Petty Corruption in the PNTL

Petty Corruption in the PNTL post thumbnail image
Foto Ilustrasaun Fundasaun Mahein

Foto Ilustrasaun Fundasaun Mahein

Quite recently in the national media a case of corruption within the PNTL was reported. In this case several members of the PNTL were caught selling fuel originally designated for police use only. This case highlights a worrying trend that Fundasaun Mahein is very concerned about, that of petty corruption within the PNTL.

Fundasaun Mahein has also been receiving increased complaints from motorists of being forced to pay bribes to traffic police, with the majority of these complaints coming from the ex-pat community. A case reported to FM quite recently, which reflects the majority of complaints, has the respondent being pulled over by police for driving the wrong way but then being forced to pay far above the standard rate for a fine to receive their car documents back and then being refused a receipt as it was a “friend to friend” payment. In this case the PNTL used the ignorance of the driver, in the proper procedures for issuing fines, to extort money for their own gain. The other troubling fact of this case was that this happened at the Balide police station, where it seemed all the PNTL present at the station at the time, including the commandant, were in on the deception.

Fundasaun Mahein is concerned that corruption is becoming more widespread and accepted amongst all ranks of the PNTL and is concerned this may spread to other public institutions.

These are very serious issues as Fundasaun Mahein believes that corruption is one of the single most destructive things in society. Firstly corruption has the potential to undermine faith in an institution and society, reducing public trust in a government that is meant to protect them. Secondly it reduces the already scarce resources of the state meant for the improvement of Timor-Leste’s people and society, instead going on to benefit only a few well connected people. Lastly it tarnishes the reputation of the country to foreigners, meaning less tourists will visit and will also decrease the amount of foreign direct investment and development money that comes into Timor-Leste.

Fundasaun Mahein would like to see the office of the ombudsman follow up and more vigorously pursue any corruption claims, no matter how small, before corruption spreads and becomes systemic amongst all public institutions in Timor-Leste. FM would also ask that all public to not to engage in paying any bribes or engage in corruption so as not give fuel to the fire. FM would also like to remind the public that paying bribes is strictly illegal in Timor-Leste as it is everywhere else in the world. If there are any concerns about corruption, FM urges all participants to either get in touch with the Ombudsman, call the information hotline (ph. number 112) or get in touch with Fundasaun Mahein (contact details on our web page) to investigate the further.

Correct procedure for paying any car fines

• If a police officer pulls you over for an offence they have the right to either take your car keys or registration documents until payment of a fine

• The police officer must give you a notification form stating what you were pulled over for and the fine applicable.

• You must then take the form to the Dept. of Transport or in Balide and pay there.

• From there they will give you a stamped receipt of which you can then take back to the police officer who will then return your car or documents

• A fine should only ever be in the price range of $10-$15

2 thoughts on “Petty Corruption in the PNTL”

  1. Hau iha kolega balun nebe sira nia membru familia polisia. Kuandu sira nia kareta ou motor hetan tilang, sira nunka selu fine ida tanba sira husu sira nia familia nebe membru polisia ba foti fali iha kaikoli no la liu husi prosesu legal. Ne polisia dignidade laiha mak hanesan ne. Pois balun tan kuandu polisia nia vizinhu hetan tilang ne vizinhu selu deit 10 ou 20 dolar ba polisia ne ba foti no la liu husi prosesu. Ne mos polisia dignidade laiha mak ida hanesan ne.

  2. Firstly I would like to thank FM for its excellent job in monitoring the activities of the security sector.

    However, in this particular case I would like to know what is the legal basis to say that: “If a police officer pulls you over for an offence they have the right to either take your car keys or registration documents until payment of a fine”.

    The decree-law n.º 6/2003, of the 3rd of April that establishes the Road Code (“Código da Estrada”) regulates very clearly in which cases may a driving license and the documents of the vehicle be object of an apprehension and the practice of a simple traffic offense, e.g. passing a red light, does not entitle any police officer to keep this documents. Actually, according to the law, keeping this documents is depriving the driver of its propriety, which amounts to theft.

    Regarding fines, the Road Code also establishes, in some cases higher fines than the ones referred to here.

    Having this into account, please let me know if I am missing some legal dispositions that I should be aware of, which entitle the police officers to take drivers’ or cars’ documents.

    Thank you very much for your time.

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