Subject: ABC: Training of local police a priority for UNPOL


EAST TIMOR: Training of local police a priority for UNPOL

The new UN police chief in East Timor says one of her top priorities is to provide training to the local police force to take over policing of the young nation. UNPOL Commissioner Sandra Peisley is an Australian, who formerly served with the Australian Federal Police.

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Presenter/Interviewer: Sen Lam

Speakers: Commissioner Sandra Peisley, head of the UNPOL, the United Nations police force in East Timor

PEISLEY: A full review of those disturbances was undertaken and a number of lessons learnt were generated. Part of our approach regarding those lessons learnt has been an issue of retraining and it has also been an issue of identifying a new code of conduct for the Timor Leste. Police, and also identification of a use of force policy that is widely known by one and all in the police service.

LAM: Do you think that kind of local culture of authority; do you think that would be difficult to change?

PEISLEY: That is a difficult question to answer. Obviously because it's such a new nation and because the police service here is only three years old, they are still learning, and no doubt they will be still learning and building their own capacity over a number of years to come. But yes, obviously there are always issues, whether they be cultural or otherwise that it will need a particular focus, and the training that's now undertaken by the Timor Leste Police has in fact been extended by three months following our review of the incidents last year, and with a very practical focus now during that training. So that rather than it simply be a matter of theory and bookwork within the training academy, they now do a lot of practical exercises and scenarios, which actually give them an opportunity to physically undertake the sort of action that they would if they were attending an incident, and that they can then receive feedback at the time on how they undertook that particular action.

LAM: Do you think that by doing this that you are answering critics charges that the UN should instead spend the money on sending experts into East Timor to help build a local police force, rather than to send an expensive international force or street cops if you like to East Timor?

PEISLEY: I think that's very much underselling the skills and abilities of the United Nations police that are here. We have some highly skilled officers and not simply in community policing, but skilled across a range of policing functions, both administrative and operational. Obviously when you're recruiting in the manner in which we do, we've got job profiles and we have specific skills that we are looking for, particularly over the next six to 11 months where the UNPOLs will in fact be undertaking a technical adviser role, we'll actually be accompanying members of the Timor Leste police when they do in fact attend at incidents in their districts. And rather than the UNPOL members undertake the job themselves, they will watch the new Timor Leste(?) police undertake the job and then provide advice on what further actions they should take, or how they dealt with a particular matter, or be there to give advice should it be required.

LAM: How long is UNPOL to remain in East Timor?

PEISLEY: UNPOL will be here until the end of May next year 2004.

LAM: And that's just under a year away, do you think the local police will be ready by then to take over the policing of their country?

PEISLEY: We're already part-way towards that goal, there are a number of districts here in Timor Leste that have already been in fact formally handed over from UNPOL to the Timor Leste police. And we have UNPOL in the districts and working with the PNTL as advisors. So nine of the 13 districts have already been handed back to the police, and they are, it's a learning curve, we do have to recognise that this police service has only been up and running for three years.

LAM: The UN's investigating reports that Thai prostitutes have been smuggled into East Timor. Will UNPOL be extra vigilant, not just about its staff or personnel engaging sex workers, but also have to ensure that no sex workers have been forcibly transported to East Timor?

PEISLEY: Absolutely, we've been focussing since early this year and not just of late, since April actually of 2003, where UNPOL together with PNTL have undertaken a number of jobs where we've been focussing on sex workers and looking at whether there has been in fact any breach as far as human rights are concerned or any trafficking issues. So we have been actively involved in investigating and preventing the sexual exploitation of women and of children of course.

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