UN police project promotes road safety in Timor-Leste

29 August 2006

The newly established United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) kicked off its work this weekend with an initiative by UN police to raise awareness in the small nation about traffic rules and regulations.

The newly established United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) kicked off its work this weekend with an initiative by UN police to raise awareness in the small nation about traffic rules and regulations.

The project carries the slogan “Restoring and Maintaining Public Security in Timor-Leste” and was initiated by Acting UN Police Commissioner Antero Lopes in conjunction with the international police forces currently deployed in Dili.

Held on Saturday and Sunday morning, the campaign consisted of six major police check-points established in select high-volume areas in the capital Dili. Hundreds of vehicles were stopped at check-points and police distributed over 1,000 leaflets on best practices to observe traffic rules and regulations.

Mr. Lopes said the UN police are working closely with the international police forces in Timor-Leste to develop successful strategies that will focus not only on effective security but also on determining the peoples’ perception of security, which is equally important for the return to normalcy in Timor-Leste.

“There are two elements of concern: continuity and quality of the services we are providing and we are looking at those in terms of improvement and sustainability.”

“Blue Breeze” is the code name for the programme in which a series of announced and random future road safety and traffic law enforcement operations will be conducted. The programme will also include a series of workshops and seminars to educate the public, especially people involved in road safety operations.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Mr. Lopes said UN police will aim to create a safe and secure environment that will enable the resettlement of Timorese displaced persons.

On the UN’s general mission of training police in Timor-Leste, he noted that training is a lifelong endeavour. This is all the more true “in a nascent nation, in a nascent police service and, I want to emphasize the word service and not force, so the philosophy is to serve the public to serve all the citizens, and it needs time to mature.”

Last week, the Security Council established UNMIT with a civilian component, including as much as 1,608 police personnel, and up to 34 military liaison and staff officers initially.

Timor-Leste, which the UN helped guide to independence from Indonesia in 2002, is still recovering from the violence earlier this year that left dozens dead and forced some 155,000 people to flee their homes. The clashes erupted when the Government dismissed about 600 soldiers who had gone on strike.

 

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