A new child-friendly interviewing room, where trained police officers can provide a safe and welcoming environment for women and youngsters, opened in Baucau on 28 October. It is the third such room to be opened in Timor-Leste by the Vulnerable Persons Unit (VPU), a team of specialist officers from the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and UNPol who have been trained in children’s rights and child-friendly investigation techniques.
UNMIT’s Senior Gender Advisor, Rita Reddy, who represented the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste at the opening, said the effort was a very good example of the collaboration and coordination between UN Agencies, UNPol, and PNTL under the integrated UN mission. “It signifies a joint effort to provide assistance and support to women and children who are victims of gender based violence such as domestic violence and sexual assault,” she said.
The rights of children and women and gender-based violence continue to be a high priority for the UN mission in Timor-Leste. Together with the Vulnerable Persons Unit, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNFPA are helping the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Ministry of Health to strengthen services for victims of abuse and gender-based violence. UNMIT’s Administration of Justice Support Section is advising the mission and the Government on reforms of the judicial and legal system and services. In addition, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the Interagency Counter-Trafficking Working Group, chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
The VPU is dedicated to providing victim-focused investigation and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse, involving both adults and children. It provides support and assistance to victims and their families and works in partnership with local victim support services and NGOs. VPU rooms have now been opened in three of Timor-Leste’s 13 districts: Dili, Liquiça, and Baucau.