Dili, August 25, 2014 — On August 21 and 22, The Asia Foundation and the National Police of Timor-Leste held The National Forum on Community Policing, bringing together the Polisia Nasionál Timor-Leste (PNTL), civil society organizations, policy-makers, and community members to share information, experiences, and ideas about community policing practices in Timor-Leste. Discussions covered a variety of topics important to the development of the country’s policing practices including how the PNTL are implementing the philosophy of community policing through their strategy of Visibility, Engagement, and Professionalism.
The National Forum on Community Policing is an annual event implemented by the PNTL and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the New Zealand Aid Programme, New Zealand Police, and The Asia Foundation. The forum also forms part of agreed activities under the HAKOHAK Program, a four-year $4.4 million project implemented by The Asia Foundation with support from USAID, and the New Zealand Aid Programme.
This year’s forum covered Community Police Councils (CPCs), Suku Police Officers (SPO), and the use of CPCs, and SPOs to target the most serious security issues facing communities including: domestic violence, land disputes, theft, and community tensions. The forum also featured presentations by the PNTL Vice Commander Alfonso de Jesus, the Secretary of State Security Francisco Guterres, as well as case studies, and discussion groups.
PNTL Vice Commander Alfonso de Jesus commented on the expanding role of community police practices in the work of the PNTL. “The PNTL has been adopting the philosophy of community oriented policing and we will continue to improve year after year,” remarked the Vice Commander, “…however, the PNTL cannot work at it alone, and looks toward its partners in the TLCPP and the HAKOHAK programs to continue strengthening the relationships and technical skills required.”
Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Guterres described the combined work of the Timor-Leste’s security forces. “The Government is developing its security policy to prevent conflict and to ensure the future stability of Timor-Leste as a whole. As part of this endeavor, community policing practices are playing a significant role in bringing the PNTL closer to the community, especially in rural areas.”
The forum commenced with an evening event for policy and decision-makers where the PNTL reviewed their achievements on the ground, talked about the challenges that need to be addressed, and discussed the future direction of community policing in Timor-Leste. A short documentary showing the start-up and formation process of Community Police Councils was also aired.
Country Representative for The Asia Foundation, Susan Marx praised the work of the PNTL in putting principles of community policing into practice. “Lessons from other districts have shown that CPCs and community policing work best when the PNTL take an active and leading role in helping to organize communities and joint problem solving,” commented Ms. Marx. “We are here to support the PNTL and communities in taking this next step and helping to regularize what is already a rich tradition of problem solving and community participation.”
Read more about The Asia Foundation’s work in Timor-Leste. For media inquiries, please visit the Press Room.