Malaysian, Australian and Portuguese Police Contingents Officially Join UNMIT Police

7 Jul 2008

Malaysian, Australian and Portuguese Police Contingents Officially Join UNMIT Police

14 September 2006, DILI— A ceremony for the official handing-over of executive policing authority from the International Police in Timor-Leste to the United Nations Police (UNPOL) took place yesterday in front of the Palácio do Governo in the capital city of Dili.

Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Sukehiro Hasegawa, Deputy SRSG Finn Reske-Nielsen, Police Commissioner Antero Lopes, members of the Government and National Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, UNPOL officers and UN officials also attended the ceremony.

Addressing the new UN police officers, SRSG Hasegawa said the guiding principle of the UN police is "the obligation to protect the Timorese people against acts of violence and to help rebuild their houses and institutions of governance, while fully respecting the sovereign state of Timor-Leste. We have the responsibility not only to protect but also to prevent." he said.

In a symbolic gesture, officers from Malaysia, Australia and Portuguese police contingents replaced their national berets with the UN blue berets bringing the official number of UN Police to 554. A small contingent of duly screened new recruits of the national police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) stood along side their international comrades.

Police Commissioner Antero Lopes, also addressed the new recruits. He said "Our mandate is to help the PNTL become a credible, effective police service according to the most demanding international standards adjusted to the context of Timor-Leste. During its reconstitution, our role is to perform law and order duties throughout the country in order to restore public authority and in order to regain the trust of the population in the police institution."

Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta thanked United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his "continuing love and care" for Timor-Leste. He told the inductees, "As you serve under the United Nations, not only will you bring more prestige to the UN, but you will bring more pride to your countries. So, you have a double responsibility, a double pride serving the international community and serving your respective countries in the cause of democracy, in the cause of peace in our country," He concluded by saying "With your help PNTL will be restored to its pride, to its professionalism."

UNMIT is expected to have also 25 New Zealand police officers along with another 209 UNPOL recruited from various countries in the next few weeks bringing the total of UN police close to 800 by the end of this month.

Among other duties, UNPOL will engage in reconstituting the Timorese National Police, starting in Dili . UNPOL is currently assisting in a vetting process of PNTL officers. Those who clear the initial screening will be further trained in Human Rights, Community-Policing and Incident Management, among other subjects, and will be gradually inducted back into PNTL to enroll in policing activities within mentorship programs administered by the UNPOL at various locations. They will also assist UNPOL in the important tasks of implementing community-oriented activities.

UNPOL is working in an integrated fashion with all UNMIT partners, including UN Agencies, Programs and Funds, and in close consultation with the Government of Timor-Leste as well as civil society. To support PNTL development and strengthening programs, UNPOL will establish partnerships with donors.

The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1704 on 25 August 2006 calling for a robust police presence consisting of 1,608 police personnel in addition to 34 military liaison and staff officers and an appropriate civilian component.

For additional information, please contact:
Donna Cusumano, Chief, Public Information Office, UNMIT; +670 723 0749