USAID Community-Oriented Policing Doubles Its Reach in Timor-Leste

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Linda Quamar

DILI, February 12, 2014 -- USAID's community-oriented policing project HAKOHAK now reaches eight districts in Timor-Leste, twice as many districts as last year. The project expansion has just finished with a special ceremony in Ainaro District at the end of January. As in the other focus districts, the project team and the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) coordinate with district and community leaders to inaugurate the District Steering Committee and establish 10 new Community Police Councils (CPCs) to link communities with the police to reduce crime and conflict.

Over the past year, HAKOHAK has worked with PNTL to launch its community policing program in four new districts: Ainaro, Viqueque, Liquica, and Dili.  These districts join Aileu, Baucau, Bobonaro, and Manatuto, bringing the total number of districts with HAKOHAK support to eight. Each district has its own District Steering Committee and village-level CPCs. District Steering Committees meet quarterly to coordinate security priorities with the PNTL, district administration, citizens and NGOs. CPCs engage more than 10,000 citizens and 700 PNTL officers in tackling crime and conflict in their communities. They also helped resolve more than 200 disputes in 2013.

At the Ainaro ceremony, the PNTL Deputy General Commander Afonso de Jesus, U.S. Embassy Senior Advisor for Security and Political Affairs Gary Gray, and representatives from the New Zealand Aid Programme joined the PNTL forces from Ainaro and neighboring districts, and the Ainaro District administration to celebrate the new links between communities and the police.

At the ceremony in Ainaro, PNTL Deputy General Commander de Jesus expressed support for the District Steering Committee in Ainaro. He sees it as a way to improve relationships between community members and police, and he commended the many local stakeholders for their participation. He emphasized that security is not solely the responsibility of PNTL, but of the community as a whole. He stressed that the PNTL command is committed to supporting community policing principles, which are part of the PNTL organic law and in line with the PNTL’s new strategic plan. 

U.S. Embassy Senior Advisor for Security and Political Affairs Gary Gray stressed the value of the community policing approach and its success in resolving conflicts in other districts. "The U.S. Government is proud to support this program," Mr. Gray said. "It is part of our broader cooperation with the PNTL and civil society organizations to promote peace and stability in Timor-Leste."

The HAKOHAK project is implemented by The Asia Foundation, managed by USAID with funding from the U.S. State Department's Security and Stabilization Program. It is also funded in part by the New Zealand Aid Programme.

The United States Government and Timor-Leste work in partnership to support broad-based and effective development. The HAKOHAK project is one of the many assistance projects in Timor-Leste provided by the American people through USAID to support democracy and governance, economic growth, agriculture, health, and education.