Fundasaun Mahein celebrates 9 years of service to the people of Timor-Leste

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Photo: Fundasaun Mahein

Today, on June 29th, 2018, Fundasaun Mahein (FM) celebrates its ninth anniversary of operations in Timor-Leste. In response to the aftermath of the 2006 crisis and ongoing concerns about Timor-Leste’s security sector, Nélson Belo co-founded Fundasaun Mahein (FM) in 2009 to provide an honest and independent voice for civil society in Security Sector Development (SSD). Nine years FM has seen mature as an organisation, an increase its capacity to implement its core activities of Monitoring, Research and Advocacy as well as an expansion in the scope and impact of its Programming.

FM has also had greater involvement in international conferences, allowing for us to provide a Timorese Civil Society perspective on SSD in Timor-Leste, forge new relationships with international stakeholders, and participate in constructive debate regarding the successes, challenges and opportunities facing Timor-Leste and its security sector. This has facilitated cross-cultural and multi-national exchanges of ideas and approaches to SSD, value adding to FM’s work and that of our international partners and friends.

After 9 years FM’s output continues to be well-respected in the security sector, Government and international stakeholders in Timor-Leste whilst attracting more attention within the region and beyond.
An overview of FM’s accomplishments over the 9 years can be found below, before we discuss some key thematic areas of concern to FM in the future.

• Over 130 research reports and 220 Blogs published on security sector development and reform
• Hard-copy distribution of over 4,200 research reports and 10,500 newsletters and pamphlets in local communities in all districts of Timor-Leste in the past three years alone

• 1489 citizens and PNTL officers directly engaged in FM Community Management Meetings in communities across 12 municipalities
• More than 2300 secondary school students directly engaged in FM’s Youth Socialization programming in 36 schools across all municipalities in Timor-Leste
• 440 university students directly engaged through university lectures and programming
• Over 55 interns taken on from DIT, UNPAZ, UNTIL, UNDILI, Centru Juventude, and more.

• Over 8800 Facebook and 1,500 Twitter followers
• 39 Radio/TV programs since 2013
• Security Sector media training with over 200 media representatives
• Translation of PNTL legislation from Portuguese into Tetun, distributed to PNTL forces, government officials, and PNTL commanders in all municipalities

Fundasaun Mahein’s Plans for the Future
After 9 years, FM is still driven by the same principles that prompted us to open our doors in 2009: the need for holistic development and reform of the security sector to ensure safety for economic growth, domestic infrastructure development, and political progress.

As much as FM and civil society have contributed to Security Sector Development since 2009, there is still much work to be done. FM remains concerned by the following issues:
· Limited coordination and delineation of responsibilities still exist between the F-FDTL, PNTL, PSIK and the National Intelligence System for internal security provision, border security and maritime security. This is despite largely clear delineation in legislation
· Despite progress made in the implementation of Community Policing with collocation of Community Policing Officers (OPS) at the suku level, major challenges exist for the institutionalisation of Community Policing across the PNTL, to as aspired in the 2009 Organic Law of the PNTL and PNTL Strategic Plan 2014-2018
· Extremely limited capacity for the F-FDTL and PNTL to conduct maritime security operations and monitor and protect Timor-Leste’s maritime environment
· Effective implementation of the 2017 Migration and Asylum Law (Law No.11 2017) and the 2017 Law on Preventing and Combatting Human Trafficking (Law No.3 2017) remains problematic, with this impacting on the State’s ability to regulate migration and combat human trafficking.
·The ability of the F-FDTL to operate and sustain its nascent aviation capability with the recently gifted aircraft and helicopter.

We’d like to take a moment today to recognize all those who have enabled Fundasaun Mahein reach these milestones since 2009. When FM first opened its doors in 2009, we had only 6 members: Frei Guterres, Mateus Goncalves, Joao Almeida, Beltersa Lopez and Caetano Alves and Moises Vicente. FM also benefitted greatly from the advice of Commander Ular Rihik, Edward Rees and Gordon Peake, other friends and associates from the Students’ Solidarity Council, and Professor Jim Dator from University of Hawaii.

Since then we’ve grown significantly, and as of 2018 Fundasaun Mahein has relied on the hard work of 50 women and men over the years in research, outreach, programming, finances, archiving and more, to offer a complete platform for our stated mission of “Monitoring, Research and Advocacy” in the security sector. Without our incredible staff and close advisors, we would not be where we are today.

Second, we would like to thank our donors and partner organizations for their support in FM’s mission over the past nine years. With this immense swell of support Fundasaun Mahein has managed to make tangible impacts on policy and practice at the local and national level, and we hope our relationships continue to grow as we move forward.

Third, we would like to thank all the volunteers and volunteer partnership organizations who have contributed their time and efforts to improving Fundasaun Mahein internally and externally. Our volunteers have been crucial in the development of FM and we hope to continue to build on our partnerships in the coming years.

Finally, we must recognize all the stakeholders who have helped FM build its network since our founding.

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