Timor Leste: UN-trained national police to take up their beats 27 March 2009 – The first areas of Timor-Leste to be policed by national squadrons since the violent clashes that shook the fledgling nation in 2006 have been chosen, the Government and the United Nations mission in the country (UNMIT) announced today.
The resumption of responsibilities by the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) represents a significant stride for the country in its quest for stability, according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative and head of UNMIT Atul Khare.
“Timor-Leste has taken major steps in the past 12 months towards restoring stability. PNTL beginning to resume full responsibility for policing is a further step in the efforts to ensure that this stability is sustainable over the long term,” he said in a joint announcement with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão.
The resumption of PNTL policing in the district of Lautém, followed by Manatuto, now awaits completion of a procedural agreement between the Government and UNMIT and other final considerations.
Assessments for the transition have also been completed in other districts, which were found to “require improvements,” UNMIT said, before they can be declared ready for resumption, after which the remaining districts will be assessed according to agreed criteria.
Prime Minister Gusmão congratulated the PNTL, which marks its ninth anniversary today, and asked all district authorities to create conducive conditions for the transition, including adequate facilities and logistical provisions.
UNMIT was sent in to help stabilize the country and provide intensified police re-training in late April 2006, after fighting – attributed to differences between eastern and western regions – erupted following the firing of 600 striking soldiers, or one-third of the armed forces.
Ensuing violence claimed dozens of lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.
In UNMIT’s most recent mandate extension, the Security Council supported the phased transfer of policing responsibilities now performed by UNMIT to the PNTL beginning in 2009, stressing however that the police must first meet all required criteria.
UN Police will remain in the districts where the PNTL has resumed responsibilities to provide advice and monitoring, particularly in the area of human rights protection.