11 September 2010

Organized Crime in Timor-Leste

Fundasaun Mahein 19 August 2010 Press Release Organized Crime in Timor-Leste - Weekly News Paper, Tempo Semanal recently (August 13, 2010) wrote an article about the two Indonesian citizens arrested for selling illegal drugs in Timor-Leste. Both suspects are currently under judicial investigation. This case indicates that organized crime is presently operating in Timor-Leste.

Organized crimes are illegal activities (or crimes) committed by individuals and/or organizations with intelligence and with financial capital involving illegal transactions with a high level of sophistication. They include, among others, human trafficking, widespread criminal activities, illegal electronic transactions, prostitution, money laundering, drug smuggling, and terrorism, and controlling groups of professional thieves, stealing of vehicles, assault, extortion rackets, etc.

Organized crime normally occurs in places where their benefactors can secure lots of material and financial gains. In 2010 Timor-Leste’s State budget ratification amount was USD 837.981.000 million in addition to several different financial packages for development projects such as the Referendum and Desentralization Development packages. The large amount of the State budget has the potential to attract organized crime and hence may make Timor-Leste a breeding ground where organized crime can thrive. Seeing the large amount of cash flow, might increase organized crime in Timor-Leste.

On the other side, it is also estimated that the absence of an integrated security system, only recently established with the Border Pass scheme launched between the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia, may have contributed to (and paved the way) for  organized crimes in Timor-Leste.

According to  Fundasaun Mahein (FM), it is observed that many organized crimes have taken place in Timor-Leste in the form of human trafficking, prostitution, and drug-dealing. These crimes have occurred and gradually increased, since the approval of the 2008 State budget until this present.
In October 8, 2008- the RDTL Council of Ministers, approved a number of decree laws such as the Decree Law on Private Investment, Social Competition, and Diploma on the Pricing of Consumables.  All of these decree laws prohibit crimes such as the illegal transfer of money, drug-dealing, and money laundering.

FM  believes that the operation of organized crimes in Timor-Leste undermines goverment authority because of the threat it poses to public security.  The unsettled organized crime issue, will also hamper the development process in Timor-Leste. It is also the opinion of Fundasaun Mahein that the decree laws passed by Timor-Leste government remain insufficient in dealing with organized crime currently involved in Timor-Leste.

Therefore, it is at the recommendation of Fundasaun Mahein that the government conducts a thorough investigation, auditing all national and international companies operating in Timor-Leste which are believed to have potentially been involved in human trafficking, illegal transactions and other crimes as mentioned above. This also involves an oversight of the activities of foreign workers in Timor-Leste, conducting background-checks of the foreign workers travelling in to, and out of Timor-Leste as well as the background of the organizations with which they work.

FM also recommends the government creates an integrated system of security along the border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia; a process which involves not only the officials of the border control in both countries, but also the community leaders living along the frontiers of both countries. A system must be established to share and transfer data and information as to the potential suspects of organized crimes that might be operating in both countries. As part of this effort, the government should ensure that those involved, not only receive efficient support, and decent wages, but also have a proper oversight mechanism.  These actions will help prevent organized crime groups from corrupting and infiltrating the system meant to counteract their activities, by way of their access to large amounts of cash.  Furthermore, it is also recommended that the government of Timor-Leste carefully identify those using Border Passes and Passports, to ensure the credibility of their documents and prevent the entry of individuals with falsified documents in to, and out of Timor-Leste.

Finally, it is also at the recommendation of FM that the Timor-Leste government should work with international banks such as ANZ, Bank Mandiri, and Bank Nacional Ultramarino to create an administrative security system preventing the practice of money laundering by those involved in organized crime.

For further information please contact Nélson Belo, Director Fundasaun Mahein www.fundasaunmahein.wordpress.com email: direktor.mahein[at]gmail.com , tlp +670 737 4222
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