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UN signs joint security deal in Timor improving coordination, steps up policing

UN signs joint security deal in Timor improving coordination, steps up policing

The United Nations mission in Timor-Leste today signed a security agreement with Timorese authorities and Australia’s Government to better improve coordination in the fight against continuing violence in the tiny nation, while UN Police are stepping up efforts to bring stability ahead of this year’s planned elections.

“While we have always maintained good cooperation between all three parties, formalizing of a Trilateral Coordination Body is a useful step forward in clarifying how security cooperation between the three bodies will move forward in a way that will promote a sustainable stability in Timor-Leste,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Atul Khare said at the signing ceremony in Timor’s capital Dili.

The coordination forum will also allow closer information sharing on security issues between the UN Mission in Timor (UNMIT), the Timorese Government and the International Security Forces (ISF), although Mr. Khare reiterated that it is the people of Timor-Leste themselves who must foster stability in their country.

“We are here to assist and support the Government of Timor-Leste, but it is the Timorese who have the prime responsibility for maintenance of security and stability.” he said.

In a press conference after the signing, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Timor Leste, Jose Luis Guterres said it was a culmination of efforts between Australia, Timor Leste and the UN to maximise coordination in all areas of security.

The agreement comes a day after Mr. Khare expressed concern at an increase in violence in the capital during the latter half of this month, although the number of incidents is still lower than in December, and he added that since last Friday there have been 32 arrests connected with the disturbances.

“In the first week of December, 2006 UNPOL (UN Police) reported 151 incidents in Dili. In the first week of January, this has been reduced to 38 incidents. In the past week up until Tuesday of this week, this increased to 88 incidents. So you can see comparatively that the situation in Dili is more stable than what it was in early December 2006. Nevertheless, the increase is of concern to us,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Most of the 32 recent arrests “are connected with the possession of illegal weapons, rock throwing, attacks on police and some property damage to police cars,” he added.

Last weekend Mr. Khare, along with the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Security Sector Reform Rule of Law in Timor-Leste Eric Tan and UNMIT Police Commissioner Rodolfo Tor, held meetings with Timorese living in the areas of the increased violence to discuss reasons behind it.

Speaking at the same press conference on Thursday, Mr. Tan said he had also recently met with the leaders of various martial arts groups to discuss the violence between their members, adding that UNPOL was providing additional officers to police posts in Dili where needed.

“The message we sent to them (martial arts groups) is that this cycle of violence, revenge and counter revenge must stop. We asked the leaders to speak to their members,” he said.

In all areas UNPOL will be working very closely with National Police of Timor-Leste, he added.