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Ban cites continuing need for UN police support for Timor-Leste

2 February 2011 – While the Timorese national police are resuming primary policing responsibilities in more districts of the country, there is a continued need for a United Nations police presence to support the fledgling institution, says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The handover of responsibilities from the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) to the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) is part of an ongoing process that began in May 2009 to help establish a professional and credible police force in the country, which the world body shepherded to independence in 2002.

To date, the national police have resumed responsibilities in a total of 10 districts and six units, including the largest district, Viqueque, as well as the Immigration Department, Border Patrol Unit and Interpol Office.

“It is encouraging that the resumption of primary policing responsibilities by the national police has continued to progress and that completion in all the districts and units is likely in the coming months,” Mr. Ban writes in his latest report to the Security Council covering UNMIT’s activities from 21 September 2010 to 7 January 2011.

Even after the Mission has handed over responsibility for the conduct and command-and-control of all police operations in the country, he adds, there will be a continuing need for a UN Police presence to support further institutional development and capacity-building of the PNTL.

An adequate presence on the part of UN Police will also be required to support the national police in the event of “extreme circumstances,” if requested, including during the critical period of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012, says the Secretary-General.

While the overall situation in Timor-Leste during the reporting period was calm, with general trends showing further progress towards long-term peace, stability and development, Mr. Ban does note that a number of violent incidents between youth groups occurred.

Those incidents, while a source of concern, were the result of local disputes and did not have any significant impact on the overall security environment.

The Secretary-General recommends a 12-month extension of the mandate of UNMIT, which was set up in 2006 to replace several earlier missions in the small South-East Asian country. The Mission currently has some 1,517 uniformed personnel on the ground, including 1,482 police, as well as over 1,200 civilian staff and volunteers.

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