02 June 2013

Deputy Prime Minister Lasama confuses roles of military and police in law enforcement as violence continues in Dili



ETLJB 02 June 2013 - According to an English translation of a report by newspaper Independente, the Deputy Prime Minister of East Timor, Fernando Lasama Araujo, has appealed to both the police and military forces to arrest citizens who are the "masterminds" of crime in the country.

Independente apparently reported on 31 May that Lasama warned young people who wanted to engage in conflict in suburbs, especially in the capital of Dili, that both the police and the military will arrest those who are behind the problem.

“I am calling on F-FDTL and PNTL to capture people who want to create problems in the country,” Lasama said.

He added areas in which there is continuing violent conflict are the capital's suburbs of Comoro, Aimutin, Beto Barat, and Beto Tasi. He terefore called on the military (F-FDTL) and police (PNTL) to maintain security in these areas as it would impact the security situation in the capital of Dili.

On the same day, an English translation of a report by newspaper Suara Timor Loro Sae, Lasama was particularly referencing acts of violence which continued to happen in Comoro.

“To the young people who continue creating problems in the country, especially in the area of Comoro, the police should capture and knock them down as they always get involved in problems,” he said.

A personal account of a drive through Dili at night recounts what happened when two people were driving from their home to another house for a birthday party last Thursday 30 May, the day before the comments by Lasmama were reported.

According to this account, as they both drove towards Dili, and just as they passed the old Comoro bridge, they saw a huge number of kids throwing stones and carrying machetes chasing one another. The person stopped the vehicle they were in and gave signals to other vehicles behind to slow down and make a U- turn to avoid being stoned.

After returning home, kids were heard running up the street in which the person lived, dogs were "barking like crazy" and there were gunshots; the latter being probably from the police who had attended at the scene of the conflict.

Apart from the distressing incidents of violence involving young people on the streets of Dili at night and the problems this causes for security and safety, the calls from the country's leaders for the military to intervene are entirely inappropriate as they confuse the roles of the military and the police and this has grave implications for the constitutional rule of law in East Timor. For more analysis of this issue, please see the article by Bu Wilson on the East Timor Law Journal entitled Joint Command for PNTL & F-FDTL Undermines Rule of Law & Security Sector Reform in Timor-Leste Sources: Independente 31/05/2013, Suara Timor Lorosae 31 May 2013, TLMDC, a private anonymous source. Edited by Warren L. Wright

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