Most of Timor Leste's Vulnerable Person Unit police officers are women

According to a 2019 report issued by World Vision and partners, a “staggering 87.4% children - 612,000 children - experience physical or emotional violence at home in Timor-Leste.” The European Union (EU)-funded Spotlight Initiative – implemented by five UN agencies in Timor-Leste – empowers national institutions such as the Timor Leste National Police (PNTL) to end violence against children and all forms of violence within families.  

The training organized under the Spotlight Initiative by the PNTL with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will focus on officers of the Vulnerable Persons Units’ (VPUs) as well as personnel of the PNTL Police Training Centre.

“To investigate child abuse, we need investigators to be professional, and we asked UNDP and other partners to help the VPU. We also thank the UNDP for its continuing support the PNTL,” said PNTL Deputy General Commander,  Mateus Fernandes.

The two-week training is a starting point to enable the PNTL to conduct investigations into cases of child abuse, incest, and sexual assault against children. The training, launched today at the Comoro Police Training Centre, will be conducted jointly with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), a long-term partner of the PNTL through its Timor-Leste Police Development Programme (TLPDP).

The training will provide officers with foundational investigative skills and knowledge to effectively investigate criminal offences against minors from receipt of initial complaint to the preparation of criminal files for prosecution. Key aspects of the process include applying investigative tools; crime scene management; victim support and counselling; executing search warrants; and gathering and filing evidence for prosecution.

"Child abuse happens in every country and we must not sit and be silent, we need to take action by working together. I hope the VPUs from 13 municipalities will take this opportunity to study so you can serve better. We will continue discussions with all partners to continue supporting the PNTL VPU,” said Minister of the Interior H. E. Antonio Armindo.

The EU Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Andrew Jacobs, said “Child abuse, including sexual assault, is widespread in societies around the world, including in Timor-Leste, but it is often hidden. It ruins childhoods and often damages victims permanently, leaving them unable to fulfil their potential.  I’m delighted that PNTL, through this training course, will be better equipped to address child abuse in Timor-Leste, for the good of its children and of all Timorese people.”  

The EU-funded Spotlight Initiative in Timor-Leste will contribute $15 million over three years to the elimination of gender-based violence through efforts in five areas: legislation and policies; institutional strengthening; preventing violence; providing available, accessible, and acceptable, quality services; collecting quality and reliable data; and supporting women’s movements and relevant civil society organizations.

UNDP Resident Representative, Munkhtuya Altangerel, stated that "targeted investments are required to tackle abuse against children and women. This training will shed the spotlight on the under-invested and hidden crime of sexual and other forms of abuse against minors in Timor-Leste."

For more information contact UNDP Spotlight Initiative project manager: Joao Fernandes Soares at joao.fernandes.soares@one.un.org or media.tl@undp.org .

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