Planting a seed for the future: Self-Regulation of the Media in Timor-Leste

Journalists and media community, government representatives, members of the diplomatic corps, and UN agencies gathered by the scenic ocean front in Dili to witness the official launch of the project “Strengthening Media Self-Regulatory Mechanisms in Timor-Leste” on 13 March.

The three-year project is a collaboration between UNESCO, the Conselho de Imprensa de Timor-Leste (TLPC) and with the generous support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It also includes direct collaborations with the two local universities with journalism and communication programmes namely, Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) and the Universidade Oriental Timor Lorosa’e (UNITAL).

Dr. Shahbaz Khan, the Director and Representative of UNESCO Office in Jakarta delivered the opening remarks where he linked the importance of an independent, free and pluralistic media to the sustainable development of the country. He liken the launch of the project as “planting a seed for the future” which will hopefully grow into a strong healthy tree that is beneficial to the great people of Timor-Leste.

Also at the opening of the event were Mr. Virgilio Da Silva Guterres, President of the Conselho de Imprensa de Timor-Leste, Dr. Roel van der Veen, Head of Political Department at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Mr. Matías Freitas Boavida Secretary of State for Council of Ministers and Social Communications.

The ceremony culminated with the hitting of a traditional ‘tambor’ drum by all parties involved symbolizing the official launch of the project. This was followed up by the signing of a Letter of Intent between UNESCO, the press council and the two universities to concretize the collaboration between the four parties to train journalism students.

The project will see systematic capacity building for the members of the press council, the secretariat and for the journalism students in Timor-Leste through South-South/North-South collaborations. There will also be awareness-raising activities and additional training opportunities for journalists located in both the capital and provinces on professional standards and ethical journalism.