INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Idp Return Plans and Security Issues

Published: Wed 9 Aug 2006 02:49 AM
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DILI 000405
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
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PACOM FOR POLAD AND JOC
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SUBJECT: IDP RETURN PLANS AND SECURITY ISSUES
REF: DILI 404
DILI 00000405 001.2 OF 002
1. (SBU) Summary: In a conversation with Charge d'Affaires on
August 7, Anna Pessoa, the Minister for State Administration,
discussed the current state of planning for the return of as
many as 150,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) to their
homes in Dili. Noting the deteriorated security environment of
recent days (see reftel), she emphasized the necessity of
adequate security provisions before IDPs would consider
returning. The most important single element of this in her
opinion is the establishment of 24 hour fixed police posts in
all neighborhoods, at least for the initial return period, which
she said will require the rapid reintegration of the national
police (PNTL) to reach the necessary numbers. Noting that a
plan for screening the Dili PNTL was nearing finalization, she
argued that the plan must be "concretized" and then implemented
expeditiously. Another security concern she discussed is the
wide reluctance on the part of the population to reveal the
identities of perpetrators, especially leaders, of gang and mob
violence. She reported that she is working with the Prosecutor
General to make arrangements to ensure witness confidentiality
and safety. On a separate issue, Pessoa reported that she will
this week ask the Council of Ministers (cabinet) to renew the
mandate of the commission to investigate the complaints of the
nearly 600 soldiers dismissed from the armed forces in March.
End summary.
2. (SBU) Charge d'Affaires Whitman met with Minister for State
Administration Anna Pessoa on August 7. Pessoa has been a close
ally of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and remains a
central player in the ruling Fretilin party. Pessoa began by
expressing her concern regarding the recent spike of gang
violence in Dili. In her opinion, the events of the last few
days "have not been spontaneous, have not been unorganized."
She was also critical of the international police response,
noting that they were "moving too slowly" and that she
understood the need for them to have an initial start up period,
but that time is past and they "should now be able to guarantee
internal security."
3. (U) Minister Pessoa outlined the plan that she envisions for
the return of IDPs to their communities. She said that this
plan is her ministry's proposal, but that she is coordinating
with both the Ministry of Labor and Social Reinsertion and the
Ministry of Public Works and it will be discussed by the
inter-ministerial working group on IDP return. She believes
there is a general consensus on the broad outlines of the plan,
but many specifics to be worked out. The plan described by
Pessoa included the following sequential steps: 1) Discussions
with the communities to which IDPs are to return, at the village
and sub-village level, to prepare them for the return of former
residents and to address concerns; 2) discussions with IDPs in
the camps to ready them for return; 3) establishment of 24-hour
police posts in communities to which IDPs are to return; 4)
community meetings between IDPs and the community to which they
are to return; 5) IDPs given three months supply of basic
supplies when they depart the camps permanently. She noted that
this basic plan does not yet address all the issues as there are
multiple cases where people's houses have been burned or where
others are illegally occupying their houses which will have to
be addressed through legal processes.
4. (U) Pessoa emphasized that the lynchpin of any IDP return
plan will be security. Reporting that she had been talking to
IDPs and to the elected village chiefs in the communities all of
whom had told her, "Our people will not be willing to go back
unless there is 24-hour police presence in their community."
She does not see this as a permanent need, but an arrangement to
be in place for the first few weeks as communities reintegrate.
5. (SBU) In order to meet the goal of 24-hour police presence in
the communities, Pessoa stressed that reintegration of the PNTL
into Dili policing must occur as soon as possible in order to
have the numbers required for this. Therefore, the screening of
the PNTL must start immediately. She commented on the plan for
DILI 00000405 002.2 OF 002
police screening and reintegration presented last week to the
Prime Minister, expressing considerable skepticism about its
practicability. The overall plan was good she said, but it
lacked details regarding the timetable and specific steps
involved. Moreover, she implied that it lacked the inclusion of
input from the communities regarding individual police who they
may regard as unacceptable. She also discussed the over 200 new
PNTL officers who graduated from the academy in June. While
agreeing that they too should undergo some kind of screening she
believes that it can be less rigorous than for the PNTL who were
active during the lead up to the crisis. These new graduates,
she said, should be screened and brought on board within no more
than two weeks.
6. (U) Pessoa also discussed the problem of impunity for many of
the perpetrators of gang violence because community members and
IDP camp residents are too afraid to identify them. Justice for
perpetrators will be a key element of the security needed for
IDP return, but will be impossible if people remain too
terrified to reveal needed information. She reported that she
has been discussing the issue with the Prosecutor General with
the goal of improving arrangements to ensure witness
confidentiality and safety. She noted that most of the crimes
SIPDIS
being committed are public crimes and should be pursued on that
basis, without requiring the involvement of the victim. She is
pushing for an arrangement whereby the elected village chiefs
could serve as a channel for information to the Prosecutor's
office.
7. (U) On a separate issue, Pessoa relayed that the commission
to address the complaints of the 595 soldier (known as the
"petitioners") dismissed from the armed forces (F-FDTL) in March
after they went on strike to protest alleged discrimination has
yet to restart its work. Pessoa was to lead the commission, but
its work was soon truncated by the refusal of the "petitioners"
to cooperate and the deterioration of the security situation in
May. According to Pessoa, the three-month mandate of the
original commission has run out and it will therefore require a
new mandate from the Government. She plans to raise the issue
at this week's Council of Ministers meeting to request a new
mandate. She remarked that it will need the clear support of
the Prime Minister accompanied by assurances that they can work
without interference.
WHITMAN
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