Timor-Leste to review security sector with UN help

Timor-Leste to review security sector with UN help

The United Nations will assist the Timorese Government in carrying out a review of its security sector, a priority for the young nation which has already faced major security-related challenges since the world body helped it gain independence in 2002.

“The overall aim of the review is to strengthen the nation’s ability to protect itself, both internally and externally,” the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) said in a statement.

Security reform has been an important issue for the tiny South-East Asian country, which witnessed violent clashes that erupted in 2006 and, in February of this year, attacks on the Timorese President and Prime Minister.

“The review, reform and development of the security sector are vital to strengthening institutions that can weather future crisis without external assistance and that will help Timor-Leste establish itself as a strong democracy, upholding the rule of law and promoting human rights,” said Atul Khare, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMIT.

An agreement signed today between the Government and the UN Development Programme outlines the technical assistance and advice that the UN will provide for the review, which will be carried out by national institutions.

The review, which will be finalized by early to mid-2009, will identify threats and make recommendations on how security bodies can address, as well as examine, related areas such as foreign affairs, customs, intelligence services, justice, fisheries protection, border control, natural disasters, finance, maritime protection, health and the police and army.

“A reform of the security sector is based on the fact that the stability of a nation and its development go hand-in-hand,” said Deputy Special Representative and UNDP Resident Representative Finn Reske-Nielsen. “Without stability based on democratic principles and firmly anchored in a respect for human rights, sustainable human development can not be achieved.”

In a related development, UNMIT reports that some 3,000 Timorese police officers have now completed a refresher course to consolidate the training already provided by the UN Police (UNPol), since the programme began in 2006.

The five-day Provisional Certification Course (PCC) addresses issues such as community policing, police ethics, use of force, human rights, conflict de-escalation and negotiation, and post traumatic stress disorder.