15 December 2009

UNMIT: Timor-Leste commits to police accountability; resumption in Viqueque

UNMIT PRESS RELEASE Timor-Leste commits to police accountability; resumption in Viqueque

5 December 2009, Dili ? Today the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Timor-Leste (SRSG) Atul Khare and Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres presided over the ceremony marking the resumption of primary responsibility for the conduct of police operations by the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) in the District of Viqueque.

Viqueque is the fourth district in which the PNTL has resumed primary policing responsibility since the resumption process started in May 2009, when primary policing responsibility was transferred to the PNTL in the district of Lautem. This process continued in the districts of Oecussi in June, Manatuto in July, and was followed by the transfer of responsibility for the administration and management of the Police Training Centre in September.

In his speech at the resumption ceremony SRSG Khare highlighted the importance of police accountability. "Achievement of final certification is an indicator but not a guarantee of proper behaviour in the future. The long-term accountability and integrity of the PNTL in the future will only be guaranteed through timely, effective and fair application of the penal code and PNTL disciplinary code," the SRSG said.

He stressed the importance of the Government's recent commitment to take and support necessary instigative measures against PNTL officers accused of violations of the penal and police disciplinary codes, and to take appropriate punitive measures against those found in breach, no matter their rank and even if they have been certified. ???I am sure that this commitment will be welcomed by the vast majority of PNTL who everyday strive to live up to their oath of service ? to stricttly abide by the rule of law, to respect and protect human rights, to ensure the democratic order, and to serve in an impartial manner" ? the SRSG added.

The Government of Timor-Leste and UNMIT are implementing the resumption process in a gradual manner 'district by district, unit by unit'. ;The decision for the PNTL in Viqueque to resume primary policing responsibility was based on the result of rigorous assessments on the preparedness of PNTL. The assessments were conducted by joint teams comprising representatives of the Government of Timor-Leste and UNMIT, including PNTL and the United Nations Police (UNPol), using mutually agreed criteria.

UN Police will maintain their presence in the districts where the PNTL have resumed responsibility, in order to support, advise, and to monitor the PNTL, in areas such as community policing and human rights protection.

Viqueque is one of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste, located in the eastern-southern part of the country, 183 km from Dili, the national capital. Viqueque City is the capital of the District of Viqueque, with five sub-districts under its control. The City has a population of 22,000, the District approximately 62,000.

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