Human Rights and Justice Ombudsman Silverio Baptista Pinto has thrown his support behind the National Police of Timor-Leste’s (PNTL) general command’s push to make HIV/AIDS testing mandatory for its members.

Security personnel needed to be healthy physically and mentally, he said. 

"I will not say that this contravenes human rights,” he said. 

“Soldiers should be ready to serve the people and the nation and in order to be a good servant, one must be healthy.”

However he said those who tested positive must not be dismissed from the force. 

Some members had tested positive already and would receive treatment, he said. 

PNTL general commander Commissioner Longuinhos Monteiro said PNTL was working in partnership with the National Commission for Combating AIDS in Timor-Leste to raise awareness of the disease and conduct testing of its members.  

"This is not voluntary but is compulsory,” he said.

“Members must have the courage to do the testing once a year to confirm they are free from HIV.”

World Health Organization representative Dr Jorge Mario Luna said testing should be voluntary and involve counselling before and after testing.  

He declined to comment specifically on the PNTL’s move to compel its members to undergo testing.