25 November 2009

10 Years of UNPOL in Timor-Leste: a Failure. Atul Khare in Charge: Farewell Mr. Khare.

Tempo Semanal
Dili, 24 November 2009

UNPOL then known as CivPOL first came to Timor-Leste to build Timorese police institutions during the UNTAET period from late 1999 until 20 May 2002. UNPOL continued to have executive policing responsibility for PNTL from 2002 until 20 May 2004. From 2004 it was responsible for mentoring PNTL until the institution for which is was responsible collapsed as a result of public disorder in April 2006.

From May 2002 until May 2004 now SRSG, Atul Khare, was Special Assistant and then Chief of Staff to the then SRSG for UNMISET Kamalesh Sharma. From May 2004 until May 2005 Mr. Khare was DSRSG for UNMISET with Mr. Hasegawa as SRSG. As a result of his failures in 2006 Hasegawa was replaced. In December 2006 Mr. Khare returned to Timor-Leste as the third choice of the UN to be the SRSG of UNMIT. After Ian Martin of the United Kingdom and Antonio Moreira of Cape Verde.

UNMIT costs approximately 200 million USD per year. UNPOL?s costs represent the largest single fraction of that overall cost. Salaries, vehicles, computers, rations, housing, helicopters, paper, pens, radios, uniforms, shipping, medals, and more medals. What value has the international community, the PNTL and the Timorese gotten for ten years of this pricey police project?

Third stringer Mr. Khare along with UNPOL bears the greatest responsibility for the UN to fail to build an effective and accountable police institution in Timor-Leste. We all remember UN Police Commissioners de Sousa, Miller, Peisley, Tor, and now Carillho. They have all also contributed to the almost total failure of the UN to properly establish and then reform, restructure and rebuild our national police service the PNTL.

Many Timorese worry that the future holds more problems when it comes to law and order in Timor-Leste. Factionalism is rampant with the PNTL ? perhaps even worse than it was before the Crisis, and likely as a result of wrongdoers not being punished but in actual fact promoted. Former PNTL commanders Martins, de Jesus and now Montiero either did not inspire confidence, or have yet to do so. Timorese have little confidence in the police ? this is partially the fault of the Timorese ? but largely the fault of the United Nations. As they have been in charge for 7.5 of the last ten years.

In a 2008/2009 an Asia Foundation survey found that those who sought PNTL assistance ?report being treated with minimal respect and professionalism (47%), in a verbally abusive manner (15%), and in a physically abusive manner (19%)?.

But lets revisit the UN role and that of the primary UN leader responsible for building the PNTL over the past 10 years, and man who has been intimately involved from May 2002 until May 2005 ? and now again from December 2006 until 11 December 2009 when Tempo Semanal understands that he leaves Timor-Leste. Mr. Khare.

On 25 August 2006 the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1704 in which it mandated UNMIT ?to assist with the further training, institutional development and strengthening of the PNTL?.

On 11 January 2008 UNPOL drafted a plan called the ?PNTL ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIC PLAN FOR REFORM, RESTRUCTURING AND REBUILDING?. It was never produced in a language that PNTL could read.

In a 24 November 2009 telephone interview with Fransisco Guterres Secretary of State for Security he said that this plan, ?drafted in New York, did not fit with the reality in Timor-Leste. They were trying to copy the plan that was designed for Kosovo and other places, which do not apply to the Timorese context. The UN Mission just wants to impose a model which we disagree with?.

Reform: UNPOL have presided over a reform process which has seen no reform. This is a clear fact. Timorese all know that 99% of the police officers who committed crimes before, during and after the 2006 Crisis remain in the PNTL ? and in many cases have been promoted. This is clear to all Timorese, it is a dinner table fact. Just as UNPOL are never punished for their crimes, nor are PNTL officers. In March 2007 Mr. Khare wrote a letter to the Government complaining about the promotion of Inspectors Delfim da Silva and Jorge Monteiro ? as they had failed to pass the integrity-screening process. Khare was ignored and has remained mute on the subject since. Ignoring his UN Security Council mandate. The Inspectors in question are now in positions of power in the PNTL, along with, as we all know many many others in similar situations.

Restructuring: In 2004 the then Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato, with the permission of then Prime Minister Alkatiri, and the acquiescence of the then DSRSG Khare armed a series of special police units (the UPF, UIR and UPR) with hundreds of semi automatic police rifles. This concerned many people at the time. These people had a right to be afraid, as these weapons were then used extremely irresponsibly in 2006. After the 2006 crisis virtually the whole country was of the opinion that these weapons did not contribute to building a ?community oriented? police service, but were militarizing the police ? confusing the military and threatening the population. Since 2006 the UN has done little if anything to try and convince the police leadership to rid themselves of many of these weapons. Mr. Khare has apparently never publically expressed a direct opinion in favour of limiting these weapons. Perhaps Mr. Khare either agrees with the policy, or is too scared to have a public opinion on the matter. Either way we do not know as he does not speak of such things.

Tempo Semanal sources inform this newspaper that the current leadership of the PNTL has been exploring further weapons purchases from armaments suppliers in Java. Perhaps the same suppliers that the riot control water cannon were procured from in April this year. Is this community policing? What is Khare?s opinion? We do not know as he does not seem to express opinions on these subjects. Preferring to remain mute until he leaves. (as he did in the recent Bere case as well). Perhaps after the next crisis for which he will bear responsibility for such as the last one he will return as a highly paid SRSG once again?

Rebuild: The PNTL institution remains weak not only because of internal factionalism caused by a failure to punish those who have committed crimes but also because its facilities and support systems remain of extremely poor quality. A recent Government / UNMIT assessment of PNTL found that only, according to Tempo Semanal sources, a few districts were ready for handover, despite 10 years of UN Police assistance. A lack of working vehicles, communications systems, and other support material are almost wholly lacking to most districts. UNMIT, UNPOL, and Mr. Khare have failed to rebuild PNTL once again.

On 26 February 2009 in UN Security Council mandated UNMIT support ?the gradual resumption of policing responsibilities by the PNTL beginning in 2009 through a phased approach, while emphasizing that the PNTL must meet the criteria mutually agreed between the Government of Timor-Leste and UNMIT as set out in paragraph 21 of the report of the Secretary-General to guarantee the PNTL?s readiness for the resumption of such responsibilities in any given district or unit, and requests the Government of Timor-Leste and UNMIT to cooperate with each other to implement the resumption process, and requests UNMIT to continue to ensure, through the presence of UNMIT police component and the provision of support to the PNTL, the maintenance of public security in Timor-Leste, which includes interim law enforcement and public security until the PNTL is fully reconstituted.?

Recent media reports quote Mr. Khare as saying that UNMIT UNPOL will begin to downsize in 2010. But only 3 districts are ready in 2009? Perhaps it does not matter, as he will not be here to bear responsibility for the obvious failure to handover when districts are without adequate cars and communications systems.

A senior source within UNMIT told Tempo Semanal in recent days that ?he feels UNMIT has largely failed in achieving its mandate, especially in regard to the reform, restructure and rebuilding of the PNTL?.

David Ximenes, former Head of CNRT Clandestine network, and Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs under the FRETILIN Government, and now Member of Parliament and its Committee B for National Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs told Tempo Semanal on 24 November 2009, ?Mr. Khare did not achieve the mandate given to him by the Security Council Resolution 1704?. With regards to the reform, restructuring and rebuilding of the PNTL Ximenes told Tempo Semanal that ?he does not know what they have done?. ?From what I see UNMIT is not doing their work.? He added that, "its just the same faces from last time".

Tempo Semanal has obtained a copy of a recent confidential report written for the UN titled ?The UNPOL to PNTL ?handover? 2009: what exactly is being handed over?? by the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum in New York dated 2 October 2009 written by respected PNTL scholar Bu Wilson and Nelson Belo of Fundasaun Mahein a local NGO. In this report they state that,

?Many leaders in Timor-Leste...have criticized the presence of international ? police. These criticisms have come from the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Security and the Secretary of State for Defence, the Chief of Staff of the F-FDTL, as well as the current and former PNTL Commander General. These sentiments are also echoed by opposition parties. Recent examples include a blog by the Secretary of State for Defence, highly critical of UNMIT and UNPOL?. and a comment in one of the daily newspapers by PNTL Commander General that translates as ?the majority of UNPOL lack capacity?.

This report concludes: ?Although the situation in Timor-Leste is currently calm and the ?handover? is proceeding without incident it can not be concluded that the PNTL have been reformed in any meaningful way. The handover of districts will become increasingly more difficult ? as more ?problematic? districts need to be considered. Given the poor relationship between UNMIT/government of Timor-Leste and UNPOL/PNTL.... it is unlikely that delaying handover would have improved PNTL reform prospects.?

Further the above report states that ?It also appears that many of the serious shortcomings of both UNPOL and PNTL, identified by [a] UN expert policing mission in 2008, have not been addressed. The question needs to be asked why these recommendations have not been heeded by the UNMIT mission.? Tempo Semanal?s various sources suggest that Mr. Khare holds ultimate responsibility on the ground for this failure.

Tempo Semanal sources say that Khare will be replaced by UN Mission Sudan DSRSG Ameera Haq, and that he has a strong likelihood of becoming SRSG of the UN Mission in Sudan. The President of Sudan is wanted for war crimes, much like ex-militia Martenus Bere is. UNPOL, UNMIT, and Khare let Bere go despite an executive mission. Sudanese no doubt will find this of interest.

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