Timor-Leste: UN mission announces steps to bolster police in wake of last week's riots

Timor-Leste: UN mission announces steps to bolster police in wake of last week's riots

As investigations into last week's violence in Timor-Leste continue, the United Nations top envoy to the country today announced a number of immediate steps to strengthen the new nation's police force.

Kamalesh Sharma said that after consulting with the Government, the measures would include tighter supervision of the Rapid Deployment Unit of the Timor-Leste Police Service (TLPS), and TLPS officers rotated through the squad for periods of two years to establish a broader skill base within the force.

Training for the Unit will also stress the development of integrity, leadership, client-oriented service delivery, action management, interpersonal relations, communications skills, enhancement of problem-solving skills, adherence to the principle of the use of force and proportionality, the Constitution and on human rights standards, he said.

Other steps to be taken include the monitoring of all TLPS officers to ensure compliance with the highest standards of accountability and discipline, and a change in the Unit's uniforms to make them more like those of the TLPS and not of a separate entity.

Mr. Sharma said the events of last Wednesday, when two Timorese were killed and three more seriously injured, demonstrated the importance of the international community providing full support to the long-term process of creating a police service that meets the highest professional standard, and respects the human rights and dignity of the community it serves.

Meanwhile in New York, José Luís Guterres, Timor-Leste's Ambassador to the UN, said that the Government's two commissions of inquiry have started their work and the results of the investigations will soon be announced.

He added that elements involved in the riots were thought to be seeking refuge in neighbouring West Timor, Indonesia, and the authorities there have been doing their best to stop the illegal entry of the suspects. Once the commissions' work is finished, the Government will seek help from the Indonesian authorities in arresting the suspects.

Mr. Guterres also said that preliminary findings show that the bullets that killed two students were not from the Timor-Leste police force.