FIRST BATCH OF TIMOR-LESTE POLICE BACK ON DUTY IN DILI UNDER UN MENTORING SCHEME
27 September 2006, DILI — A first group of twenty-five members of the Policia Nacional de Timor Leste (PNTL) has this week resumed duty under a mentoring scheme being run by the United Nations Police (UNPol).
Eighteen of the 25 have been assigned to general patrol duties, a further five have been assigned to the Dili detention centre, and the remaining two are working in the UNPol communications room, all in co-location with UNPol.
"The return to duty of these police in the capital is a crucial step in restoring Timorese public authority and ensuring law and order to the streets of Dili and the whole country," said Antero Lopes, Acting Police Commissioner for the new United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
In advance of their deployment, the 25 PNTL members were briefed by UNPol mentors with whom they are working over the coming weeks. The briefing explained the programme and provided details of placements.
Timor Leste's police were relieved of duties following the violence of April and May this year, in which military and police factions were involved.
The 25 PNTL to have resumed duty are participating in an ongoing screening process that began in early September with a call to registration by the Ministry of Interior. Approximately 900 Dili-based PNTL members have registered for screening – a prerequisite to returning to work. The programme is to be implemented in outlying districts later.
The preliminary screening is being done by UNPol, in collaboration with the Government of Timor-Leste, based on records from the Prosecutor's Office, the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice, PNTL personnel files, the PNTL Professional Ethics Office, the UNMIT Human Rights Office, UNPol and human rights and other NGOs.
Any officer found to have had a complaint lodged against him is subject to UNPol investigation and/or criminal investigation by the Prosecutor's Office. If there are no complaints, or if complaints are found to be invalid, recommendations are made to the Minister of Interior and the officer is then eligible to begin the six-week training and mentoring programme that includes five days of an intensive refresher course at the Police Academy followed by five weeks of on-the-job mentoring. During this time officers are evaluated on a daily basis, and complaints against them can continue to be received. No PNTL officer may carry firearms during mentoring.
The five-day training programme at the Police Academy is facilitated by the Timor-Leste Police Development Programme, a joint Australian and British project in collaboration with the Timorese Government and the UNPol. The placement of the initial 25 PNTL this week differs slightly from the regular programme in that they will undertake the five-day Police Academy refresher course at the end of the mentoring period.
For additional information, please contact:
Adrian Edwards, Acting Chief, Public Information Office, UNMIT; +670 723 0453 or Donna Cusumano, Spokesperson at +670 723 0749