Opening remarks by Ahmed M. Saeed, ADB Vice-President, Operations 2, at the ADB Regional Technical Assistance on the Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems Training on Gender-Based Violence Cases for Timor-Leste Judges, 10 December 2022

Honourable Judges, distinguished speakers, respected guests and friends, warm greetings from Manila.

My name is Ahmed Saeed, the Vice-President in charge of Asian Development Bank’s operations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

It is my absolute pleasure to open this most important training on the topic of “Gender-Based Violence Cases” in Timor-Leste. This training by ADB addresses a topic that is universally recognized as a major impediment for all women and girls, everywhere, to achieving equality and access to justice. No country, culture or religion is immune from what is recognized as a global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

Timor-Leste has made significant advances to address “gender-based violence” as it is frequently called, because it is mostly inflicted on women and girls, by men. These advances have occurred through developing policies, national action plans and laws. In particular, in Timor-Leste, the Law Against Domestic Violence was enacted in 2010. However, more can be done to improve the formal justice system and, I believe, this training will assist in this process.

The ADB team who will be providing this training have worked hard to develop the seven training modules, during Covid times. It has been very challenging. This training could not have been developed without the generous information and support provided to the ADB team by the Timorese government, court authorities, development partners working in Timor-Leste, and importantly the numerous civil society organisations and individuals who have also assisted. Many have been acknowledged in the Foreword to the Training Manual. I have also been told that information and guidance have additionally been given by some of you who are attending this training.

Although by now you have heard numerous references to the ADB, some of you may not be aware of about the work and operation of the ADB itself. Without descending into technical details, the Asian Development Bank, as the name partly suggests, is a development bank committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.

Supporting gender equality is a top priority of the ADB and is one of the ADB’s key operational priorities in its corporate Strategy 2023.

This training that you will be undertaking, sits under a regional technical assistance program entitled the Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems which was developed and is being executed by the Office of the General Counsel’s Law and Policy Reform Program. My office was very supportive of including Timor-Leste under this regional technical assistance and provided the seed funding.

This is an ambitious program to provide customized trainings for judges, magistrates and prosecutors. Most relevant to you here today, is that the capacity training has being developed to take particular account of the circumstances in Timor-Leste.

It is not simply universal training for all countries in Asia and the Pacific. The ADB team have been highly conscious of the need to consider the customs, norms, practices and laws that are relevant to Timor-Leste alone.

The training also recognizes the informal justice system that exists in Timor-Leste.

All of these are very important ingredients and ensures that the training is unique and highly tailored for Timor-Leste context.

It will also be delivered in a manner that is engaging and encourages your participation throughout the two and half days.

In closing, I hope that as a result of your involvement in this training, you will not be simply gaining information and practical ways to apply it, but that you will be inspired to take your own steps in forging some new pathways to improve access to justice for the women and girls in Timor-Leste.

Obrigado (thank you).