Political Party Policies on Security & Defence for 2012-2017

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Fundasaun Mahein, 29 June 2012

Press Release

Political Party Policies on Security & Defence for 2012-2017

Fundasaun Mahein’s (FM) latest publication is a review on the policy on Security and Defence of the main political parties contesting the upcoming parliamentary election. The aim was to give our readers the opportunity to learn more on the policies proposed by the main political parties so that they can make a more informed decision come July 7th.

For the purpose of this report, FM interviewed political heavyweights CNRT, FRETILIN & PD as well as the smaller PUN. The focus on these three political parties is because of their likelihood in receiving the greatest number of votes and thus forming government. However all together there are 21 Political parties contesting the elections as well as three coalition political parties registered with the Comissão Nacional de Eleições (CNE).

From our interviews, we picked up on a general positive interest from the political parties to further develop the Security and Defense sector in Timor-Leste. However, there is a lack of specific policy focusing on security sector development. Additionally, there is no political policy to develop further the state secretaries for defense and security (SED & SES) or to support their existing initiatives and activities.


In the area of Defense there seems to be a general consensus by all political parties on the need to invest further on our navy, a prospective air force, infrastructure, legislation and human resources. However most political parties were unable to identify potential real threats to the defense of Timor-Leste and how to better prepare for them domestically and internationally. If threats are not well defined, any plans to develop both our security and defense sectors will be deficient.

For example a need for an air force was expressed several times, but when quizzed on the reasons behind this necessity and the definition of the mission for this component, responses were unclear. An inability to clearly define threats will lead to inadequate responses.

Additionally many political parties stated that they placed the defense sector as a secondary priority, but once again were unable to identify the reasons for this choice.

PD, FRETILIN, CNRT on Security

The political parties (PP) at hand proposed reforms on the laws guiding the PNTL and placed importance on institutionalizing community policing, reviewing the curriculum, installing an effective retirement reform for retiring PNTL officers, investing in infrastructure and developing further bilateral cooperation with our neighbors. However, a major problem affecting our police force is the absence of specific guidelines such as a white paper that would define it. A white paper can help guide the PNTL’s development, and define the number of officers needed, as well as what kind of police service is needed in Timor-Leste.

Some of the above-mentioned PP have come out stating that they would like to enforce the Forsa 2020 document based on real domestic threats and AMP PP have interpreted the Forsa 2020 document and formed the “Plano Dezemvolvemento Forsa”. The question is despite our best efforts at defining potential threats, why are we not able to define their appropriate responses?

FM would like to make the following recommendations we hope the new government would consider:

1) Timor-Leste has numerous bilateral and multilateral agreements but we do not have any MoUs. For example, with the United States, Timor-Leste only has the SOFA agreement but it needs reviewing and has to be approved by the National Parliament.

2) A review on the statute of the Army.

3) The National Defense Institute (NDI) needs to come into operation and conduct research, analysis and studies on defense issues.

4) The National Security Law stipulates an integrated political security policy but does not clearly direct each security institution and their level of coordination.

5) Other security issues are the need for legislation on civilian protection law and the need for a National Maritime Authority that is linked to.

For further information regarding this article please contact
Nélson Belo,
Director of Fundasaun Mahein
Email: nelson@fundasaunmahein.org
Tlp +670 737 4222

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