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Governance, Rule of Law, and Security

Challenges

While Haiti’s growing democratic foundation is reason for optimism when compared with its authoritarian past, chronically weak institutions and instances of political deadlock present significant challenges to governance and rule of law. Compounding this was the 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 18 percent of Haiti’s civil service and destroyed much of the government’s physical infrastructure, including the National Palace, police headquarters, many courts, and all but one of 29 government ministry buildings. These complex challenges hinder key legislative and policy reforms and slow development efforts. 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 promote 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. Current activities include:
  • Strengthening the legislative and oversight functions of Parliament. USAID provided specialized expertise to standing committees to help Parliament draft, debate, and pass priority legislation, including bills on anti-money laundering, international adoptions, and human trafficking.   
  • Promoting transparency and government accountability through the redeployment and extension of the Integrated Financial Management System, which provides automated financial functions, enhanced control of all the revenues and expenditures, and facilitation of investigations. This system is currently being used in more than 35 Haitian Government offices. 
  • 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 in six new municipalities. 
  • Supporting a credible election process. USAID’s support for parliamentary and local elections slated for 2014 will help 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.

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, nearly 4,000 priority cases in illegal or prolonged pretrial detention have been processed. Of these cases, some 1,200 were moved toward final disposition and nearly 1,050 detainees were released.
  • Supplying technical assistance to operationalize the Superior Judicial Council. USAID strongly supported a major step that Haiti took in 2012 to advance judicial reform—the establishment 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 drafting of the first Superior Judicial Council work plan and its internal rules of procedure.
  • Providing free legal assistance to underserved residents of the Cité Soleil and Martissant neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc, Croix des Bouquets, Cap Haitian, and Fort Liberte. Since October 2011, USAID has provided legal assistance to nearly 11,500 individuals. The assistance helped beneficiaries to get access to justice while at the same time decreasing pressure on Haiti’s overwhelmed judicial system. 
  • Reconstructing 32,000 case 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 and constructing corrections facilities to rehabilitate prison infrastructure that was severely damaged by the earthquake and to provide additional facilities to alleviate severe overcrowding and improve overall conditions.
  • Providing cross-training 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 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, more than 2,000 new police officers have been trained with a class of 1,058 cadets - the largest in HNP history - having recently graduated from the police academy. Haiti’s goal is to grow from its current size of approximately 10,000 to 15,000 officers in 2016.  
  • Bolstering the Haitian National Police counter-narcotics unit, La Brigade de Lutte contre le Trafic de Stupéfiants (BLTS), so that authorities can counter the damaging influence of narcotics trafficking. Efforts include training specially vetted police, furnishing K-9s, providing 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 to nearly 130.  More than 70 of these officers have received advanced tactical training through an agreement with the Miami Dade Police Department. With U.S. Government assistance, the BLTS seized more drugs in 2012 than in any of the five previous years and has made significant seizures in 2013 (marijuana seizures up 390 percent, cash seizures up 1,090 percent).
  • Facilitating in-service learning through deployment of six Haitian-American New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers that supported the judicial police with training in investigative techniques, provided training to anti-kidnapping personnel, and helped the HNP set up a community policing unit in the central Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Additionally, in 2012 and 2013, the U.S. Government funded specialized trainings for over 150 HNP officers in Colombia, Brazil, and the United States.  
  • Providing infrastructure and communications support to the HNP by upgrading the police’s radio capacity and constructing new police stations in areas ranging from the violence-prone neighborhoods of Cité Soleil and Grand Ravine in Port-au-Prince to the new northern industrial park at 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.
  • Helping the HNP build their capacity by providing special technical advisors to the offices of the Director General, Inspector General, Prison Administration, Women’s Affairs, and Coast Guard. 
The U.S. Government also supports the efforts of MINUSTAH to promote a secure and stable environment in Haiti. The U.S. funds the American contingent of up to 100 UN police officers, ten corrections officers, and nine military officers that are seconded to MINUSTAH.    

Protecting Human Rights and Vulnerable Populations

Promoting respect for human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations is a key U.S. priority 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: 
  • Providing specialized training for select female police officers who work with the police special victims’ unit. Ten specially-selected female HNP officers received 11 months of basic police training in Colombia, along with specialized training on sexual and gender-based violence, and graduated from the program in December 2013.
  • Improving the capacity of the Government of Haiti and non-governmental organizations to 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 prisoners at risk of or suffering from tuberculosis, cholera, and HIV/AIDS.  
 

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Last updated: February 10, 2014

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