Centre for Security Governance (CSG) Senior Fellow Stephen Baranyi has co-authored a new report, with Yves Sainsiné, on the development of the National Police, public security and the rule of law in Haiti. The full report is available in French here. The English Executive Summary has also been published here on the SSR Resource Centre blog.
Once again, Haiti finds itself at a crossroads. Having partly recovered from a devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti is planning to hold multi-tiered elections this year. If a legitimate government and parliament emerge from that process, they could address some of the country’s deeper governance, economic, social and environmental challenges. The progress of police reforms is a crucial piece of the equation, given the significant reduction of the United Nations Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) already underway.
Reports by the UN and the Haitian National Police (HNP) suggest that considerable progress has been made since a new Police Development Plan was adopted in 2012. They flag progress in the recruitment and training of new agents, including a growing number of women cadets; the provision of advanced training for HNP officers; the vetting and disciplining of personnel accused of crimes; and the reinforcement of units such as those maintaining public order.
Yet other documents, as well as our preliminary research in the capital and the South Department, underscore major policy-practice lags or other problems:
• Insufficient growth of the HNP, particularly of its female elements;
• Weak territorial decentralization to secondary cities and smaller towns;
• Excessive use of force by public order units, often against legitimate social protests;
• The weak institutionalization of community policing and of efforts to counter violence against women;
• Poor implementation of the Haitian state’s fiscal responsibility to sustain HNP development;
• Weak HNP collaboration with civil society organizations.
The report situates those tendencies in an historical context and notes ways that the next government, civil society and the international community could collaborate to promote better HNP development, public security and rule of law in Haiti. Recommendations include:
1. Persevering in the effort to reach the target of 15000 HNP police personnel by the end of 2016, without sacrificing qualitative goals in their recruitment, training and discipline.
2. Strengthening institutional investments in territorial decentralization, community policing and gender mainstreaming, and strengthening controls over public order units.
3. Revitalizing judicial reforms initiated in recent years, while encouraging more synergies between the judiciary and the HNP Judicial Police.
4. Actually disbursing increased budgetary allocations for the HNP.
5. Encouraging greater official transparency as well as more civil society participation in budgetary, oversight, community policing and other aspects of police development.
The full report is available in French here.