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15 November 2008

East Timor President: Number of Weapons Unaccounted for Has Clearly Diminished in Recent Years

President of the Republic
PRESS RELEASE NOVEMBER 14, 2008


THE NUMBER OF WEAPONS UNACCOUNTED FOR HAS CLEARLY DIMINISHED IN RECENT YEARS IN TIMOR-LESTE


The Office of the President categorically dismisses the allegations in a report according to which “the number of weapons in civilian hands has increased in recent years”.

The allegation, cited and conveyed by IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is unfounded and denied by successive credible and independent evaluations by observers, diplomats and UNPOL high-ranking officers, since 2006 until today.

By invitation of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the I Constitutional Government, the now President, José Ramos-Horta, a group of international observers was created in 2006, comprising diplomatic and military attachés from several countries, including ISF specialists. This group visited all locations of its choice to monitor and count Timor-Leste’s defence and security forces weaponry.

The observers presented their conclusions, stating that Timor-Leste Defence Forces’ weapons had been completely recovered and were kept in proper locations. Regarding police weaponry, a small number of weapons were still unaccounted for.

In October 2008, a monitoring survey conducted by UNPOL, concluded that PNTL’s weapons that are unaccounted for are 15 9mm pistols and 3 sub-machine guns.

On the other hand, a successful initiative by the Government of Timor-Leste for recovery of weapons resulted in the spontaneous surrender of more than 200 artisanal weapons and thousands of ammunition to the authorities.

These facts lead to the legitimate conclusion that in recent years, the number of weapons in civilian hands has clearly diminished and are at this point residual, with voluntary collaboration of the population in weapons recovery initiatives.

The good outcome of the governmental initiative is acknowledged in the report disclosed by IRIN. However, incomprehensibly, the document chooses to speculate on scenarios not based on actual fact, instead of concluding in a balanced and objective manner that the evolution of weapons status in our country indicates a real and significant improvement in Security.

The analysis of the cited report is therefore stained by the alarming, unfounded and light nature of its conclusions. – END


Image: East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta.

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