[TimorLesteStudies] Lusa: Decision of a Portuguese judge “entraps” new UN Police Commissioner

Bu V.E. Wilson bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Sat Feb 28 05:20:35 EST 2009

Decision of a Portuguese judge “entraps” new UN Police Commissioner  

Dili, Timor-Leste, 25 February 2009   07:53 hours (LUSA) 

Dili, 25 February (Lusa) –  According to several sources heard by Lusa News Agency in Dili today, a ruling  by the Timor-Leste’s Court of Appeal drafted by a Portuguese judge “entrapped”  all the work of Unpol (United Nations Police) and its new Commissioner.  

A ruling drafted by a Portuguese  magistrate Ivo Rosa in response to an appeal rendered null and void a ruling by  Unpol Chief relating to a senior Timor-Leste’s National Police (PNTL)  officer. 

The ruling made by  the Court of Appeal in December 2008 annulled a court order to suspend Adérito  da Costa Neto, PNTL Baucau district commander. 

The suspension of this senior Timorese police  officer had been ordered following a proceeding initiated in October 2008 by the  then Unpol interim commander, Juan Carlos Areval (from Uruguai) on grounds of  “false quality”. 

A Portuguese  officer, Chief Superintendent Luís Carrilho, is the commander of Unpol as from  this week.  According to several Timorese and international sources heard  by Lusa, the recently-appointed commander found a complex problem on his  arrival. 

What Unpol and the  Timorese authorities fear in common is that the ruling of the Court of Appeal  may now be invoked by anyone as a precedent in order to contest any  administrative act by the international police. 

The issue was discussed by the heads of the United  Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and the Timorese leadership in  January, during a meeting of the High Level Coordinating Committee, where both  the Head of State and the Prime Minister have seats. 

According to international and Timorese sources  familiar with the case, the practical outcome of such discussion was that “the  case was kept in silence up until now” because “it was expected that nobody  would “pay attention” to the legal implications of the court ruling.  

The grounds of the ruling signed by  judge Ivo Rosa are based on the fact that the international treaty that  establishes the executive responsibility of Unpol over PNTL cannot be applied to  the Timorese juridical order. 

The Timorese Court of Appeal noted that the Policing Supplementary  Agreement, signed between Timor-Leste and the United Nations, “has not been  submitted to the Legislative for ratification. It has not been promulgated nor  published”. 

The agreement was  signed on 01 December 2006 between Mr Finn Reske-Nielsen on behalf of the United  Nations, and by the then Prime Minister, José Ramos-Horta, currently the  President of the Republic, following the establishment of UNMIT by the UN  Security Council. 

Lawyers  consulted by Lusa in Dili confirm the essential of the interpretation made by  the Court of Appeal, stating that it is “Timor-Leste that is at fault by not  rectifying the Supplementary Agreement” of 2006. 

“The problem (after the court ruling) is that, in  theory, any PNTL member may invoke the ruling of the Court of Appeal as a  precedent in order to appeal against any Unpol decision”, an international  police senior office in Dili told Lusa. 

“All Unpol work is entrapped, including any  decision on the PNTL certification process which is at its final phase”, said  the same senior officer, who asked not to be named. 

Over three thousand PNTL members have been  submitted to a final screening, training and certification process, a task that  constitutes a central mission of Unpol in Timor-Leste. 

The corollary of this certification process is the  phased, and several times postponed, restitution by Unpol of the operational  competences of PNTL. 

The  laconic stance of UNMIT as reflected in replies to several questions made by  Lusa is that the Mission “has no doubts whatsoever on the applicability of the  Supplementary Agreement in accordance with International Law”.  

The ruling of the Court of Appeal  was made at a conference of judges by Ivo Rosa, international judge José Luís da  Goía, and Timorese judge Antonino Gonçalves. 

Lusa attempted, albeit in vain, to obtain a  commentary from the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Council  of Ministers. 


Lusa/the end.  
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