04 November 2008

Secretary of State for Security for Timor-Leste Prepares for Fretilin Demonstrations

MediaNet Press Release Wire 8 October 2008 - Dili, October 8, The Secretary of State for Security for Timor-Leste, Dr. Francisco Guterres, announced today that all necessary and preventative measures are being implemented in Dili to ensure any upcoming Fretilin demonstrations can proceed without incident.

Guterres pointed out "Our role, and that of the police force (PNTL), is to ensure we have established the necessary conditions for public assembly; protecting both the demonstrators right to safely gather, while protecting civil society from any potential threats that might occur.'

'There are clearly defined rules and regulations within the laws of Timor-Leste, in particular Decree Law 1/2006, which, if followed, contributes to safe and successful public gatherings. I am confident that if all regulations are followed by organizers, the demonstrations will be managed successfully."

Under the Decree Law, Fretilin will have to apply in writing within four (4) working days of the intended demonstrations, and include time, location, route and intended purpose of the demonstration. The application must also include full disclosure of five (5) organizers.

The law also clearly states "Assemblies or demonstrations organised in public places, or in places open to the public, can be interrupted by an order to disperse issued by the police authority if it is realised that the initial objective of the assembly or demonstration was shifted by actions that are contrary to the law or that violate the restrictions provided for in Article 5".

Article 5 states that the demonstrations must be held within one hundred (100) meters from public buildings. Demonstrations can only be held between the hours of 8:00 am to 6:30 pm. Any demonstrator found with firearms or weapons will be charged with the crime of illegal possession of weapons, which is punishable under Section 4.4 of UNTAET Regulation No. 5/2001.

Any demonstrator who engages in unlawful behavior or acts that are deemed an imminent threat to society at large will be arrested immediately, public warnings are issued as PNTL protocol.

Guterres also confirmed that the GNR has been providing expert training to PNTL officers on maintaining public safety during demonstrations. Forty five (45) PNTL officers will graduate as instructors from the academy on October 10, with another 155 to be trained over four consecutive courses this year on the UIR compound.

Guterres stated, "We have made significant reforms to the PNTL, with an emphasis on professionalizing and depoliticizing the force, increasing wage structures, implementing an international ranking system for advancement of officers while providing expert training and education on a range of activities to ensure best practice public safety management.

'We also have the unwavering support of the 2600 troops on the ground between UNPOL and ISF. We can be confident that we are all working to strengthen and stabilize our security sector to ensure we maintain the current level of peace. "

Dr. Guterres, who is an independent and not affiliated with a political party in Timor-Leste, was handpicked by the Prime Minister, His Excellency Xanana Gusmao to spearhead mass reforms to the security sector. ENDS

For More Information Contact: Secretary of State for Security, Dr. Francisco Guterres on +670 723 0038

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