The Ombudsman was established by the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in May 2002, highlighting the importance of strong human rights protection in independent Timor-Leste.
Two years later, the statute providing the necessary legal basis for the functioning of the Ombudsman came into force. After a first attempt to elect the first Ombudsman did not secure the necessary two-thirds parliamentary majority, a second vote in March 2005, did succeed.
The first Ombudsman, Dr. Sebastiao Ximenes, was sworn into office in June of the same year. Two Deputy Ombudsmen were then appointed and took office in the same month. In March 2006, the Ombudsman opened its doors to the public for the first time.
In May 2006, Timor-Leste was faced with a political and military crisis, which resulted in almost one third of its population being internally displaced. The Ombudsman undertook intensive monitoring of police and military services, protection of internally displaced persons and undertook an in-depth investigation into the legality of the state bodies’ actions.
The President of Timor-Leste, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs were subpoenaed to appear before the Ombudsman to provide information in relation to public institutions’ actions prior to and following the May 2006 crisis.
In 2007, PDHJ accredited as an ‘A’ status NHRI by the international coordinating committee of NHRIs. Furthermore, in 2008 -2010 there is a consolidation of the institution
In 2008, the Ombudsman received statutory accreditation from the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) for National Human Rights Institutions in recognition of the Ombudsman being in full compliance with the Paris Principles in being an independent and impartial body with overarching powers to promote and protect human rights.
The ICC accreditation gives the Ombudsman a special status before UN bodies and other international human rights mechanisms, allowing direct intervention in the Human Rights Council and other UN bodies.
In July 2009, the National Parliament established an Anti-Corruption Commission (CAC) as a specialised institution, with police powers to tackle the issue of corruption. As a consequence, the Ombudsman transferred the corruption-related aspects of its mandate to the new Commission.
In April 2010, Dr Sebastiao Dias Ximenes was re-appointed for a second term.
During 2010 and 2011, the Ombudsman consulted widely with the Timorese community and key stakeholders in developing its first medium term strategic plan. This included workshops and public meetings. The final strategic plan was approved by the Ombudsman and published in early 2011.
The Ombudsman continues to grow stronger and to develop its institutional capacity. The result will be stronger protection and a better informed community around human rights and good governance. In 2011, number of complaints received by the Provedoria reaches over 300 per year for the first time.