UN Police and International Security Forces to Take Responsibility for Apprehending Prison Escapees

7 Jul 2008

UN Police and International Security Forces to Take Responsibility for Apprehending Prison Escapees

30 August 2006, DILI— United Nations Special Representative for the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste Sukehiro Hasegawa held a press conference today, with UN Acting Police Commissioner Antero Lopes and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commander Steve Lancaster. They briefed the media on measures agreed upon between the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and the international security forces in the wake of yesterday's prison break .

SRSG Hasegawa said the UN Police and the international forces will take responsibility for locating and arresting Major Alfredo Reinaldo and the 56 other inmates who escaped Becora Prison, east of Dili, yesterday late afternoon.
SRSG Hasegawa said that UN Police and the international police with the support of the bilateral forces had already set up a Task Force with UN police taking the lead in coordinating the Task Force. The Task Force would ensure the security of the population while in pursuit of the escapees, he said. "Brigadier General Slater, commander of the Joint Task Forces (JTF), confirmed military backup as necessary," SRSG Hasegawa said.

He explained this collaboration by stating, "In accordance with the newly adopted Security Council Resolution 1704, international security forces are called upon to cooperate and provide assistance to UNMIT for the implementation of the UNMIT mandate."

Immediate priorities, Acting Police Commissioner Antero Lopes said, are for the safety and security of the population and for the safe recovery of the inmates' return to jail. He encouraged and urged the population to contact any of the security forces, UN police or the AFP if they have any information on the escaped inmates. "It's in the interest of their [the population's] safety," the Commissioner said.

AFP Commander Steve Lancaster said he was pleased with the well coordinated effort to try and apprehend the escaped prisoners. Immediately after the incident, the military forces set up check points around the city to prevent them from leaving Dili, he said. The AFP had already conducted inquiries in the areas from which the escapees originated and collected witness statements from those present at and around the prison at the time of the incident. The prison guards have also been interviewed, the commander said. He said a large team of international and UN detectives had received photos to facilitate their investigations.

SRSG Hasegawa said while the overall responsibility of ensuring the safety of prison facilities lies with the Government, specifically the Ministry of Justice, external security had been provided by the JTF and the UN had not had a role in providing internal or external security around the prison.

"I recommend that the Timorese government undertakes a thorough review of the internal security and the prison management throughout the country," SRSG Hasegawa said. Later he added that he hoped that "the national leaders would call for the escaped prisoners to surrender themselves."

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