Security Sector Reform Monitor: Timor-Leste Field Research by Nelson Belo, Director – Fundasaun Mahein
No.1 Friday, December 11, 2009
The Security Sector Reform Monitor is a quarterly publication that tracks developments and trends in the ongoing security sector reform (SSR) processes of five countries: Afghanistan, Burundi, Timor-Leste, Haiti and Southern Sudan. This inaugural issue of the Security Sector Reform Monitor, Timor-Leste, will cover sector-wide developments and trends, but will focus predominantly on police reform.
In mid-2006, large parts of Timor-Leste’s security sector collapsed and the fledgling nation lurched toward civil war. The country’s police (Polícia Nacional de Timor Leste – PNTL) and military (Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste – F-FDTL) were at best incapable of controlling, and at worst complicit in fomenting crime and lawlessness, requiring the government to request an Australian-led peacekeeping force and international policing presence to restore public order.
The tragic events of April–June 2006—in which 37 died in the violence and over 150,000 were driven from their homes—laid bare the dysfunctions of the security sector.
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“The Crisis,” as the events of 2006 are now known, revealed that there was little substance to many parts of the security sector beyond uniforms and weapons. It became clear that Timor-Leste required a comprehensive and far-reaching security sector reform (SSR) process.
There have been significant changes in the Timorese security sector since 2006, not all of which have been positive. After nearly three years of executive policing authority, the United Nations Police (UNPOL) has begun a staged handover to national authorities.
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There has also been a marked improvement in relations between the PNTL and F-FDTL. The return to national control of the police is a welcome development as it demonstrates the growing legitimacy of the country’s security institutions and increasing local ownership over the SSR process. However, it comes with some risk; it was the Timorese government’s mismanagement of the security sector that led to the 2006 crisis.
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Although this edition of the Security Sector Reform Monitor: Timor-Leste will cover sector-wide developments an
Historical Background of the Security Sector 2
Security Environment 4
The United Nations and SSR 6
Justice Sector 10
Armed Forces 10
Works Cited 12