More Jakarta, Less Juba: The Influence of Indonesia on police development in Timor-Leste

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 18 March 2014


Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra


Gordon Peake


Louana Gaffey
+61 2 6125 8244


This seminar will examine the influences on police development in Timor-Leste, whose police service may well lay claim to be the recipient of the most diverse amounts of advice, guidance and training of anywhere in the world. More than ten thousand or so international police officers have passed through one of the five separate United Nations peacekeeping missions that operated in Timor-Leste from 1999-2012. On top of their UN contributions, Australia and Portugal have dedicated significant additional resources in the form of bilateral programs. Additionally, there have been a near countless series of one-off seminars, trainings and schemes ranging from crime courses at the FBI to facilitated discursions on the merits of Bangladeshi community policing.

Ironically, perhaps the country that has had the most potent influencer and serves as a primary source of emulation for the Timorese police is the one that used to occupy it, Indonesia. In Timor-Leste, contemporary Indonesia serves as an alluring model of modernity and development in many spheres and policing is no exception. Indonesia is the key reference point for many Timorese police officers, most of whom were born after the end of Portuguese rule while more seasoned members of the Timorese police began their careers as Indonesian officers, working for the Indonesian police during the occupation. There are other similarities. Indonesian companies supply the guns, the communications equipment and build many of the Timorese police stations. Even the police uniforms of the two countries look very similar, right down to practically identikit toy-town badges of individual police units. . At the same time as the effect of donors is diminishing the relationship between Indonesia and Timor-Leste becomes ever closer, with policing but one of many areas in which cooperation is occurring. Indonesia, which was pushed a model the least, may have been the greatest source of policy borrowing.

In comparative terms, Timor-Leste is often situated with other post-conflict countries but teasing out points of similarity with Indonesia have, surprisingly, been relatively little explored by scholars. In this seminar, Gordon Peake will discuss the policy implications of such strong linkages.


Gordon Peake is a Research Fellow at SSGM. He worked with the Timorese police from 2007-11. His book about the country, Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles & Secrets from Timor-Leste was published in 2013.


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