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UN hands power back to East Timor police

ABC News - October 31, 2012

Sara Everingham and staff – The United Nations has handed over full control of policing operations to the East Timorese National Police Force (PNTL) at a ceremony in Dili.

The current UN deployment – the United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor (UNMIT) – came in 2006, after a political crisis in which dozens were killed and hundreds-of-thousands displaced.

Police Officers from more than 40 countries, including Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, arrived to help with police duties, restore order and conduct training.

The head of UNMIT, Finn Reske-Nielsen, says the bulk of peacekeepers will now leave over the next six weeks.

"We expect that most of our personnel will leave by the middle of December," he said. "We will still have a handful of people left here by 31 December in order to sort of formally close what would be then be almost 13 years of UN peacekeeping and political missions in this country."

Mr Reske-Nielsen says a recent evaluation by the UN and East Timor found the PNTL was ready to take back control, but still needed improvement in several areas, including discipline.

"Although the way of dealing with problems might not be up to international standards, in the Timorese context they are really ready to do their job," Nelson Belo, director of the security organisation Fundasaun Mahein, told Radio Australia's program.

East Timor's Government says it plans to keep developing its security forces with continued help from countries like Australia after the UN withdrawal.