Fundasaun Mahein, 15 November 2013
Local Initiatives on Community Policing: The Initiatives of the District Commands of Bobonaro, Aileu, Liquisa and the Maritime Police Unit
Mahein’s Voice (Mahein Nia Hanoin) Report No. 05 examines Fundasaun Mahein (FM) has conducted case studies of the district commands of Bobonaro, Aileu, Liquisa and the Maritime Police Unit. This study focused on the initiatives taken by district commanders in implementing community policing based on the experiences they have, and it was implemented according to the security situation in each respective district.
The district commands of both Bobonaro and Aileu are collaborating with development partners, NGOs, community leaders and community members in the establishment of the Community Policing Council – CPC. The composition of the CPC involves the police, community leaders, female and male youth, veterans, community leaders and community members. The same approach is also applied in the district of Liquisa, where they use the term “Voluntary Security” (VS) to refer to their community policing program. The composition of VS involves the police, community leaders, female and male youth, veterans, community leaders and community members. This also includes the involvement of the Maritime Police Unit in implementing the community policing activities by means of cooperation with fishermen, fish traders and fish buyers along the beach in adopting the policing approach.
The CPC is a joint security model between the PNTL and communities in identifying problems that arise in the communities. The CPC helps identify the general situation in the village and hamlets. This includes identifying the security situation, economy, political climate and the general developmental progress occurring in each respective village. Identification is followed by implementation of activities such as the development of the community-oriented security system so the community can practice self-maintenance of security, preventing crime, and creating and maintaining peace.
The CPC serves as an alternative means of justice in communities, since justice is rarely served by the government throughout the districts and other supporting institutes provide mediation services to the community when problems arise. The CPC adopted the traditional justice system that has been long-rooted in the community, whichenables the people to work effectively with the PNTL in implementing the approach. The processing of a case based on the traditional justice practice includes a mediation process involving the family or relatives of the conflicting parties, and is considered by the community as an alternative to the formal justice system, which has not reached people in the rural areas.
The alternative approach is calledVoluntary Security (VS), whichis the Community Policing model being adopted in Liquisa district. The function of VS is to provide for security, information sharing, and exploring the best ways of creating a safe, peaceful and comfortable situation which is, in practice, to be carried out by individuals or volunteers in order to contribute to security. The VS membership in the village consists of two youths (one male and one female) and also other community leaders who areengaged in the activity.
The establishment of VS is seen as an alternative method which encourages active community participation in its development in order to obtain information about all events taken place in Liquisa district. Because the government was not meeting its duties in providing information on development, the PNTL and community leaders took the initiative to establish the V Sin order to open the space for community participation in development of various areas including conflict prevention, peace-building, and the maintainence and promotion of peace.
In terms of prevention, there has been effective preventative measures taken and growing community participation in districts, villages, and hamlets. Some of the activities taking place or being designed are the creation of a work plan in designing statistics for recurring problems, meetings between the members of VS to identify problems, identifying target groups or individuals to formulate solutions, and gather information from community members to devise an effective prevention strategy that is solution-oriented.
These initiatives were spearheaded by district commanders in collaboration with the community, yet they have not received the full attention from the relevant ministries or the central government. To date, it has been development partners (donors) and NGOs who have provided support for these initiatives, in addition to the voluntary work of the community.
FM observes that such initiatives require the support of the government, as it is an asset of the community that has been initiated in the local level; the community becomes the owner of the efforts they have initiated. Additionally, this is a cost-efficient means for preventing conflict and bringing peace and security to the community.
1. Recommend to the Ministry of Defense and Security that it needs to provide policy and budget support for the community policing activities by taking initiative over the establishment of the CPC and Voluntary Security in the districts and to support the expansion of these programs to other districts
2. Recommend to the National Parliament Committee B for defense, security and foreign affairs to maintain its supervision of the policing activities at the district level and to monitor the progress of the work that has been initiated by the district commands, as well as requesting that the relevant ministries build on the efforts initiated by the police.
3. Recommend to the Secretary of State for Security (SES) to establish an integrated working cooperation focused on conflict prevention between the PNTL Command (through the Community Policing Department) with the National Directorate for Community Conflict Prevention (NDCCP). These two organizations will cooperate but continue to operate as separate entities.
4. Recommend to the PNTL command to continue to cooperate with civil society organizations and development partners in expanding community policing activities in district commands across the territory.
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