Dili, 29 March 2010 – The Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) celebrated its tenth anniversary over the weekend with major parades and activities in the capital Dili. Established on 27 March 2000 by the then UN transitional administration, amidst the ashes of the post-ballot violence after the people of Timor-Leste voted from independence, the national police service is now one of the oldest institutions in this young democracy.
State and Government dignitaries attended the parade in front of the Government headquarters in the city's pictaresque waterfront. Ameerah Haq, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Timor-Leste, led the UN delegation at the ceremony which also included Acting Police Commissioner Idris Ibrahim. President José Ramos-Horta, the head of State, attended, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão
delivered the keynote address.
Prime Minister Gusmão highlighted the achievements of PNTL over the past year, under the leadership of new General Commander Longhinous Monteiro. Focusing on the significance of reform to strengthen PNTL, Gusmão pointed to the development of a legal framework and the recent completion of a merit-based promotion process for the entire police service which saw 2,795 officers from a total of 3,177 being eligible for promotion.
"PNTL have the characteristics of a community police in terms of strategy and philosophy," said Gusmão. "This means that a police member must be well integrated in the local community...in permanent contact with the populations that he is responsible to keep safe."
SRSG Ameerah Haq presented promotion awards to PNTL officers during the ceremony. President Ramos-Horta praised the commitment and work of UN Police Officers in his address
The UN peacekeeping mission continues to have executive authority for policing in the young democracy, following the 2006 security crisis – but significant progress has been made in the past 12 months toward the national police resuming this responsibility. Prime Minister Gusmão pointed to the aim of completing the resumption process by the end of 2010.
PNTL has so far resumed primary policing responsibilities in four out of 13 districts - Lautem, Oecussi, Manatuto and Viqueque –as well as in three individual units, the Police Training Centre, Maritime Unit and Police Intelligence Service. Three further districts are ready for handover in coming weeks.
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste currently has 1,492 UN Police, from 38 countries.