ETLJB 18 May 2013 - The Deputy Commander of the East Timor Defence Force (F-FDTL), Brigadier General Filomeno Paixao, was reported by Radio Timor Leste on 16 May as saying that he refused to conduct operations against groups acting illegally in remote areas to extort money from the people.
Paixao said F-FDTL would not hold operations against these illegal groups because it was a responsibility of the Timorese National Police (PNTL) and the law prohibits the military from conducting such operation in the country.
“F-FDTL only holds operations when the police request the support from the military because it is against the law for the military to [enforce the criminal laws],” Paixao said.
He added that PNTL would continue building cooperation with F-FDTL to guarantee security in the country.
ETLJB welcomes this statement from the military in East Timor as consistent with the constitutional separation of the roles of the police and the military forces in a democratic society. In the past, the government has wrongfully deployed the military to intervene in matters of law enforcement that should properly be undertaken only by the police force and those interventions have compromised democratic principles and adversely affected the rule of law. See further, for example, 2008 ETLJ 2 Joint Command for PNTL and F-FDTL Undermines Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform in Timor-Leste (Draft) Bu V. E. Wilson B Sc Env Sci (Hons) LLM 19 February 2008. Source: Radio Timor-Leste 16 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright