by Shehzad Charania*
On 17 December 2013, Timor-Leste instituted proceedings at the International Court of Justice against Australia. The application related to the seizure and detention of “documents, data and other property” by “agents of Australia” from the offices of Timor-Leste’s legal adviser in Canberra, pursuant to a warrant issued by the Australian Attorney General under the Australian Security Intelligence Act. Timor-Leste claimed that the material seized related to a pending arbitration in which the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea was invalid because Australia had bugged the offices of the Timor-Leste cabinet room for a number of years, thereby gaining an unfair advantage in treaty negotiations. In their application, Timor-Leste argued that the material should be returned, and copies retrieved and destroyed. They demanded an apology, and a declaration from the ICJ that Australia’s actions were illegal under international law.
The same day, Timor-Leste submitted a request for provisional measures. They sought the delivery of the seized documents to the ICJ; information relating to, and destruction of copies made; and an assurance that Australia would “not intercept or cause or request the interception of communications between Timor-Leste and its legal advisers, whether within or outside Australia or Timor-Leste”. Continue reading