|Subject: SMH: UN falls out with Australia in row
over guns for police advisers
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 11:42:03 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald 27/05/99
UN falls out with Australia in row over guns for police advisers in East Timor
By MARK RILEY in New York and PETER COLE-ADAMS
The Australian Government and the United Nations are at loggerheads over whether the 280 international civilian police to be deployed in East Timor should carry sidearms for their own protection.
UN officials are proposing that none of the civilian police carry handguns in spite of the continuing violence in the lead-up to the planned August autonomy vote.
UN officials said yesterday that the organisation had a long-held policy that civilian police contingents should not be armed.
"Normally they don't carry sidearms, and so we are going by usual practice in the planning for East Timor," said Mr Manoel de Almeida, a spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan.
But a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, said Australia had on several occasions made it clear to the UN that its preference was for the police to be able to carry sidearms.
Australian Federal Police and their US counterparts have argued for the right to carry their service revolvers as armed pro-Jakarta militia continue their wave of political killings in an attempt to disrupt the ballot.
Mr de Almeida said neither Australia nor the US had put a formal proposal to the UN for their police to be armed, but UN officials were aware of safety concerns voiced by police representatives in recent days.
"If a formal request is received, then it will be discussed," he said. "But at the moment we plan to proceed with the usual arrangements, which is not to carry arms."
Mr de Almeida emphasised that the police would have no enforcement role and no effective legal powers in East Timor.
The agreement establishing the framework for the autonomy vote allows the police to act only as advisers to the East Timorese police and to oversee the distribution and collection of ballot boxes. During talks on security arrangements for the vote, Indonesia has voiced strong opposition to arming the police .
Those discussions are expected to continue for about another week, while the Security Council considers a report on the East Timor mission delivered by Mr Annan on Monday.
Mr Annan raised a contentious proposal in that report to add an unspecified number of military advisers to the mission in a bid to improve the UN's monitoring of the Indonesian Army's activities in the territory.
The report accused the Indonesian Army of standing by while armed militia carried out repeated attacks on pro-independence civilians.
Senior UN officials have already begun discussions with representatives of the Indonesian Government on the proposal to send military advisers.
Mr Annan is expected to make a final assessment next month on whether it is safe enough to proceed with the autonomy vote.