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Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? Yes


Constitution Year 2002
Last Amended not amended
Source World Intellectual Property Organization
Translation English-language source
Current as of May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2


…In its cultural and humane perspective, the Catholic Church in East Timor has always been able to take on the suffering of all the People with dignity, placing itself on their side in the defense of their most fundamental rights.
…Thus, the Members of the Constituent Assembly, in their capacity as legitimate representatives of the People elected on the 30th of August 2001,
…Interpreting the profound sentiments, the aspirations and the faith in God of the People of East Timor;
Solemnly reaffirm their determination to fight all forms of tyranny, oppression, social, cultural or religious domination and segregation, to defend national independence, to respect and guarantee human rights and the fundamental rights of the citizen, to ensure the principle of the separation of powers in the organization of the State, and to establish the essential rules of multi-party democracy, with a view to building a just and prosperous nation and developing a society of solidarity and fraternity.

Section 11 (Valorization of Resistance)

1. The Democratic Republic of East Timor acknowledges and values the historical resistance of the Maubere People against foreign domination and the contribution of all those who fought for national independence.
2. The State acknowledges and values the participation of the Catholic Church in the process of national liberation of East Timor.
3. The State shall ensure special protection to the war-disabled, orphans and other dependants of those who dedicated their lives to the struggle for independence and national sovereignty, and shall protect all those who participated in the resistance against the foreign occupation, in accordance with the law.
4. The law shall define the mechanisms for rendering tribute to the national heroes.

Section 12 (State and religious denominations)

1. The State shall recognize and respect the different religious denominations, which are free in their organization and in the exercise of their own activities, to take place in due observance of the Constitution and the law.
2. The State shall promote the cooperation with the different religious denominations that contribute to the well-being of the people of East Timor.

Section 16 (Universality and Equality)

1. All citizens are equal before the law, shall exercise the same rights and shall be subject to the same duties.
2. No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of color, race, marital status, gender, ethnical origin, language, social or economic status, political or ideological convictions, religion, education and physical or mental condition.

Section 25 (State of exception)

1. Suspension of the exercise of fundamental rights, freedoms and guarantees shall only take place if a state of siege or a state of emergency has been declared as provided for by the Constitution.
2. A state of siege or a state of emergency shall only be declared in case of effective or impending aggression by a foreign force, of serious disturbance or threat of serious disturbance to the democratic constitutional order, or of public disaster.
3. A declaration of a state of siege or a state of emergency shall be substantiated, specifying rights, freedoms and guarantees the exercise of which is to be suspended.
4. A suspension shall not last for more than thirty days, without prejudice of possible justified renewal, when strictly necessary, for equal periods of time.
5. In no case shall a declaration of a state of siege affect the right to life, physical integrity, citizenship, non-retroactivity of the criminal law, defense in a criminal case and freedom of conscience and religion, the right not to be subjected to torture, slavery or servitude, the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the guarantee of non-discrimination.
6. Authorities shall restore constitutional normality as soon as possible.

Section 38 (Protection of personal data)

1. Every citizen has the right to access personal data stored in a computer system or entered into mechanical or manual records regarding him or her, and he or she may require correction and up-date thereof and has the right to know their purpose.
2. The law shall determine the concept of personal data, as well as the conditions applicable to the processing thereof.
3. The processing of personal data on private life, political and philosophical convictions, religious faith, party or trade union membership and ethnical origin, without the consent of the interested person, is prohibited.

Section 45 (Freedom of conscience, religion and worship)

1. Every person is guaranteed the freedom of conscience, religion and worship and the religious denominations are separated from the State.
2. No one shall be persecuted or discriminated against on the basis of his or her religious convictions.
3. The right to be a conscientious objector shall be guaranteed in accordance with the law.
4. Freedom to teach any religion in the framework of the respective religious denomination is guaranteed.

Section 50 (Right to work)

1. Every citizen, regardless of gender, has the right and the duty to work and to choose freely his or her profession.
2. The worker has the right to labor safety and hygiene, remuneration, rest and vacation.
3. Dismissal without just cause or on political, religious and ideological grounds is prohibited.
4. Compulsory work, without prejudice to the cases provided for under penal legislation, is prohibited.
5. The State shall promote the establishment of co-operatives of production and shall lend support to household businesses as sources of employment.

Section 77 (Inauguration and swearing-in)

1. The President of the Republic shall be sworn in by the Speaker of the National Parliament and shall be inaugurated in public ceremony before the members of the National Parliament and the representatives of the other organs of sovereignty.
2. The inauguration shall take place on the last day of the term of office of the outgoing President or, in case of election due to vacancy, on the eighth day following the publication of the electoral results.
3. At the swearing-in ceremony, the President of the Republic shall take the following oath:
"I swear to God, to the people and on my honor that I will fulfill with loyalty the functions that have been invested in me, will abide by and enforce the Constitution and the laws and will dedicate all my energies to the defense and consolidation of independence and national unity."


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at support@thearda.com if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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