UN hands power back to East Timor police
Australia Network News, 31 October 2012, by Sara Everingham
The United Nations has handed over full control of policing operations to the East Timorese National Police Force (PNTL) at a ceremony in Dili.
The current UN deployment – the United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor (UNMIT) – came in 2006, after a political crisis in which dozens were killed and hundreds-of-thousands displaced.
Police Officers from more than 40 countries, including Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, arrived to help with police duties, restore order and conduct training.
The head of UNMIT, Finn Reske-Nielsen, says the bulk of peacekeepers will now leave over the next six weeks.
“We expect that most of our personnel will leave by the middle of December,” he said.
“We will still have a handful of people left here by 31 December in order to sort of formally close what would be then be almost 13 years of UN peacekeeping and political missions in this country.”
Mr Reske-Nielsen says a recent evaluation by the UN and East Timor found the PNTL was ready to take back control, but still needed improvement in several areas, including discipline.
“Although the way of dealing with problems might not be up to international standards, in the Timorese context they are really ready to do their job,” Nelson Belo, director of the security organisation Fundasaun Mahein, told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program.
East Timor’s Government says it plans to keep developing its security forces with continued help from countries like Australia after the UN withdrawal.
UN hands full police powers to E. Timor
Agence France-Presse, 31 October 2012
DILI: United Nations peacekeepers in East Timor on Wednesday handed full responsibility for policing to Asia’s youngest nation, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao announced.
The National Police of East Timor “are assuming full responsibility for maintaining law and order”, he said in a statement.
In March last year the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste handed some responsibilities to the Timorese police and has since focused on training instead of frontline duties.
The head of the UN mission, Finn Reske-Nielsen, said that under the peacekeepers’ guidance the Timorese police had “made significant progress” in many areas.
The force provided security during this year’s peaceful presidential and general elections.
The current UN deployment, which arrived in 2006 after a political crisis in which dozens were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, began withdrawing in earnest this month in line with a timetable to leave by the end of the year.
The largest batch will leave in November with the last of the peacekeepers due to depart in December, Reske-Nielsen has said. At its peak, the mission had 1,600 peacekeepers.
The only major violence since the arrival of the UN force was a 2008 failed assassination attempt against then-president Jose Ramos-Horta.
East Timor, an impoverished half-island nation of 1.1 million despite bountiful oil and gas reserves off its coasts, in May celebrated a decade of formal independence after a 24-year occupation by Indonesia.
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