The UN and the Timorese Government formalise policing arrangements

7 Jul 2008

The UN and the Timorese Government formalise policing arrangements

01 December 2006, Dili—In a first ever such arrangement between a sovereign nation and the UN, the Timorese Government and the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) today agreed that UNMIT would have prime responsibility for police operations throughout Timor-Leste.

The agreement, known as the Police Supplemental Arrangement, details the operational arrangements and command and control procedures through which UNPol will take on responsibility as the interim law enforcement body. Its signing coincides with this morning's ceremony in the nation's capital Dili for the inauguration of the UNPOL-PNTL joint headquarters.

"UNMIT is delighted with the signing of this document, which provides the men and women of UNPol with an appropriate legal framework to continue doing their job," said Eric Tan Huck Gim the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Security Sector Reform Rule of Law in Timor-Leste. "That job is to restore and maintain public security to the people of Timor-Leste and to assist with the reform, restructuring and rebuilding of the Timorese National Police, and the strengthening of the Ministry of the Interior."

The arrangement provides for unified command and control arrangements and the reform, restructuring and rebuilding of PNTL, including its certification. The combined presence of nearly 5000 police officers is expected to play a role in boosting public confidence ahead of next year's elections.

"This arrangement will allow UNPol to work hand in hand with the PNTL to ensure public security for all individuals and communities and help to restore the rule of law in Timor-Leste." Antero Lopes, the UN's Acting Police Commissioner said. "The agreement guarantees the Timorese can secure the support and leadership of UNPol in policing operations as well as the long term reform of restructuring and rebuilding the PNTL under a common integrated framework." Lopes said that under the newly signed agreement there will be close collaboration between the Minister of the Interior and the UNPol Commissioner to ensure that PNTL officers are certified to international standards of integrity, competence and skill.

The agreement also stipulates that UNMIT and the Government of Timor-Leste will work together to establish an effective and strengthened Ministry of Interior with respect to policy and administrative development. It provides for operational independence of the PNTL from the Ministry by adopting necessary legislative changes to shift authority for operational policing, police personnel management and internal discipline to the Police Commander.

The PNTL HQ disintegrated in May after fighting between security factions. UNPol, working in close collaboration with the Timorese authorities, is currently engaged in the reconstitution of PNTL through intensive efforts of screening and workshop/mentoring programmes designed to rapidly strengthen capacity and skills of the police service.

UN Security Council resolution 1704, adopted on August 25th this year, calls for a robust police presence of, at full force, of up to 1,608 qualified UNPol officers coming from various nations to help Timor-Leste working in all capacities of policing operations including leadership, community-policing, investigations, traffic, public order and administration functions.