31 August 2011

President calls for police to use force

President Jose Ramos Horta
East Timor Legal News 29 /08/2010 Source: Televizaun Timor-Leste - President Jose Ramos Horta has called on the Timorese National Police (PNTL) to use force when responding to any act of violence in the country.

The president made the comments regarding several outbreaks of violence which have recently happened in the territory of Timor-Leste.

Horta said the police should use force to respond to the situation if certain groups continue creating instability in the country. "If any certain groups breach the law and public order, the police will get instruction to use force.

If martial art clubs create problems, it is the responsibility of the police to use force which is based on the law to resolve such situation," he said.

ETLJB Editor's Note: Words unbecoming of a Nobel peace prize recipient. Rather, the President should be calling on the government to initiate a dialogue with the affected communities through mediation, consultation and peaceful processes and to participatively develop policies aimed at resolving the social problems that cause this violence.

The President himself should be visiting those communities and convening meetings with the customary leaders and the youth who participate in the violence; to hear the grievances and woes that underlie the instability.

The police should be deployed to only to maintain order during these phases; not to unleash deadly force only after the conflicts that have erupted into death and destruction have been long neglected by the government.

Violence begets violence; just as the violence deployed by the Indonesian imperialists in East Timor begot the violent independence struggle.

Giving a Presidential nod to the use of violence by the police against citizens could dangerously incite police officers to resort to violent responses and, given the history of human rights violations by the East Timor police, none of this bodes well for the civil peace.

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