07 September 2012

Tension between security institutions and community flares

Family members of the man, Maksimo Amaral, beaten by soldiers
ETLJB 07/09/2012 - Tensions between the East Timorese community and the military and the police have flared again in a recent brutal attack on a civilian by the son of the East Timor Defence Force Commander's son and four soldiers last Tuesday night (4/9) at a bar in the capital Dili.

According to a report in Timor Post yesterday, the five military members beat a guard at the My Flower bar in Dili because he took too long to open the gate and allow them to drive in to the parking area at the bar.

Security sector monitoring civil society organisation, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), says that this is the latest in a series of assaults on civilians by both the East Timor police and members of the country's military force. FM  fears that this will lead to increased violence against the police and the military. There has been a series of unsolved killings of soldiers over the past year.

According to FM, the F-FDTL Commander's son also referred to the names of state leaders who are his relatives to threaten people who were present at the bar when the violent attack occurred. Such behavior only exacerbates the situation and creates a time bomb for future explosions of violence.

The illegal assaults of citizens by the security forces is a flagrant violation of the rule of law and will cause the community to lose confidence in the police and military which will generate even more resistance towards them from the people.

Despite an enormous investment in training of the police and the military personnel and expenditure on facilities and equipment by the government and other nations such as Australia and Portugal, the desired result of disciplined and professional policing and military operations has not been achieved.

Every one should be concerned about these events. FM has urged the government to create stricter oversight and auditing of the police and the military and that training programs prioritise non-lethal methods of managing security problems such as crowd control. FM has also urged the National Parliament Committee B to function fully as a civilian oversight commission that can receive and respond aggressively to public complaints. Finally, FM expressed the view that the perpetrators of violence by the police and military be prosecuted in the criminal courts rather than subject to mere internal disciplinary proceedings.

Related stories:
Autopsy shows soldier killed with hammer and iron bar by relatives not stones
Investigation in stoning death of soldier begins
Soldier stoned to death in Timor-Leste
Soldier's body found on Dili beach 

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