prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The law also mandates access to buildings by persons with disabilities. According to media reports, the ombudsman of the city of Buenos Aires reported that 33 percent of the metropolitan subway stations had elevators or escalators and that only 29 percent of the stations were equipped with bathrooms for persons with disabilities.

While the federal government has protective laws, many provinces had not adopted such laws and had no mechanisms to ensure enforcement. An employment quota law reserves 4 percent of federal government jobs for persons with disabilities, but NGOs and advocacy groups claimed the level of disability employment achieved during the year was less than 1 per cent.

Indigenous People

The constitution recognizes the ethnic and cultural identities of indigenous peoples and states that congress shall protect their right to bilingual education, recognize their communities and the communal ownership of their ancestral lands, and allow for their participation in the management of their natural resources.

Indigenous people did not fully participate in the management of their lands or natural resources, in part because responsibility for implementing the law is delegated to the 23 provinces, the constitutions of only 11 of which recognize indigenous rights.

Projects carried out by the agricultural and extractive industries displaced individuals, limited their access to traditional means of livelihood, reduced the area of lands on which they depended, and caused pollution that in some cases endangered the health and welfare of indigenous communities. Conflict occurred when authorities evicted indigenous peoples from ancestral lands then in private ownership. The disappearance of indigenous rights supporter Santiago Maldonado (see section 1.b.) renewed attention to the land demands of indigenous communities.

The lack of trained teachers hampered government efforts to offer bilingual education opportunities to indigenous peoples.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons generally enjoyed the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual persons. No laws criminalize consensual same-sex conduct between adults. LGBTI persons could serve openly in the military.

The law gives transgender persons the right legally to change their gender and name on identity documents without prior approval from a doctor or judge. It also requires public and private health-care plans to cover some parts of hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, although the Ministry of Health did not effectively enforce this requirement.

National antidiscrimination laws do not specifically include the terms “sexual orientation or gender identity” as protected grounds, only “sex.” There was no official discrimination, however, based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. Media and NGOs reported cases of discrimination, violence, and police brutality toward LGBTI individuals, especially transgender persons.

Czech Republic

Executive Summary

Czech Republic is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. Legislative authority is vested in a bicameral parliament, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies (Poslanecka snemovna) and the senate (Senat). The president is head of state and appoints a prime minister from the majority party or coalition. On October 20 to 21, the country held parliamentary elections. In 2013 voters elected Milos Zeman to a five-year term as president in the country’s first direct presidential election. Observers considered both elections free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included societal violence against Romani persons, which the authorities investigated and prosecuted.

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses in the security services and elsewhere in the government.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and provides a penalty of two to 15 years in prison for violations. The government effectively enforced these provisions.

NGOs noted in particular the underreporting of violence against women in immigrant communities, where victims often feared losing their immigration status. Some NGOs continued to offer increased social, legal, and psychological services to rape victims.

Domestic violence is punishable by up to three years in prison, with longer sentences in aggravated circumstances. Police have the authority to remove violent abusers from their homes for 10 days. The law limits to six months the total time, including extensions, a removal order can remain in effect. The Ministry of Interior reported that, in the first six months of the year, police removed 1,022 offenders from their homes.

The law also provides protection against domestic violence to other persons living in the household, especially children and seniors.

Sexual Harassment: The antidiscrimination law prohibits sexual harassment and treats it as a form of direct discrimination. Penalties for conviction may include fines, dismissal from work, or imprisonment for up to eight years. Police often delayed investigations until the perpetrator committed serious crimes, such as sexual coercion, rape, or other forms of physical assault.

Offenders convicted of stalking may receive sentences of up to three years in prison.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: .

Discrimination: The law grants men and women the same legal status and rights, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. Women sometimes experienced discrimination in the area of employment (see section 7.d.)


Birth Registration: Children derive their citizenship from their parents. Any child with at least one citizen parent is automatically a citizen. Children born to noncitizens, such as asylum seekers or migrants, retain only the citizenship of their parents. Authorities registered births immediately.

Child Abuse: NGOs estimated that 40,000 children experienced some form of violence each year. According to police and the Ministry of Interior, there were 259 cases filed in the first six months of the year, including for sexual abuse and commercial sex exploitation. Nine children died due to abuse or mistreatment in 2016. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs reported that in 2016 authorities removed 892 children from families and placed them in children’s homes due to abuse or mistreatment.

Prison sentences for persons found guilty of child abuse range from five to 12 years in the case of the death of a child.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage is 18. Some members of the Romani community married before reaching legal age. The law allows for marriage at the age of 16 with court approval; no official marriages were reported of anyone under 16.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children and the possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to eight years. The minimum age for consensual sex is 15. Sexual relations with a child younger than 15 is punishable by a prison term of up to eight years or up to 18 years in the case of the death of the child. The law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes punishments of up to 16 years’ imprisonment for violations. These laws are effectively enforced. There were reports of children subjected to sex trafficking in the commercial sex industry.

In addition to strict punishments, the Ministry of Interior combats sexual exploitation of minors through seminars and lectures at schools and programs on public radio and television.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at


The country’s Jewish population numbered approximately 10,000. Public expressions of anti-Semitism were rare, but small, fairly well-organized right-wing groups with anti-Semitic views were active around the country. The Ministry of Interior continued to monitor the activities of such groups, increase cooperation with police from neighboring countries, and shut down unauthorized rallies.

In 2016 the Ministry of Interior recorded 28 criminal offenses with anti-Semitic motives compared with 47 in 2015. A well-known anti-Semitic blogger continued his internet postings, including statements denying the Holocaust. In March he was sentenced to one year in prison with a two-year probation for incitement to hatred.

The Ministry of Culture designated as items of cultural heritage 12 tombstones and tombstone fragments from a former Jewish cemetery in Prostejov (in Eastern Czech Republic) which was designated as a cultural monument in 2016. A foreign philanthropist led efforts to restore the cemetery, which the Nazis had destroyed and which was later turned into a public park. A local school director’s messages to parents, which mischaracterized the proposed restoration, alarmed them and led to 10 percent of the city’s voters signing a petition against the project. The local mayor supported the petition, claiming the park provided needed access to a nearby school and residential parking. Soon thereafter, anti-Semitic hate speech appeared in social media and a local tabloid characterized the dispute as an orthodox Jewish attack on the city. Prime Minister Sobotka appointed his chief advisor, Vladimir Spidla, to mediate the dispute. In April a group of minors vandalized a symbolic tombstone of Rabbi Zvi Horowitz at Prostejov Cemetery; the case was dismissed due to the age of the perpetrators.

The government had an antiextremism strategy emphasizing prevention and education to combat hostility and discrimination toward the Romani community as well as address anti-Semitism and Holocaust education.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government generally enforced these provisions. Nevertheless, persons with disabilities faced a shortage of public accommodations and were unemployed at disproportionately high rates. Most children with disabilities were able to attend mainstream primary and secondary schools and universities.

According to the law, only children with significant disabilities should attend special schools with specially trained teachers.

The ombudsperson is required to make regular visits to all governmental and private workplaces employing incarcerated or institutionalized persons, including persons with disabilities, to examine conditions, assure respect for fundamental rights, and advocate for improved protection against mistreatment. The ombudsperson’s office conducted such visits throughout the year. According to a report by the Ministry for Human Rights, during 2016 government ministries were not complying with the law that requires 4 percent of the staff of companies and institutions with more than 25 employees to be persons with physical disabilities. Only four of 25 government ministries and their branches met the requirement. Instead of employing persons with disabilities, many companies and institutions paid fines or bought products from companies that employed persons with disabilities, a practice that the National Disability Council criticized.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

In the first half of the year, the Ministry of Interior reported 95 extremists were charged with criminal acts of violence or instigation of violence against national minorities, most often Roma. The authorities indicted 92 individuals.

The approximately 300,000 Roma in the country faced varying levels of discrimination in education, employment, and housing and have high levels of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy.

In early 2016 a Romani NGO filed more than 10 criminal complaints against several social media sites for hate speech that targeted Roma and other minorities. The Prague 1 District Public Prosecution Office and police investigators opened investigations into four such cases; the cases are pending. According to the Ministry of Interior, Roma were the victims of 25 criminal acts in 2016, compared with 33 in 2015.

In June the Czech Constitutional Court rejected a complaint filed by the town of Vsetin over its protracted dispute with Roma whom it evicted and forced to take up residence outside of the Zlin Region. The Romani evictees were seeking compensation from the town. The case was pending.

A white supremacist webpage registered outside the country listed the names and addresses of Romani activists and several high-profile individuals who either worked on Romani issues or expressed support for Roma in the past.

Only 24.3 percent of Romani children attended mainstream elementary school. The remaining Romani children attended special schools, which effectively segregated them into a substandard educational system.

Approximately one-third of Roma lived in “excluded localities” or ghettos. According to a 2015 report by the Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs, the number of ghettos doubled to 606 since 2006, and their population grew from 80,000 to 115,000.

While the law prohibits housing discrimination based on ethnicity, NGOs stated that some municipalities discriminated against certain socially disadvantaged groups, primarily Roma, basing their decisions not to supply housing on the allegedly bad reputation of Romani applicants from previous residences.

The Agency for Social Inclusion is responsible for implementing the government’s strategy to combat social exclusion, mainly among the Romani population. The minister for human rights and the minister for labor and social affairs made public statements in support of socially disadvantaged groups, in particular Roma, and advocated policies favorable to them within the government.

In July the owners of a controversial pig farm located on the site of a WWII Roma concentration camp in Lety announced that they had come to an agreement with the government to sell the farm for an undisclosed sum. According to the Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Roma Culture will build a memorial on the site.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The country has antidiscrimination laws that cover sexual orientation. In its report published in 2015, the European Commission against Racial Intolerance criticized the country for not having specific hate crime provisions covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

NGO contacts reported the number of incidents of violence based on sexual orientation was very low. Local LGBTI activists stated that citizens were largely tolerant of LGBTI persons.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Persons with HIV/AIDS faced societal discrimination, although there were no reported cases of violence. The Czech AIDS Help Society reported a number of cases of discrimination, primarily in access to health and dental care, and wrongful termination of employment or discrimination during the hiring process. The government took no action in most cases, since individuals with HIV/AIDS often preferred to keep their status confidential rather than file a complaint. HIV/AIDS is classified as a disability under the anti-discrimination law, which contributes to the stigmatization of and discrimination against HIV-positive individuals.

Other Societal Violence and Discrimination

According to BIS (Security Intelligence Service) there were no violent anti-Muslim protests or demonstrations in 2016 or the first half of 2017. Anti-Muslim protests and sentiments largely shifted to social media. NGOs reported instances of hate speech related to migration. Some politicians, including the president, the deputy prime minister, members of parliament, senators, and local politicians across the political spectrum, used antimigrant rhetoric with Muslims the main target.

Although the government publicly condemned anti-Islamic rhetoric, President Zeman continued to criticize Islam, calling it a “religion of death, and Islamic anticivilization.”

NGOs actively worked to combat anti-Islamic attitudes, and several events promoting tolerance took place during the year.


Executive Summary

Timor-Leste is a multiparty, parliamentary republic. Following free, fair, and peaceful parliamentary elections in July, Mari bin Amude Alkatiri became prime minister of a two-party coalition government. In a March presidential election, also judged as free and fair, voters elected Francisco Lu Olo Guterres. The government conducted free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections. In contrast with previous years, elections were conducted without extensive support from the international community. Security forces maintained public order with no reported incidents of excessive use of force.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included: extended pretrial detention, delayed trials and lack of due process; gender-based violence; and child abuse including sexual abuse.

The government took some steps to prosecute members and officials of the security services who used excessive force, but public perceptions of impunity persisted according to security sector-focused NGOs.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


Rape and Domestic Violence: Gender-based violence remained a serious concern. A 2016 Asia Foundation study found that 59 percent of girls and women between 15 and 49 years old had experienced sexual or physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner and that 14 percent of girls and women had been raped by someone other than a partner. Although rape, including marital rape, is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, failures to investigate or prosecute cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse were common. Nevertheless, the formal justice system addressed an increasing number of reported domestic and sexual abuse cases.

The law broadly covers all forms of domestic violence, including marital rape, and augments the Penal Code. Penalties for “Mistreatment of a Spouse” include two to six years imprisonment; however, prosecutors frequently used a different article in domestic violence cases (“Simple Offenses against Physical Integrity”), which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. Judicial observers noted judges were lenient in sentencing in domestic violence cases. Local NGOs viewed the law as having a positive effect by encouraging victims of domestic violence to report their cases to police.

According to the Office of the Prosecutor General, domestic violence offenses were the second-most commonly charged crimes in the criminal justice system, after simple assault. Several NGOs criticized the failure to issue protection orders and over-reliance on suspended sentences, even in cases involving significant bodily harm. Prosecutors routinely charged cases involving aggravated injury and use of deadly weapons as low-level simple assaults.

Police, prosecutors, and judges routinely ignored many parts of the law that protect victims. NGOs noted that fines were paid to the court and often came from shared family resources, further hurting the victim.

The PNTL’s Vulnerable Persons Units (VPUs) generally handled cases of domestic violence and sexual crimes, but does not have enough staff to provide a significant presence in all areas of the country.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity is charged with providing assistance to victims of domestic violence. Due to staff shortages, the ministry had difficulty responding to all cases. To deal with this problem, the ministry worked closely with local NGOs and service providers to offer assistance to victims of violence.

Sexual Harassment: The labor code prohibits sexual harassment in the work place, but such harassment reportedly was widespread. Relevant authorities processed no such cases during the year (see section 7.d.).

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: .

Discrimination: The constitution states that “women and men shall have the same rights and duties in all areas of family life and political, economic, social, cultural life,” but it does not specifically address discrimination. The country’s Permanent Representative to the UN acknowledged that “women are often still the primary target of social discrimination” in a September speech. Some customary practices discriminate against women, including traditional inheritance systems that tend to exclude women from land ownership.

Some communities continued to practice the payment of a bride price as part of marriage agreements (barlake); this practice has been linked to domestic violence and to the inability to leave an abusive relationship. Some communities also continued the practice of forcing a widow to either marry one of her husband’s family members or, if she and her husband did not have children together, leave her husband’s home.

The secretary of state for gender equality and social inclusion is responsible for the promotion of gender equality. More than 30 NGOs focused and collaborated on women’s issues. During the parliamentary election campaign, this advocacy network signed pacts with the leaders of seven major political parties to uphold and defend the rights of women and children in the program for the new government.


Birth Registration: Children acquire citizenship through birth within the country or by having a citizen parent or grandparent. A central civil registry lists a child’s name at birth and issues birth certificates. According to the 2015 census, birth registration rates were high, with no discernible difference in the rates of registration for girls and boys. While access to services such as schooling does not depend on birth registration, birth registration is necessary to acquire a passport. Registration later in life requires only a reference from the village chief.

Education: The constitution stipulates that primary education shall be compulsory and free. The law requires nine years of compulsory education beginning at six years of age; however, there is no system to ensure that the provision of education is free. Public schools were tuition-free, but students paid for supplies and uniforms. According to government statistics, the net access rate for primary education was 88 percent, while the net access rate for secondary education was 32 percent. Non-enrollment was substantially higher in rural than in urban areas. While initial attendance rates for boys and girls were similar, girls often were forced to leave school if they became pregnant and faced difficulty in obtaining school documents or transferring schools. Lack of sanitation facilities at some schools also led some girls to drop out upon reaching puberty.

Child Abuse: The law protects against child abuse; however, abuse in many forms was common. Sexual abuse of children remained a serious concern. Despite widespread reports of child abuse, few cases entered the judicial system. Observers criticized the courts for handing down shorter sentences than prescribed by law in numerous cases of sexual abuse of children during the year.

While the Ministry of Education has a zero tolerance policy for corporal punishment, there is no law on the issue, and reports indicated the practice was common.

Early and Forced Marriage: Although a marriage cannot be registered until the younger spouse is at least age 16, cultural, religious and civil marriages were recognized in the civil code. Cultural pressure to marry, especially if a girl or woman becomes pregnant, was strong. Underage couples cannot officially marry, but are often married de facto once they have children together. Forced marriage rarely occurred, although reports indicated that social pressure sometimes encouraged victims of rape to marry their attacker or persons to enter into an arranged marriage where a bride price was paid. According to the most recent information from UNICEF (2015), an estimated 19 percent of girls married prior to the age of 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sexual assault against children was a significant problem, but largely unaddressed. The age of consent is 14, according to the Penal Code. Some commercial sexual exploitation of children also occurred. The penal code makes sexual conduct by an adult with anyone below the age of 17 a crime, and increases penalties when such conduct involves victims younger than 14. The penal code also makes both child prostitution and child pornography crimes. It defines a “child” for purposes of those provisions as a “minor less than 17 years of age. The penal code also criminalizes abduction of a minor.

There were reports that child victims of sexual abuse were sometimes forced to testify in public fora despite a witness protection law that provides for video link or other secure testimony.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at


There was no indigenous Jewish population, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution grants equal rights to and prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in addition to requiring the state to protect them. No specific legislation addresses the rights and/or support of persons with disabilities.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Health is responsible for treating mental disabilities. In many municipalities, children with disabilities were unable to attend school due to accessibility problems. Beginning in 2016, the Ministry of Social Solidarity worked with the Ministries of Health and Education on an inclusive education pilot program to improve access to education for people with disabilities.

Electoral regulations provide accommodations, including personal assistance, to enable persons with disabilities to vote.

Service providers noted that domestic violence and sexual assault against persons with disabilities was a growing concern. They indicated that such cases had been slow to receive support from the justice sector. Persons with mental disabilities accused of crimes are entitled to special protections by law. Prisons did not have specific supports for persons with mental disabilities.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The constitution and law are silent on same-sex relations and other matters of sexual orientation and gender identity. The PDHJ worked with civil society organization CODIVA (Coalition on Diversity and Action) to increase awareness in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community regarding processes available for human rights complaints. While physical abuse in public or by public authorities was uncommon, LGBTI persons were often verbally abused and discriminated against in some public services, including medical centers. CODIVA noted that transgender members of the community were particularly vulnerable to harassment and discrimination. A November study conducted for Rede Feto, a national women’s advocacy network, with lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men in Dili and Bobonaro documented the use by family members of corrective rape, physical and psychological abuse, ostracism, discrimination, and marginalization against LGBTI individuals.

Access to education was limited for some LGBTI persons who were removed from the family home or who feared abuse at school. Transgender students were more likely to experience bullying and drop out of school at the secondary level.

In June members of civil society organized Timor-Leste’s first-ever Pride March in Dili. The march included participation from students, activists, and a representative of the Prime Minister’s Office. Then prime minister Araujo met with LGBTI organizations and called for acceptance of LGBTI individuals on his official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

The National AIDS Commission is responsible for providing information, programming, and campaigns on HIV/AIDS; however, no government body was tasked with providing specific services and advocacy. According to civil society organizations, HIV and AIDS patients experienced social stigma and were ostracized by their families and communities.

Human Rights Reports
Edit Your Custom Report

01 / Select a Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future