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Timor Police Brutality Video

Police brutality in Timor-Leste is not new, but getting it on video is.  This is something of a “Rodney King” moment for Timor-Leste and its police service.

pntl brutality

Timor Police (PNTL – Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste) brutality captured on video. (Screen grab courtesy A.Tilman)

On 21 January 2010 a video showing what is apparently a serious case of police brutality was published online via facebook and then very quickly afterward on YouTube. The video speaks for itself.  The video was picked up almost immediately by some Timor bloggers, including but not limited to Timor Hau Nia Doben.

During the Portuguese colonial period, the administration and its police were regularly abusive towards Timorese.  Between 1975-99 Indonesia's Suharto regime occupied Timor-Leste and police brutality was both regular and extreme.  Since Timor-Leste gained its independence in 2002 police brutality has been at a much lower level although no one keeps decent records. However, it has been the subject of considerable media attention recently.  Tempo Semanal weekly newspaper has covered the issue several occasions in the past two months on its weblog (Story one, two and three).

The video was released initially by Opposition Member of Parliament for the FRETILIN party, Jose Teixeira.  His facebook page comment attached to the video is read below.

Ida nee mosu iha Atauro bainhira iha inaugurasan ba kompetisaun internasional kail ikan…….asaun viola direitus humanus neebe labele tolera iha ita nia rain.

This occurred in Atauro when they inaugurated the international fishing competition…..this action is a violation of human rights and cannot be tolerated in our country.

Atauro island, lies 10km off the coast of Timor-Leste north of the capital city, Dili – and as such lies within the jurisdiction of Dili District.  Dili District is supposedly under the executive police control of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

Interestingly, at least two United Nations Police officers are seen in the video, and they watch events calmly even as one PNTL officer rushes into the fracas to hit the victim with the butt of a shotgun.  The video ends with them and other bystanders, both Timorese and foreign, watching the police drag the victim off the beach, out of frame and into the bushes.

United Nations police officer watchs as Timorese police bash a local youth with fists, feet and a shotgun shoulder butt.

United Nations police officer watchs as Timorese police bash a local youth with fists, feet and a shotgun shoulder butt.

It is unknown if any investigative or disciplinary action took place. It appears unlikely seeing as the person who released the online version of the video appeared surprised and shocked by events.  This individual is also member of the National Parliament's Committee B for National Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs, and as such oversees the police.

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