31 December 2009

Timor Leste Government Personal Protection and Security of Government Officials

The Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers and Official Spokesperson for the Government of Timor-Leste Agio Pereira November 19, 2009 Dili, Timor-Leste - Personal Protection and Security of Government Officials

The Close Protection Unit personnel attached to members of the Government have always conducted their duties with professionalism and integrity.

Security is assigned as per international practice to those who may require basic protection. This includes the Secretary-General of the Fretilin party Mari Alkatiri and the President of the Fretilin party Lu-Olo; who have endorsed the quality and dedication of the trained protection units.

Security officers usually carry a hand pistol which is partially if not completely concealed. The issue of allowing protection units into National Parliament is debated each year, with the general consensus to allow the units to carry out their duties and functions as per protocol and defined job description. The protection officers have never interfered, intervened or interrupted the proceedings of National Parliament.

Agio Pereira noted “The international statement made by Jose Teixeira is offensive to the brave men and women who serve Timor-Leste, its sovereign pillars and those who are charged to their care. Teixeira has yet to devolutionize the concept that Timor-Leste now has a non-partisan and depoliticized security force. Some of the officers in the public gallery were also reminded by Fretilin MPs to not be there when they were exercising their right to listen to the debate, as every citizen deserves the right to do so.

These statements only degrade our nation in the eyes of the international community and bring nothing of value to our people. It does typify excessively unproductive behavior during the budget period, more of which unfortunately, we will see in coming weeks.’ ENDS

For More Information Please Contact: Agio Pereira +670 723 0011 E-mail: agiopereira@cdm.gov.tl

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Response to AMP de facto government Release of 19 November 2009: I refer to the media release by the de facto Secretary of State for Council of Ministers of the AMP de facto government, Mr. Agio Pereira, titled "Personal Protection and Security of Government Officials" dated 19 November 2009.

Mr. Pereira misrepresented my statement in the parliament, and or media flash statement, because it was not an objection to any individuals or police or anyone else being present inside the chamber of the national parliament, but "weapons" or "armed persons".

It is the expression of a common democratic principle to not allow weapons in a democratic arena as demonstrated by the CNE (National Elections Commission) and STAE's (Technical Secretariat for Support of Elections) rigorous application that no individual with weapons, even PNTL (national Police) when exercising their democratic right to vote, are permitted to carry weapons in a polling station. This is not to malign the individual PNTL officers but is a standard of democracy. Not permitting weapons in a particular location in no way excludes the individual from exercising his or her democratic rights be it to vote or access to information.

I have worked in parliament's in other countries and it is unprecedented in a democracy to permit firearms, of whatever description, inside its legislative chamber and or national assembly. I repeat unprecedented. It is not justified in any circumstances, as Mr. Pereira is endeavoring to justify in his release.

This is not the first occasion on which I have raised my dissatisfaction and will persist because I aspire for a nation and community which is free of these destructive human inventions. I will applaud any efforts to control these weapons in our midst and did so when the de facto government undertook the amnesty on firearms.

As to my statements allegedly "only degrade our nation in the eyes of the international community and bring nothing of value to our people.

It does typify excessively unproductive behavior during the budget period, more of which unfortunately, we will see in coming weeks."

I reject this outright. The AMP de facto government would prefer to have a docile opposition that shies away from transparency and robust public debate. FRETILIN will use every legal and constitutional means (never resorting to violence) to air wherever we deem necessary that the AMP de facto government is taking Timor-Leste down a path that is detrimental to the aspirations of the people of Timor-Leste.

The international media who receive the FRETILIN.Media alerts and releases are those who write regularly about Timor-Leste and who report on it, including the self adulation of the de facto government. The de facto AMP government today controls the national television broadcaster and uses it to great effect. It has a number of highly paid advisors and consultants paid from the state budget. FRETILIN has its own lawful and legitimate resources to assist it in its media work.

As the member of government responsible for media development it is Mr. Pereira who is demonstrating a gross and slanted misunderstanding of media freedom.

FRETILIN will never act detrimentally to Timor-Leste's national interests or that of our people. We begun the struggle for our national independence and are not about to destroy it or denigrate, but will not allow its ill-governance and misadministration.

I am encouraged by the support I received from family and friends who serve in the National Police regarding the position I and Mr. Ximenes took. I only took my position also seconding FRETILIN MP David Ximenes, who raised the issue first. Mr. Ximenes was imprisoned arbitrarily by the Indonesian Military for 12 years and was tortured and pursued and persecuted. He expressed his trauma about weapons in the parliament, again not the individuals.

Jose Teixeira
FRETILIN MP
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