UN council highlights East Timor police `credibility` concerns
New York: The UN Security Council on Thursday called on East Timor to take action to strengthen the "credibility" of its police force as it extended the stay of the UN mission in the fledgling Asian nation.
The United Nations wants to end its peacekeeping mission in East Timor but is wary of fallout from the 2006 unrest that led to the creation of the international force which is now about 1,500 strong. East Timor is also to hold a Presidential Election in 2012.
More than 50 officers in the East Timorese police, the PNTL, face criminal or disciplinary charges but have still been allowed into the new post-independence force.
Concerns were raised by a UN envoy and some of East Timor`s main aid partners at a UN Security Council debate this week attended by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
"I trust the government will find no reason to exempt the 52 officers who face serious disciplinary and criminal charges," said Tsuneo Nishida, the UN ambassador for Japan, a key donor to East Timor.
Gusmao, one of the leaders of East Timor`s fight for independence from Indonesia, acknowledged the concerns which have also been raised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
A UN Security Council resolution passed on Thursday "emphasises the importance of taking all measures necessary to ensure the credibility and integrity of the PNTL, including resolving any outstanding disciplinary and criminal charges faced by PNTL officers."
The resolution recognised political progress since the 2006 unrest but said East Timor "still faces many challenges in areas related to the underlying factors of the 2006 crisis”.
On top of concerns about security and the judiciary, international observers have also raised concerns about East Timor`s economy.
The Japanese envoy noted that East Timor`s budget now exceeds USD 1 billion and its population is now above one million and called for greater emphasis on job creation.
"While we commend the work of the government, it is worrisome to note that many young people remain unemployed and large numbers of youth are joining the labour market every year with limited opportunities for employment," said Nishida.
The Security Council resolution also highlighted the need for "sustainable growth".
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