20 October 2010

UN raises worries over Timor police

October 20, 2010 - 3:29AM AFP - UN Security Council members and a special envoy have expressed concern over policing in East Timor and some decisions by President Jose Ramos-Horta.

The United Nations has been seeking to wind down its peacekeeping mission in East Timor, where international troops and police were sent after major unrest in 2006. It will help the government gear up for elections in 2012.

UN special representative for East Timor, Ameerah Haq, on Tuesday praised the general stability in the southeast Asian state but raised concerns about policing and the commuting of prison terms for some involved in the unrest.

"Public confidence in the state's willingness to support the rule of law and human rights can be adversely affected if the public perceives that individuals in high profile cases are given favoured treatment," she told the Security Council.

Haq said she raised the "concern" with Ramos-Horta after he lifted jail terms against those convicted for February 11, 2008 attacks against him and the prime minister, and some soldiers convicted for killing eight police officers in the 2006 troubles.

She added that she was "troubled" that three soldiers involved in the 2006 killings "appear to have resumed work".

"I hope that future such decisions are guided by the need to bolster the public's confidence in a system that ensures accountability for criminal acts," she said.

France's representative, Martin Briens, said the pardons "did not send a good signal."

And US representative to the council, Brooke Anderson, raised concerns about the police. She said "the excessive use of force and lack of accountability" remain a concern.

The UN mission, UNMIT, has been slowly handing over security responsibilities to the local police and security forces. But Haq said there were still more than 200 police without proper certification in Timor, many of them in the capital Dili.

She said the "slow action" by the Timorese authorities was "detrimental to the overall integrity of the police service over the long term and requires expeditious remedy."

Haq said East Timor "is entering a crucial period, one which will help determine whether it has overcome in a sustainable manner the political and institutional weaknesses which contributed to the events of 2006."

© 2010 AFP

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