On April 15, 2015, Ambassador Stanton joined Superintendent of PNTL, Natircia Martins, and UNODC to open a follow-up Border Liaison Conference between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. UNODC received $1.1 million dollars from the United States to implement its Strengthening Land Border Control project. The goals of this project are: to increase capacity in border control, customs, and combatting human and drug trafficking. Thus far, the project has trained 115 officers from Border Patrol Unit and 2 officers from Customs. Through UNOCD, the US Embassy has also provided: 3 vehicles, 15 motorcycles, 3 night vision goggles, 12 illicit drug identifier kits, 13 computers, 15 radios, 3 boxes of inspection tools and basic office maintenance equipment.
About 30 people attended the event, with about 15 each from Timor-Leste Border Patrol Unit (UPF) and Indonesian border officials. The event is a forum for information sharing by both sides on updates in their work and plans moving forward. In her opening remarks, the Ambassador encouraged attendees to continue their important work, drawing on her own personal experience as a former immigration official in California before becoming a diplomat. She noted the importance of secure borders for national and international security, with emphasis on drug and human trafficking. Ambassador Stanton highlighted the arrest of a key human trafficking suspect in Batam, Indonesia, which foiled an attempt to send 212 illegal migrant workers through Timor. The suspect had been “frequently” trafficking Indonesian migrant workers through Timor-Leste to Malaysia and Singapore, and sending children from Indonesia to work illegally overseas. She noted, “stopping such crimes requires good coordination between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, with skilled border patrol units on both sides.”
At the 15th Anniversary Celebration of the PNTL, Prime Minister Rui Araujo noted that border and maritime security are two of the main priorities for the PNTL moving forward. The United States is pleased to be a part of furthering that work through programs, such as the Strengthening Land Border Control project, that further Timor-Leste’s capacity in these areas.