28 February 2011

UN critical of East Timor's police force

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The United Nations has raised concerns about the credibility of East Timor's police force. The UN this week extended its mission in the fledging nation. But it also questioned why East Timor's government has allowed into its police force more than 50 officers facing charges.

Sarah Hawke reports.

SARAH HAWKE: The United Nations has about 1500 police from 40 countries in East Timor. Their main role is to help build the capacity of the local force known as the National Police of Timor Leste or NPTL. The UN mission spokesman Gyorgy Kakuk says the young force has made significant progress.

GYORGY KAKUK: The country has 13 districts and out of these 13 districts the Timorese police resumed policing responsibilities in 10. And from those districts there are no news, nothing.

SARAH HAWKE: While the UN has highlighted the success of the NPTL in curbing crime, it has raised concerns. The government certified 52 officers who face serious criminal and disciplinary charges.

The UN didn't elaborate on the charges although one UN report discusses a letter sent to the prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, earlier this month in which he'd urged the government to take measures to quickly resolve cases involving suspicions of human rights violations and criminal conduct.

Mission spokesman Gyorgy Kakuk says he's confident the government wants to deal with the issue.

GYORGY KAKUK: We raised this with the Timorese leadership and we got the promises that they are going to deal with this. I don't know, you know, how many of these 50-something cases are serious but we got promises that they will deal with these issues.

SARAH HAWKE: Are you confident that will be achieved?

GYORGY KAKUK: Um, yes. This issue being raised in front of the Security Council and we have to wait you know and see how it is going to work out.

SARAH HAWKE: The UN says that these outstanding charges must be dealt with to ensure the credibility and integrity of the national police force.

The UN mandate is also seeking a stronger commitment from East Timor's government to deal with outstanding cases following the violence that gripped the country in 2006.

GYORGY KAKUK: You know there were crimes committed during the 2006 crisis and those cases have to be you know addressed properly according to the rule of law.

SARAH HAWKE: No timeframe has been set on how much longer the UN will stay in East Timor although this week's mandate will ensure its officers are on the ground to support next year's elections.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Sarah Hawke with that report.

Sarah Hawke reported this story on Saturday, February 26, 2011 08:04:00
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