Joint UN-Timorese police operation smashes human trafficking ring in capital

6 July 2009

United Nations Police (UNPOL) serving in Timor-Leste and the South-East Asian country’s police force (PNTL) say they have cracked a human trafficking ring after arresting 10 people during a joint operation in a bar in the capital, Dili.

The 10 suspects, who include one woman, were arrested on 2 July at a bar in the Marconi neighbourhood and are now in Becora Prison awaiting pre-trial hearing.

UNPOL and PNTL found 21 women and one 17-year-old girl working in the bar, and they are being cared for by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) while they are being processed as victims of human trafficking.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the suspects deceived the women into travelling to Timor-Leste on the expectation they would have legitimate jobs as waitresses or masseuses, but then forced them to provide sexual services after they entered the country.

UNPOL Commissioner Luis Carrilho stressed in a statement issued by the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) that the UN regarded human trafficking as a form of serious exploitation and abuse.

“Police will not hesitate to take action against human traffickers,” Mr. Carrilho said, adding that last week’s operation highlighted the good relationship between UNPOL and PNTL.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

UN helping Timorese uprooted families return home peacefully

The United Nations is assisting families displaced by violence which shook Timor-Leste in 2006 return to their homes and preventing potential conflicts in their communities.