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Peace and Democracy Assistance for Juvenile Justice (PDAJJ)


The Prison Program

Becora Prison

The Peace and Democracy Assistance for Juvenile Justice Program provides psychosocial support and information to boys/young men in Prison Becora in Dili. There is still no Juvenile Justice System in Timor Leste and the boys/young men are housed in a special compound within the main prison. The ages range from 17 to 24 and currently there are 28 boys/young men in prison. 80% of them have committed serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder and sexual offences and have long sentences, some up to 20 years. The rest are either on remand or have received shorter sentences for crimes such as throwing stones, stealing and burning property.

The program began in 2004 and was supported for many years by ICCO, a Dutch Protestant Church Organization. From the beginning in 2000, PRADET had visited Becora prison as so many men were there because of mental illness. (There is still no in-patient facility in Timor Leste for people with mental illness.)

NOTE: Adequate funding for the Becora Prison program has stopped but PDAJJ staff are still vising weekly to maintain contact with the young offenders.

Gleno Prison Program for Women

This program is supported by AFAP. Staff travels to Gleno, a return trip of 3 hours, for 2 hours once a week. There are currently 18 women (all adults) in prison and their crimes include murder, (some have murdered abusive husbands), human trafficking, drug trafficking, infanticide, fraud and corruption. The women come from very different backgrounds, some are illiterate and some have tertiary education.

The objective of the 2 programs is to support the prisoners during their stay in prison and after they are released. This includes group activities within the prison, individual and group counselling, support for families to visit their family member and reintegration when they are released. When funds allow PRADET employs Arte Moris to provide music and art as therapy. The young men in Becora have written words and music to produce some fabulous songs and the women have been given sewing machines to produce goods they can sell.

All prisoners receive education about conflict resolution, the impact of alcohol and drugs, alternative ways of managing emotions, sexual health, trauma and mental health. Where possible contact is made with their families who are supported to visit and contact maintained after release from prison.

Detailed assessments and notes are kept in individual files with a view to reintegration on release. Of the young men in prison only 4 have returned to prison since the Becora prison began.

It must be noted that the Prison Commanders in both prisons are very supportive of PDAJJ’s involvement particularly as the programs offered are unique.


Alcohol and Drugs Community Education Program

This program grew out of the Becora Prison Program because so many boys/young men were in prison for alcohol and drug related offences, particularly alcohol, and Chefe de Suco continue to say that the 3 biggest problems in their communities are land disputes, domestic violence and alcohol related violence.  PDAJJ started with community education about Use and Abuse of Alcohol and extended it to include information about Drugs and Managing Emotions as a result of demands from participants. They also invited Community Police to co-facilitate, resulting in a health worker and police officer giving the training.

This training has been delivered in every sub-district in every district and has been followed up with Refresher Training in each place. It has had excellent results as most of the information given has been new. It is the only community education program about alcohol and drugs in Timor Leste.

Due to current lack of funding this program has been “put on hold”.

Personal Development Course

This program commenced in 2013. The course is based in Sucos and aims to provide participants with information, discussion, skills and techniques to help them better resolve conflict in their homes and community, to communicate better and to identify emotional signals, rather than simply resorting to violence. Participants are taught calming strategies, encouraged to consider the key aspects of healthy relationships and to create practical strategies to improve their daily lives/living together. As well as practical information sessions on the impact of alcohol and drugs and domestic violence, the course aims to encourage participants to reflect on and analyze gender norms within their own culture.

Results show that many participants choose to make practical changes in their daily lives, sharing the domestic workload, drinking and smoking less, disciplining their children in non-violent ways, and making joint household decisions. Chefes report a reduction of violence in their communities.

These dresses were made by the women in Gleno Prison in late 2016 with support from PRADET
These dresses were made by the women in Gleno Prison in late 2016 with support from PRADET