02 April 2011

Joint press release from the Government of Timor-Leste and UNMIT: National police resume responsibility in Timor-Leste

Government of Timor-Leste United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste For immediate release National police resume responsibility in Timor-Leste

27 March 2011, Dili – The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Lestee (UNMIT) today handed over policing responsibility from the UN police to the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) at a ceremony celebrating the 11th anniversary of the PNTL at the Palacio do Governo in Dili.  Starting on Monday 28 March 2011 the PNTL will be responsible for policing throughout Timor-Leste, with the UN police (UNPOL) in a supporting role.

"The United Nations assumed authority for policing at the request of the Government of Timor-Leste in 2006 after a period of instability" said Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. "Today, I am delighted to announce that PNTL is resuming this important responsibility for maintaining law and order in Timor-Leste.  I congratulate General Commander Longuinhos Monteiro and all PNTL officers for this achievement. I extend my thanks to the United Nations and the international community for its assistance in strengthening our nation's policing capabilities."

PNTL started resuming policing responsibilities almost two years ago in the district of Lautém. Since then, PNTL has resumed command in nearly all districts and units with no increases in crime rates or public order incidents.

"PNTL and UNMIT have worked together for more than four years to rebuild and develop PNTL's abilities to maintain the rule of law in Timor-Leste, the youngest nation in Asia," said Ameerah Haq, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the head of the UN's mission in Timor-Leste.  "We will continue to work side-by-side. However, PNTL will be squarely in the driver's seat, and the UN will focus on providing the training and support Timor-Leste's police service needs to further strengthen its capabilities over the long term."

"The resumption of policing responsibility by PNTL at this time has the advantage of enabling PNTL to assume its role before next year's elections and well before the anticipated withdrawal of the UN's mission at the end of 2012," said Haq.

The UN will maintain a police presence of up to 1,280 personnel to support the PNTL until after the elections of 2012, when UNMIT is planning to withdraw from Timor-Leste.

"President Ramos-Horta and I are working together with SRSG Haq to plan the withdrawal of the UN's peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste," said Gusmao. "Our High-Level Committee on transition will receive regular reports on PNTL's progress to ensure that we are building the strength of our national police service through a Joint Development Plan.

For more information, photographs, video and sound, please contact: Gyorgy Kakuk, UNMIT Spokesperson Phone +6707230749 email: kakukg@un.org

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