EAST TIMOR POLICE TRAINING COLLEGE OPENS WITH 50 CADETS
(includes extensive quotes of SRSG, Sergio Vieira de Mello)
East Timor Police Training College opened in Dili today with the first class of 50 cadets starting their three-month course.
Senior UNTAET officials, members of Timorese leadership, civil society and Church representatives, together with the families of the cadets, attended the opening ceremony. There were traditional dances and addresses by UNTAET CivPol Commissioner, Carlos Coelho Lima, and SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Wearing white shirts, khaki pants and blue caps with the UN logo, 39 men and 11 women cadets were welcomed by Commissioner Lima to "a new challenge".
"If you are determined and committed to respect the rights of all people, regardless of their race, their color, their religion, their politics, (...) you will be a major influence in the establishment of democracy in your country," said Lima.
SRSG Vieira de Mello addressed the cadets in his name and on behalf of the CNRT Vice-President Jose' Ramos-Horta, who was also present at the ceremony.
De Mello called on the cadets to maintain "exemplary" performance and behaviour, for both will be crucial in establishing confidence in state institutions.
"It will not be an easy task," the SRSG said. "In the past 24 years the Timorese have witnessed frequent and tragic abuses perpetrated by state institutions, not least the police itself, as I was again reminded last Friday at a simple but very moving ceremony at Maliana former police headquarters, where scores of East Timorese were killed, were butchered, in September of last year for no good reason whatsoever."
"Those who were with me in Maliana will confirm that if the widows and orphans of those who disappeared, literally disappeared because nobody knows where their bodies are, would be proud and would feel reassured if they were attending this ceremony today".
"So, for the memory of those who died, for those who have survived them, for your families, for the East Timorese society as a whole, I appeal to you to uphold at all times the highest values of an independent police; a police answerable only to the judiciary, policemen and policewomen who are answerable only to their own consciences and not to political forces, not to pressure groups, nothing that is outside the structure of a democratic state, and those who will have in the future the responsibility of supervising the tasks of the East Timorese police force," concluded De Mello.
The training at the college will take 3 months, followed by on job training for 3 more months, and other six before a final decision on their abilities. The candidates will be trained in the concept of human rights and community policing, basics of criminal law, police techniques, traffic rules, investigation techniques and driving skills.
The recruitment for ETPS is an ongoing process and will take around three years to recruit 3,000 policemen.
CNRT LEADER EXHUMED
On Saturday, the Human Rights Forensic Experts and CivPol investigators exhumed the remains of Ana Lemos, a CNRT leader who was shot seven times on September 13 in Ermera.
At that time of the killing the body of Lemos was left behind with no burial. Only afterwards the body was buried, but under the name of Maria da Costa. Later on it was discovered that Maria da Costa was alive in West Timor, and that the remains were actually from Ana Lemos.
On Friday, the forensic experts also exhumed six bodies in Maliana, and two in Balibo. All of them were victims of September's violence.
All the bodies were taken to the Human Rights Morgue in Dili for autopsy, which is expected to be concluded by Thursday.
The number of bodies exhumed so far in East Timor from victims of militia violence is around 170.
MEETINGS WITH INDONESIA
A delegation of UNTAET officials headed by Ambassador Peter Galbraith, the head of UNTAET Political Office, is having a series of meetings tomorrow and the day after with representatives of the Indonesian Government in Bali, Indonesia.
UNTAET and Indonesia will discuss a wide range of issues, including the possibility of setting up border entry posts to East Timor.
The agenda will also have education matters, in particular the discussions will focus in the implementation of President Wahid's recent offer to have East Timorese University students back in Indonesia.
With a view to holding discussions on the payment of pensions to former officers of the Indonesian Civil Service in East Timor, UNATET's head of Civil Service, Andrew Whitley, will attend the meeting.
TRANSITIONAL EMPLOYMENT PROJECTS UNDERWAY
Several Transitional Employment Projects have provided short-term employment to more than 2,000 people in six districts of East Timor. Mainly USAID funded and organized by UNTAET, these projects are targeting unemployed youth by providing jobs in areas of benefit to their communities.
In Dili there are four of these projects in different stages of implementation and they employ some 680 people.
The projects include cleanup of the Dili swimming pool, painting of the Cathedral, cleanup of watercourses around the city and cleanup of rubble. They are in different stages of implementation with cleanup of watercourses and the pool already underway, while the other two are in the phase of hiring people.
The NGO CONCERN Worldwide is implementing another Transitional Employment Project in Dili that entails the cleaning of the stadium.
There are projects of this kind in Aileu, Liquica, Ermera, Manatuto and Lautem with more than 1,650 people employed. They are engaged in community improvement activities such as minor road repair, market improvements, clearing of drainage systems, and rehabilitation of sports facilities.
It is anticipated that all 13 districts will have Transitional Employment Projects by the end of April.
SRSG TRIP TO MALIANA
The Transitional Administration came back from Bobonaro district last Saturday after a two-day visit.
In Maliana, the SRSG met with the population of the sub-districts. About three hundred people attended a town hall meeting that lasted almost three hours. The SRSG answered questions mainly about food distribution, health service and security.
The SRSG also had meetings with CNRT and representatives of local church, community leaders, women and youth organizations. Sergio Vieira de Mello also went to Memo, a small village on the border, where he visited a school that is being reconstructed.
In Maliana, the SRSG also participated in a ceremony in honour of the victims of the police station massacre of last September, where a group of widows of some of the victims was present. I is believed that between 46 to 54 people died in that massacre.
On Saturday, Sergio Vieira de Mello went to Batugade' to attend a family reunion meeting. There, he spoke with some East Timorese who are living in the camps in West Timor.
ARRIVAL OF NEPALESE ADVANCE PARTY
An advance party of ten Nepalese Officers and equipment is expected to arrive in East Timor on 30 March. The remaining 150 personnel will arrive on 5 April.
The Nepalese infantry company will replace the Canadian contingent in Zumalai in Sector West. The last elements of the Canadian company left the camp on Friday.