International Police in Timor-Leste (IPTL)

International Police in Timor-Leste (IPTL)


In July 2006, Australian, Malaysian, Portuguese and New Zealand police contingents formed the International Police in Timor-Leste (IPTL). On 28 August that year, the IPTL began a three month handover as it was incorporated into the United Nations Police (UNPOL) of the incoming United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

Government sources

Answers to written questions taken on notice 25 July 2007, Australian Federal Police, Australia’s Involvement in Peacekeeping Operations, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

“The Australian response to the East Timor crisis in May 2006 was a military led police supported arrangement under a Joint Task Force command structure. Four participating countries (Portugal, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia), under various arrangements with the Government of Timor Leste (GOTL), provided a coordinated response to the crisis. The ADF was the lead military agency.

“…An international policing model, based on cooperation and coordination between the four contributing countries, consisting of approximately 500 – 600 police, was implemented in Dili and proved very effective.

“The transition from multinational policing to UN policing (UNPOL) occurred over three months from September-December 2006. It is understood that prior to 2006 there had never been a transition from multinational civilian policing (such as International Stabilisation Force – ISF) to UNPOL in UN peacekeeping history and this proved problematic.”  (Question No. 6, p.6)

Testimony to Senate Committee, Commander Steve Lancaster (Manager, AFP Operational Response Group), Senate Joint Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee, 25 July 2007, p.17 – 18, 25

“Cmdr Lancaster – …The GNR use smaller, nimble teams that get around because you have multiple strikes around the city – and that happened a lot…

“The Malaysians were more designed for big public demonstrations and they had 20 people in open-air troop carriers. That was a good idea in the tropics…(p.17 – 18)

“There were two specific incidents that occurred in the six months with, you have to understand, Timor, as opposed to Honiara or Tonga. They had a spike and it really went out of control. It was virtually over and done with within two or three days and then it settled back to normal. But, with East Timor, there was a spike which, rather than coming straight back down to normal, hovered in that green and blue area between army and police, and it was still high risk throughout the six months that we were there. There were occasions when we would have almost daily incidents of rock- and dart-throwing. Occasionally there were times when it just went ‘off’ – for want of a better work – for two or three days. On those occasions we probably had two incidents where we discharged firearms. It was the only time and they were only ever used as warning shots… Fortunately, a couple of minutes later the ORT, the tactical people and the GNR turned up. But those couple of minutes were extremely dangerous and they had to discharge their firearms as warnings shots.” (p.25).

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