Vice-Minister of Interior Continues to Politicise the Security Sector

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Fundasaun Mahein (FM), 27 September 2021

Press Release

Vice-Minister of Interior Continues to Politicise the Security Sector

Based on Fundasaun Mahein’s monitoring, the Minister of Interior is currently planning nominations for new migration service attachés to serve abroad, replacing previous attachés. Nominees will fill vacancies in Portugal, Singapore and Darwin, as well as in Indonesia in the Bali, Kupang and Atambua consulates.

Fundasaun Mahein notes that the nominees for these positions are mostly people new to the migration service, who lack experience or knowledge in this area. Moreover, certain nominees have committed crimes and already received disciplinary sanction from the Ministry of Interior.

The nominee for the position of migration attaché to Portugal is a police agent from the PNTL Headquarters, and has no qualification related to migration. The nominees for Singapore and Darwin also lack training in the area of migration service. The nominee for attaché to the Bali Consulate has committed a crime and received a disciplinary sanction from the Ministry of Interior under former Minster Filomeno Paixão, and was removed from the Migration Service. However, Vice-Minister of Interior Antonio Armindo nominated this officer to become migration attaché in the Bali Consulate. For the Kupang and Atambua attachés, the Vice-Minister nominated people without knowledge or training in migration service. In particular, the nominee for Atambua is a civilian affiliated with KHUNTO, raising the question that they may have received the nomination as a result of their party connection and loyalty.

The Vice-Minister of Interior’s authority is limited to administrative issues according to the Order of Ministry of Interior No. 062/MI/VII/2020 22 July 2020. However, Vice-Minister’s Interior Antonio Armindo is stepping beyond the authority granted to him by this order.

The Vice-Minister’s actions show that he continues to make political interventions in the security sector and take actions which are outside his legal authority by nominating people for positions not based on knowledge or merit, but rather based on personal and party relationships and interests. Fundasaun Mahein warned previously that the actions of the Vice-Minister of Interior were leading to the ‘Khunto-ization of PNTL, and threatened PNTL’s institutional integrity. More recently, we wrote about the politicization of the public administration as a threat to development and national security.

Political interventions in the public administration divert its functioning as a professional institution to instead serve personal and party interests. In addition, such behaviour will not help to develop professionalism in the Migration Service, which plays a key role in Timor-Leste’s national security system.


  1. Fundasaun Mahein recommends to the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Taur Matan Ruak to pay serious attention to this issue with the Migration Service, and remove party interests from the security sector. This will help the Migration Service to become a professional institution which serves the public interest.
  2. We also ask the Prime Minster to override the Vice-Minister’s nominations, and instead nominate people with sufficient experience, training and knowledge in the Migration Service to become foreign attachés. Sending such people to work will allow them to learn and develop themselves more through experience, whereas sending those with no experience will start from zero, which will also discredit Timor-Leste’s name abroad.
  3. The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior must assume his responsibilities according the Ministry of Interior Organic Law, to avoid the situation where the Vice-Minister takes over duties which should be carried out by the Minister. FM recommends to Minister of Interior Taur Matan Ruak to ask the PNTL General Command to recommend migration personnel with strong experience for the attaché positions, which can avoid politicization of the process.
  4. Finally, FM recommends that Parliamentary Committee B should urgently request a response from the Minister and Vice-Minister of Interior regarding the issues raised above, and Committee B should also actively oversee the Migration Service to prevent its politicization.

For more details on this issue, please contact:

Fundasaun Mahein


Telemovel: (+670) 75771766


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