The Timorese national police force on Friday resumed primary policing responsibilities in Ermera, the eighth district to be handed over from the United Nations since the gradual transfer of security functions began in May 2009.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General noted that some challenges will still need to be overcome and pledged that the UN will step up its support, including mentoring members of the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL).
“The long-term stability of the country depends to a large extent on the development of an effective and professional police service in which the community can have confidence,” Shigeru Mochida said at the handover ceremony, which was also presided over by Vice Prime Minister José Luís Guterres.
“This is a big responsibility for all police officers, and we are all grateful to you for taking on this responsibility,” he added.
The PNTL was established in March 2000 by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), which was set up to assist the country during its transition to independence, which it attained in 2002.
In the aftermath of the violence that erupted in 2006, a UN police force was established to maintain law and order in the country until the national police could be reorganized and restructured. The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was set up to oversee the process.
UN Police will maintain their presence in the districts where the PNTL have resumed responsibilities to monitor, advise and support the national police, including in the area of human rights protection.
The resumption process is being implemented jointly by the Government and UNMIT on a district-by-district basis following an assessment of the PNTL's readiness to assume primary policing responsibilities.
In addition to the districts that have been handed over since the process began last year, the PNTL has assumed responsibility for the administration and management of the Police Training Centre, the Maritime Police Unit and the Police Intelligence Service.