Subject: LUSA: Portuguese Police Chief Recognizes Operational Difficulties

East Timor: Portuguese Police Chief Recognizes Operational Difficulties 4 Jan-21:32

The head of East Timor's UN civil police, Costa e Sousa, said Thursday the force faced "some difficulties" but was "at least as efficient" as similar missions elsewhere in the world.

Costa e Sousa was responding to criticism by Jose Ramos Horta, the territory's top diplomat, over the force's alleged lack of operational readiness.

"It is not easy for a police corps made up of personnel from forty nations to function with the same degree of efficiency as uni- national units", the Portuguese police superintendent said.

Ramos Horta had suggested that CivPol personnel grouped by nationality should be assigned to units responsible for specific areas of the territory. However, Costa e Sousa stressed that a decision in that regard "can only be made in New York" (by the UN Security Council, which determines the mandate of the mission in East Timor).

Costa e Sousa also commented on Ramos Horta's praise for the performance of CivPol's rapid response unit, which is made up exclusively of members of Portugal's National Republican Guard (GNR). Given that the unit is a uni-national corps within CivPol, comparison of its performance with that of the "normal" police does not seem "very fair", he said.

Ramos Horta's criticism followed an outburst of gang violence late Tuesday and early Wednesday in the Becora district on the outskirts of Dili, during which one youth was killed. He nevertheless praised Costa e Sousa and highlighted the population's "very great respect" for the GNR, saying it had acted "efficiently and professionally" to control the Becora clashes, despite having "few resources".

In his Thursday comments, Ramos Horta also called for the "use of force without hesitations", including firearms, to deal with such "criminal bands" that have caused disturbances in East Timor.

The 1996 Nobel Peace co-laureate said CivPol's performance was reflected by the East Timorese's "lack of faith" in the police, a situation he said was due to the mixture of too many different nationalities with varying levels of preparation.

He also criticized Jean-Christian Cady, number two in the UN administration hierarchy and responsible for security in the territory, for the lack of patrols on Dili streets after dark, given the fact that there is still no public lighting system in the city.

In East Timorese society, "there are certain elements attempting to cause destabilization, specifically members of the RDPL (a group founded by dissidents of the independence movement Fretilin)", Ramos Horta said. Some RDPL members are linked to the pro-Indonesia militias responsible for unleashing a terror campaign at the time of East Timor's 1999 independence plebiscite, he charged.

Queried on why such people remain at large, Ramos Horta again criticized CivPol for its slow application of justice.


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