Thursday, July 27, 2017
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A local NGO is concerned that officers from the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) are misusing their weapons and not handing in their guns after they finish work as required.

Deputy Director of the Fundasaun Mahein Joao Almeida said the PNTL was not applying internal law article 4 and as a result members of the police force were carrying weapons outside working hours.

Deputy Director of the Fundasaun Mahein Joao Almeida said the PNTL was not applying internal law article 4 and as a result members of the police force were carrying weapons outside working hours.

“There should be proper controls [and] if it is not working hours then guns should be handed in and kept in the cabinet (at the PNTL office),” he said.

He said many accidents occurred because police failed to obey the rules on firearms.

“For example, in 2016 a man with a mental illness was shot dead by the police and a member of the Falintil-Timor-Leste Defense Force was shot in Aileu municipality,” he said.

He said currently every police station in the municipalities and administrative posts had a cabinet for storing weapons and therefore the PNTL should ensure firearms are collected before officers leave at the end of their shift.

“I believe all of them attend training on how and when to use the gun, but sometimes it is being misused,” he said.

Meanwhile, Member of Commission B (responsible for security, defense and foreign affairs) Cesar Valente said police continued to carry guns as they wished and without any controls.

“When PNTL (officers) go to parties they carry guns, when they go to funeral ceremonies they also carry guns – that’s what I said, it is still uncontrolled,” he said.

To address the issue he said police officers should be required to leave their ID cards in the gun cabinet when they collect their weapon at the start of their shift and only be allowed to collect their ID once the firearms are returned.

He also called on the senior command to arrest officers who failed to hand in their weapons before they went home.

“Every country does that and we need to do the same as it is a good [system],” he said.

In response to the issue, Operation Commander Superintendent Henrique da Costa said every police officer received training on how to handle firearms.

“They know how to use the gun [and] they learn everything during the training,” he said. 

Regarding the misuse of weapons, he said it depended on the individual personality of officers and their level of understanding in implementing the knowledge that they learnt during training.

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