UN hands over first district to Timor-Leste national police unit

13 May 2009

The National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) will take over law enforcement duties in a district of the fledgling nation this week for the first time since violent clashes rocked the country in 2006, the Government and the United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNMIT) announced today.

The National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) will take over law enforcement duties in a district of the fledgling nation this week for the first time since violent clashes rocked the country in 2006, the Government and the United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNMIT) announced today.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste Atul Khare, who also heads UNMIT, have decided that the resumption of responsibilities by the PNTL will start in the District of Lautém tomorrow, 14 May.

UNMIT and the Government reached an agreement on the resumption process which clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the PNTL and UN Police. UN Police will remain in the district to provide advice and monitoring, particularly in the area of human rights protection.

In UNMIT’s most recent mandate extension, the Security Council supported the phased transfer of policing responsibilities now performed by UNMIT to the PNTL beginning in 2009, stressing however that the police must first meet all required criteria.

The mission was set up to help stabilize the country and provide intensified police re-training in late April 2006, after fighting – attributed to differences between eastern and western regions – erupted following the firing of 600 striking soldiers, or one-third of the armed forces.

Ensuing violence claimed dozens of lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.

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