Timor-Leste Police Development Program

Timor-Leste Police Development Program


Australia and other countries have supported police training programs in Timor, but some ventures have been poorly managed with competing lines of command and co-operation between successive UN missions and key players like Australia and Portugal.

From 2003, the UK and Australian governments and private contractors have run the Timor-Leste Police Development Program (TLPDP). Prior to the 2006 crisis in Timor-Leste, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had posted 10 members to Timor as part of the program. The TLPDP was suspended in July 2006 but resumed in September – October 2006.

In January 2007, Timor, Australia and the United Nations agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding in which the United Nations assumed responsibilities for mentoring and re-phasing in the PNTL. The current TLPDP is due to end in 2010.

Government sources

United Nations

First batch of Timor-Leste police back on duty in Dili under UN mentoring scheme, UNMIT Press Release, 27 September 2006.

“A first group of twenty-five members of the Policia Nacional de Timor Leste (PNTL) has this week resumed duty under a mentoring scheme being run by the United Nations Police (UNPol).

“If there are no complaints, or if complaints are found to be invalid, recommendations are made to the Minister of Interior and the officer is then eligible to begin the six-week training and mentoring programme that includes five days of an intensive refresher course at the Police Academy followed by five weeks of on-the-job mentoring…

“The five-day training programme at the Police Academy is facilitated by the Timor-Leste Police Development Programme, a joint Australian and British project in collaboration with the Timorese Government and the UNPol…”


Timor-Leste, Current Deployments, Australian Federal Police.

“The Timor-Leste Police Development Program (TLPDP) is a bi-lateral arrangement between  the Government of Australia and the Government of Timor Leste (GOTL).  The purpose of the program is to assist the Policia  Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) to promote and maintain a safe, stable  environment in Timor-Leste, which will contribute to economic and social  development and sustainable poverty reduction.

Managed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the program is a $53M commitment by the Australian Government to provide a policing and training presence in Timor-Leste until 2010. All members are posted in Dili and work with the UNPOL and the PNTL. The new TLPDP agreement commenced on 1 July 2008 and will be delivered through a range of initiatives over a two-year period and evaluated for continuation or further development in the longer term.”

Commissioner Mick Keelty address to the Australian Institute of International Affairs, University of Western Australia, Perth, 21 August 2007.

“Our bilateral support to the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste at this time is largely through training provided at the PNTL Academy in Dili in close cooperation with the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor Leste…We are currently developing a proposal to provide enhanced assistance to the PNTL in the critical areas of institutional strengthening and leadership development.”

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.

“In addition to the UNMIT contribution there are 11 members deployed as part of the Timor-Leste Police Development Program, a bilateral arrangement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Timor-Leste that is building the capacity of the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL).” (Question No. 2, p. 3).

AFP’s role in capacity building and peace operations, International Deployment Group Fact Sheet, 24 August 2006, p.4

“On 16 June 2004 the IDG deployed a training team… as part of the TLPDP a project of the AFP Law Enforcement Cooperation Program (LCEP).”

Australia to increase Timor police training, Justice Minister Chris Ellison, ABC News, December 20, 2006

“[Senator Ellison] says the 50 Australian Federal Police officers in the country will conduct more joint training work next year…We have a group of officials going up in January to do a scoping study in that regard so really, I was very much encouraged by that.”

IDG – one year on, Platypus, June 2005, p.37 – 38.

“Timor-Leste is an example of the AFP’s continuing work to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agenc ies through the Asia-Pacific in a bid to fight transnational crime including people smuggling and money laundering…

“In July 2004, the AFP and AusAID mobilised a team of police advisors into Dili as part of the Timor-Leste Police Development Program (TLPDP). The team comprises six AFP members and six advisers who have been contracted and funded by AusAID…

“Areas of focus include crime prevention and community safety; investigations and operations; training and development; administration, oversight and strategy including financial, human resources and logistics and asset management…”

United Kingdom

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 24 July 2006 (pt 0064): United Kingdom Parliament, Column 984W

“The UK-Australian Timor-Leste Police Development programme (TLPDP) has been running since July 2004… The TLPDP complements other past and current police training undertaken by the UN and bilaterally. The programme has had a number of successes, including the design of a new curriculum at the police academy to incorporate human rights materials throughout. It produced its first batch of East Timorese trainers in November 2005, who were able to graduate their first basic recruit course of 260 new personnel earlier this year…Discussions have been held with the UN assessment team to look at how the work of TLPDP might complement that of the new UN policing activity in East Timor.”

Commentary and analysis

Challenges to Sustainable Police Building, Bu Wilson in Exploring the tensions of Nation Building in Timor-Leste, School of Social and Environmental Enquiry Research Paper No. 1, Palmer, L., Niner, S & Kent, L (ed), 2007 p.53 – 53.

“[The TLPDP] is a cooperative venture between the Australian Federal Police, AusAid and an Australian Managing Contractor…

“By late 2002 concerns about the lack of progress [by the United Nations Civilian Police] with the development of the [PNTL] lead to a Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) that was not well supported by the UN Police Commissioner, poorly resourced by CIVPOL and had almost no East Timorese involvement. The highly critical report resulted in what can only be described as half-hearted…responses from the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). This eventually gave the impetus for Australia and the United Kingdom to begin to design what became the Timor-Leste Police Development Program under Australian auspices…” (p.52 – 53)

Regional capacity building and policing experience in the South Pacific, John McFarlane, 3rd Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, New Delhi,  8-9 December 2006, p.10 -11.

“The TLPDP (Timor Leste Police Development Program) commenced in August 2003. It was jointly sponsored by Australia, the UK, and given in-kind support by East Timor government. The TLPDP was jointly staffed by AusAID contractors and the International Deployment Group (IDG) of the AFP. While active, it had four main components: (1) preventing crime and ensuring community safety; (2) conducting investigations and operations; (3) training and development; and (4) administration, oversight and strategy. Its overall goal was the maintenance of a safe and stable environment in East Timor and support for social and economic development and sustainable poverty reduction. Its specific purpose was to strengthen the capacity of the East Timor Police Service (PNTL) to effectively and professionally maintain law and order with full respect for human rights.”

UNMISET and Internal Security in East Timor, La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, vol 4. no.2 2003.

“The Rapid Intervention Unit or UIR (Unidade Intervensaun Rapida) is a special unit of East Timorese police trained to respond in cases of riot, civil disorder and crowd control. There are two UIR units, one based in Dili, composed of 130 officers, and another in Baucau, with 60 officers. UIR officers were recruited from all police officers, but now it’s made only among officers who volunteer to take part in the unit. UIR has already been handed to the PNTL, and the unit receives special training outside the Police Academy. They were first trained by the Portuguese Intervention Corps (CIP), followed by training from Malaysia and Australia. After the 4 December incident, UIR received further training in the use of force and crowd control from Malaysia, a country with a poor record of police respect for human rights.”

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