Lawyers to defend East Timor immigrants from abuse … in Portugal
An image shown by SIC television when it became clear how many young people from East Timor were arriving in the capital, already in debt to traffickers, with absolutely nothing waiting for them but misery and more poverty

Lawyers to defend East Timor immigrants from abuse … in Portugal

While rest of world focuses on Qatar, human rights abuses are playing out in Portugal

The Portuguese Ordem dos Advogados (often translated as Bar Association) has announced it will start providing legal assistance to immigrants from East Timor – and defend them from the “abuses and illegalities” that have become ever more apparent in the last few months.

In a statement today, the Ordem said its intention has been communicated directly by President Luís Menezes Leitão, to Marina Ribeiro Alkatiri, ambassador of the Democratic Republic of East Timor to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).

For the Ordem, “the evidence of the existence of networks that aid illegal immigration and human trafficking affront human rights“; while the stories and footage of young immigrants living on the streets of the capital since being ‘tricked’ into arriving here reflect an “undignified and worrying scenario of abuses and illegalities“.

The Ordem is thus committed to “ensuring that these immigrants, who are defenceless in terms of their rights, have an answer to the various legal problems they are currently facing“.

Earlier this month, President Marcelo revealed that, at the time, 873 Timorese were living in Portugal, “the overwhelming majority of them – more than 500 – being housed or sheltered or receiving support from a wide variety of institutions” – State, local authorities and social solidarity institutions.

It had been up till then possible to “find employment for about two hundred” and it was expected that there were a total of about “1,300 Timorese citizens” in Portugal, taking into account the data that indicate, “since January, 5,514 entries and 4,141 exits” from the country, said Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.