|Subject: AFP: T-L writes UN for help on
East Timor open to UN on police torture From correspondents in Dili 10may06
EAST Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta wrote to the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights today to invite experts to visit in the wake of reports critical of its police force.
Human Rights Watch said last month that the Government must act urgently to stop police torture and other ill-treatment of detainees before the practice becomes widespread.
The US State Department said in its 2005 Human Rights Report, released in March, that "there were numerous credible allegations of abuse of authority" among the police force.
The invitation also followed the April 28 riot in Dili which led to at least five deaths and prompted allegations of police heavy-handedness, Mr Ramos-Horta said.
The minister said in his letter that the Ggovernment invited the dispatch of any relevant "special procedures mandate holders" - such as the UN special rapporteur on torture - to visit East Timor.
"Timor-Leste has and remains strongly committed to its international human rights obligations and takes any allegations of rights violations by the State very seriously," he wrote.
"With this in mind, Timor-Leste wishes to take this opportunity to extend to all Special Procedures Mandate Holders an open invitation to visit Timor-Leste to assess the allegations of rights violations made by the relevant institutions of our country."
Indonesia occupied East Timor for 24 years until East Timorese voted for independence in a 1999 UN-backed referendum. Militias supported by the Indonesian military sacked the country in response to the ballot and killed an estimated 1400 people before and after the vote.
After three years of UN stewardship, East Timor became the world's youngest nation in 2002.
UN civilian police trained East Timor's police force, which took full control of policing operations in December 2003.
Portugal to send troops to E Timor
From correspondents in Lisbon
PORTUGAL said it will send paramilitary police to East Timor if the mandate of the United Nations mission there was extended amid unrest in the world's youngest country.
Lisbon has agreed to send members of its National Republican Guard to East Timor's capital Dili, foreign ministry spokesman Antonio Carneiro Jacinto said.
"But this decision will be taken after the UN Security Council agrees to extend the United Nations mission for another month," he told Lusa press agency.
The UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) mission is due to close on May 19 after nearly six years, having helped prop up East Timor following Indonesia's long occupation.
But the Dili authorities have asked for it to be maintained up to the first general elections since independence which are to be held next year.
Carneiro Jacinto said Dili had specifically asked Lisbon to contribute police "some time ago", and the request was not linked to the current crisis.
Five people were killed and more than 100 buildings were damaged when sacked soldiers and their supporters staged a rally in Dili on April 28 which turned violent.
A number of countries recalled their non-essential embassy staff from the country and thousands of people fled Dili in the aftermath of the worst unrest to hit the nation since it voted for independence from Indonesian rule in 1999.
New unrest this week led to the death of a policeman and some 100 arrests.
Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said yesterday: "Now we control the situation, but if, at any given moment, we conclude otherwise then we would accept our friends' assistance."
Australia raised the possibility last week of sending troops back to East Timor to help it deal with unrest if such a request was received.
New Zealand said it would be sympathetic to any UN request to send troops.
International peacekeeping troops were stationed in East Timor during a period of UN stewardship which ended in independence in May 2002.
East Timor was a Portuguese colony until Indonesia invaded and occupied the territory in 1975.