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The January 12, 2010, earthquake had an immediate impact on governance and the rule of law, killing an estimated 18 percent of Haiti’s civil service and destroying key infrastructure, including the National Palace, the Parliament, 28 of 29 government ministry buildings, the headquarters of the Haitian National Police, many courts, and several correctional facilities. National elections were delayed until November 2010 as a result of the earthquake, and electoral process flaws further delayed the presidential inauguration, seating of Parliament, and subsequent government confirmation.
While Haiti’s democratic foundation is reason for optimism when compared with its authoritarian past, periods of political deadlock and chronically weak institutions present significant challenges to governance and rule of law. These challenges hinder key legislative and policy reforms and slow development efforts. However, the current administration strongly supports efforts to increase the capacity of Haiti’s rule of law institutions. To achieve long-term stability and economic growth, Haiti needs strong governmental institutions that deliver quality public services to citizens, are transparent and accountable, administer justice efficiently and in conformity with the Haitian Constitution, and that provide security to the Haitian people and protect the most vulnerable. The U.S. Government is committed to supporting a responsive, just, and effective government in Haiti that can play an increasingly lead role in the country’s economic and democratic development.
Capacity Building for the Government of Haiti
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is helping the Government of Haiti to strengthen national and local governance institutions and to establish credible political and electoral processes. Currently, our activities include:
- Strengthening the legislative and oversight functions of Parliament. USAID is providing specialized expertise to standing committees to help Parliament draft, debate, and pass priority legislation, including bills on anti-money laundering and adoptions.
- Promoting transparency and government accountability through the redeployment and extension to 34 Haitian Government offices of the Integrated Financial Management System—a network that provides for automated financial functions, enhanced control of all the expenditures of the Government of Haiti, and facilitation of investigations.
- Supporting decentralization by building the capacity of targeted municipal governments to help them more effectively plan, collect, and manage revenues, deliver basic services, coordinate emergency relief efforts, and provide services for displaced Haitians. In 2012, USAID supported a pilot project to increase tax revenues in Carrefour, which resulted in a 481 percent increase in tax receipts. A new USAID-funded project is building on the success of this pilot program.
- Supporting a credible election process. USAID’s support for the upcoming Senate and local government elections will build the capacity of the Haitian electoral authorities to conduct credible, inclusive, and legitimate elections; help non-partisan election observers to deter and detect incidents of electoral fraud and violence; and assist Haitian civil society organizations and political parties to increase women’s participation as voters, candidates, and poll workers.
- Providing strategic communications support for the Haitian government’s public service campaigns on the prevention of cholera and violence against women as well as for key government initiatives like job creation at the Caracol Industrial Park.
Improving Access to Justice and Legal Assistance
The rule of law, as carried out by justice and security institutions, is a basic foundation of human rights and individual liberties, citizen security, and economic growth. To advance the rule of law in Haiti, USAID and the U.S. Department of State are:
- Providing equipment and technical assistance to help reduce unacceptably prolonged pre-trial detention and improve case management in targeted jurisdictions. Since October 2010, 841 priority cases in illegal or prolonged pretrial detention have been processed. Of these cases, 664 were moved toward final disposition and 177 detainees were released.
- Supplying technical assistance to operationalize the Superior Judicial Council. USAID strongly supported a major step toward judicial reform in Haiti – the establishment in 2012 of Haiti’s Superior Judicial Council, a new body that will provide independent oversight of the judiciary. The U.S. Government is providing technical support to the Council, including to the Judicial Inspection Unit, which will conduct the vetting and certification of 1,000 judges. USAID provided financial and logistical support for the first Superior Judicial Council activity, a forum of the heads of the five Courts of Appeal and the deans of the 18 Courts of First Instance in Haiti.
- Providing free legal assistance to underserved residents of the Cité Soleil and Martissant neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, Croix des Bouquets, Cap Haitian, and Fort Liberte. Since October 2011, USAID has provided legal assistance to more than 8,200 individuals located principally in the poorest areas of Cite Soleil, Martissant, Saint-Marc, and Petit-Goave. The assistance helped beneficiaries to get access to justice while at the same time decreasing pressure on Haiti’s overwhelmed judicial system.
- Reconstructing more than 32,000 case files files at the Port-au-Prince Prosecutor’s Office and Court of First Instance that were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake.
- Supporting the Criminal Code Reform Commission to complete revisions to Haiti’s outdated penal and criminal procedure codes and to build support for their legislative passage. The Commission submitted the revised codes to the Government of Haiti in September 2012 with the next step being consideration by Parliament.
- Renovating corrections facilities to reinforce prison infrastructure that was severely damaged by the earthquake and provide additional space to alleviate severe overcrowding and improve overall conditions.
- Providing cross-trainings to groups of police, justice, and other officials on sexual and gender based violence, counter-trafficking in persons, crime scene management, counter-narcotics, and other critical subjects that will improve security, human rights, and women’s participation.
Strengthening the Security Sector
The Haitian National Police (HNP) is Haiti’s sole indigenous security force. Improving the HNP’s capacity and expanding its ranks are critical to the Government of Haiti’s ability to on its own maintain public order and protect vulnerable populations. Success in this area is essential to the eventual completion of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). In support of these goals, the U.S. Government is:
- Supporting the recruitment and training of new officers by providing equipment, uniforms, food and other essential supplies for cadets, as well as undertaking repairs to the national police academy, including building additional classrooms, renovating three instructor barracks, and completing a 900-seat multi-purpose facility. Since 2011, 1,061 new police officers have been trained, and a class of 1,100 cadets—the largest in HNP history—is currently underway. Haiti’s goal is to grow from its current size of approximately 10,000 to 16,000 officers in 2015.
- Bolstering the Haitian National Police counter-narcotics unit so that authorities can counter the damaging influence of narcotics trafficking. Efforts include training specially vetted police, furnishing 10 drug-sniffing dogs, providing needed vehicles, and renovating the BLTS facilities. One hundred new police officers were trained in counter-narcotics, 95 of whom were assigned to BLTS thereby tripling the size of the unit. Nearly 50 of these officers have received advanced tactical training through an agreement with the Miami Dade Police Department. With U.S. Government assistance, the BLTS has seized more drugs in 2012 than in any of the five previous years and has made significant seizures thus far in 2013.
- Facilitating in-service learning through deployment of six Haitian-American New York City Police Department officers that support the judicial police with training in investigative techniques and identify training needs for existing HNP officers, including senior management. Additionally, in 2012 and 2013 the U.S. Government funded specialized trainings for over 70 HNP officers in Colombia, Brazil, and the United States.
- Providing communications equipment to the HNP, renovating police stations, and promoting community policing techniques in violence-prone neighborhoods of Cité Soleil, Grand Ravine, and Caracol.
- Improving the capacity of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economy and Finance, , the Bureau des Affaires Financieres et Economique, and banks by providing technical assistance and training in how to detect and counter money laundering.
The U.S. Government also supports the efforts of MINUSTAH to promote a secure and stable environment in Haiti. The U.S. is currently authorized to contribute up to 100 UN police officers, ten corrections officers, and nine military officers seconded to MINUSTAH.
Protecting Human Rights and Vulnerable Populations
Increasing respect for human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations is key to U.S. assistance in Haiti. The United States funds a number of initiatives to improve physical security, provide services to victims of abuse, collect and analyze data, build institutional capacity, and empower vulnerable populations, including:
- Targeting recruitment of female police officers with special victims’ unit backgrounds. Currently, 10 female HNP officers are receiving 11 months of basic police training in Colombia.
- Improving the capacity of the Government of Haiti and non-governmental organizationsto identify and provide treatment to survivors of violence and human trafficking, including medical, rehabilitation, psychosocial, and legal services.
- Supporting economic opportunities for women including survivors of sexual violence, through programs in microcredit, short-term jobs programs, and leadership training.
- Providing health services, reintegration, and repatriation assistance to Haitian migrants.
- Protecting the rights of prisoners by reducing pretrial detention and supporting health services that address the prisoners at risk of or suffering from tuberculosis, cholera, and HIV/AIDS.
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Last updated: November 06, 2013