27 August 2012

Civil society concerned about soldiers' deaths

F-FDTL march with FALINTIL flag
East Timor Legal News 27 August 2012 ETLJB - Following the latest killing of an East Timor Defence Force soldier in Dili, peak security sector monitoring civil society organsiation, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), has expressed concern about the number of killings of off-duty military personnel during 2012 which it cites as between 4 - 5.
FM says that this is a continuation of a spate of armed forces soldier killings that have occurred over the last few years.

All of the murdered soldiers killed this year were off duty and it is not known whether the murders are the result of targeted attacks against military personnel, the private issues of individual soldiers or both.

FM is concerned about those Timorese responsible for the killings which raises the issue of disrespect for the country's military institutions. If civilians distrust the F-FDTL institution, the F-FDTL institution cannot function.

FM is also concerned about the F-FDTL soldiers themselves and why they put themselves in unsafe situations even while off-duty. According to FM, this behavior puts at risk the integrity of the entire institution of F-FDTL and soldiers should remember that the reputation of the military institutions depends on each and every soldier.

"Military soldiers should remember that once they join the military, they are associated with F-FDTL for the entire period of their service. During this period the soldiers are identified with the F-FDTL while on-duty and off-duty. In turn, the reputation of F-FDTL institution depends on each soldier."

So long as military personnel die while they are off-duty, FM recommended to the F-FDTL Command to institute tighter rules with more rigid discipline and to create military compounds where soldiers’ families and relatives can stay together.

FM also recommended that all soldiers not involve themselves in private conflicts and disputes. FM says that "they are part of the formal channel of conflict resolution on the national level and need to encourage other formal channels at the local level, such as with the PNTL to enable peaceful resolutions of civil disputes and avoid off-duty deaths of F-FDTL soldiers. It will also boost the reputation of the F-FDTL by further legitimizing formal channels of conflict resolution.:

Finally, the police should conduct investigations and determine why these F-FDTL killings occurred, with political consequences against those behind the killings.

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