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Many F-FDTL members are directly involved in violence

Dili Weekly - December 11, 2012

According to data from conflict monitoring NGO Belun, in 2012 some 15 member of Timor-Leste's armed forces (F-FDTL) were involved in violent action in the community across nine Districts.

"These violent incidents took place in the Districts of Dili, Bobonaro, Covalima, Oe-Cusse, Ermera, Liquisa, Viqueque, and Manufahi," said Belun's Program Manager Marilia Oliveira da Costa, from her office in Farol, Dili (03/11).

She said in Dili on 18 February 2012, in the village of Lao Rai, in Kuluhun, a member of the F-FDTL and another youth physically attacked another youth after the F-FDTL member's motorcycle hit the youth.

"The young man was injured. The case was referred to the police and other agencies. On 10 March 2012 in the village of Oplegul, in Holsa, in the Sub-District of Maliana, after an unknown group three rocks against an EDTL [Electricity of Timor-Leste] vehicle, the EDTL staff requested help to the border post of F-FDTL in Tunibibi.

By the time an F-FDTL deployment arrived at the scene the perpetrators had left. Another three youths, drunk, was in the area complaining about power cuts. The F-FDTL members descended upon the three youths and bashed them resulting in injuries for the youth. The police are still investigating this case," said the Project Manager.

In another case on 1 April 2012 at 10:00 in the evening in the village of Fatukoan, in Holpilat, in the Sub-District of Maucatar, in the District of Covalima, a member of the F-FDTL punched a youth in the mouth breaking his teeth.

According to sources this case took place after the Police Commander of Covalima District telephoned the F-FDTL to ask to capture a group allegedly involved in confrontations on 1 April 2012 in the village of Akar Laran, in Suai Loro, in the sub district of Suai Vila, Manufahi Covalima. The F-FDTL rather than capturing those involved in the conflict went directly to the victim's home and assaulted him.

Meanwhile Member of Parliament (MP) Camelita Moniz said these actions are criminal and regardless of being F-FDTL committing these crimes, the actions are still punishable.

"Regardless of being F-FDTL or individuals or groups, whoever commits a crime, or does any violation, must be prosecuted by law. There are legal processes in place. If they commit a crime then there are administrative procedures in place within their onw institution, but these cannot interfere with the judicial procedures," said MP Moniz, at the National Parliament, Dili (04/11).

According to the MP the F-FDTL is the fence for the nation so when it commits violations this makes the people afraid. "The F-FDTL are the people's spirit, they hold the trust of the people, they provide security to all, for example the F-FDTL's presence should make us feel safe," added the MP.