Police in another district in Timor-Leste have taken over law enforcement duties from the United Nations, it was announced today.
At a ceremony in Dili, the capital of the fledgling nation, the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) resumed the primary responsibility for the District of Oecussi, an 800-square-kilometre coastal enclave with a population of nearly 60,000 people.
On 14 May, the PNTL took over in the District of Lautém after the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIT) and the Government agreed on a resumption process which lays out the roles of the PNTL and UN Police.
“Resumption means more than just a transition of primary policing responsibility,” Luis Carrilho, UN Police Commissioner in Timor-Leste, said at today’s ceremony. “You will be responsible for ensuring and promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law.”
The Timorese police commander for Oecussi District, Mateus Mendes, has already served abroad as a UN peacekeeper, which is “evidence that the relationship between PNTL and the UN Police is a true partnership,” said Atul Khare, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
The District of Manatuto will be the next to have its policing duties taken over by the PNTL.
In UNMIT’s most recent mandate extension, the Security Council supported the phased transfer of policing responsibilities now performed by UNMIT to the PNTL starting this year, 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, or about 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.