Governance and Rule of Law: Two Year Fast Facts on the U.S. Government's Work in Haiti
The January 12, 2010, earthquake had an immediate impact on governance and rule of law, killing an estimated 18 percent of Haiti’s civil service and destroying key infrastructure, including the National Palace, the Parliament, many courts, 28 of 29 government ministry buildings, the headquarters of the Haitian National Police, and several correctional facilities. National elections were delayed until November 2010 as a result of the earthquake’s impact. President Michel Martelly was inaugurated in May 2011; however, the new Prime Minister and government were not confirmed until October 2011. This political environment presented significant challenges to governance and rule of law, as key legislative and policy reforms were hindered by the political deadlock and lack of government counterparts to guide donor programs.
To achieve long-term stability and economic growth, Haiti needs strong governmental institutions that deliver public services transparently and with accountability, administer justice efficiently and in conformity with the Haitian Constitution, provide security to the Haitian people, and protect the most vulnerable. The U.S. Government (USG) is committed to supporting a responsive, just, and effective government in Haiti.
Capacity Building for the Government of Haiti
The USG, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is helping Haiti to establish credible political and electoral processes and to strengthen national and local governance institutions. Currently, our activities include:
- Strengthening the legislative and oversight functions of Parliament. USAID helped install electronic recording equipment in May 2010, which created a permanent record of the debate on proposed Constitutional Amendments and will provide transcripts of future deliberations of Haiti’s Parliament.
- Providing infrastructure and equipment to key Government of Haiti (GOH) institutions. In addition to rehabilitating buildings to house Executive Offices, USAID completed construction on a temporary Parliament building in November 2011. This structure provides 22,600 square feet of office space for Members of Parliament and staff, including space for Parliament to hold plenary sessions.
- Promoting transparency and government accountability through the redeployment and extension of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) to 34 GOH offices, a network that provides for automated financial functions, enhanced control of all GOH expenditures, and facilitation of investigations.
- Supporting decentralization by building the capacity of targeted municipal governments to effectively plan, collect, and manage revenues; deliver basic services; and coordinate emergency relief efforts and provide services for displaced Haitians. In early 2011, USAID supported a pilot project to increase tax revenues in St. Marc, which resulted in an approximately 500 percent increase in tax receipts.
- Supporting a credible election process. USAID support for the 2010-11 national elections included voter awareness campaigns to encourage turnout and inform citizens where to vote; technical assistance to and support for presidential debates, broadcast nationally on TV and more than 30 radio stations; and the deployment of more than 7,000 election observers.
- Providing strategic communications support for GOH public service campaigns on the prevention of cholera and violence against women, as well as publicity for key GOH initiatives like the Caracol Industrial Park.
Improving Access to Justice and Legal Assistance
The rule of law, as supported by justice and security institutions, is a basic foundation of citizen security and economic growth. USAID and the U.S. Department of State are:
- Providing equipment and technical assistance to reduce pre-trial detention and improve case management in targeted jurisdictions. USAID assistance has led to the expedited processing of 417 cases and the release of 50 individuals held in prolonged pre-trial detention since October 2010.
- Providing free legal assistance to vulnerable populations from the Cité Soleil and Martissant neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, and Petit Goâve. Since October 2010, USAID has provided legal assistance to more than 4,400 individuals in order to decrease pressure on the overwhelmed judicial system. USAID continues to provide support to three legal aid centers.
- Reconstructing case files at the Port-au-Prince Prosecutor’s Office and Court of First Instance that were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. Over 18,500 files have been located, reconstructed, and organized by subject matter and judge.
- Renovating the corrections sector to reinforce prison infrastructure severely damaged by the earthquake, and provide additional space to alleviate severe overcrowding.
- Providing quick-impact support to the Directorate of Prisons by funding temporary office space allowing administrative functions to continue while headquarters are rebuilt.
Strengthening the Security Sector
The Haitian National Police (HNP) is Haiti’s sole indigenous security force. Improving and expanding the capacity of the HNP is critical to the GOH’s ability to provide public order and protect vulnerable populations. The USG is:
- Supporting the recruitment and training of new officers by providing food, equipment, uniforms, and other supplies for cadets, and undertaking repairs to the national police academy. 850 new police officers were trained this past year.
- Bolstering the HNP’s counter-narcotics unit so that authorities can counter the corrupting influence of narcotics trafficking by training specially vetted police, furnishing four drug-sniffing dogs, and renovating facilities. Of the newly trained police officers, 100 were assigned to the counternarcotics unit―tripling the size of the unit.
- Facilitating in-service learning through deployment of six Haitian-American NYPD officers who support the judicial police with investigative techniques, monitor activities in settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs), and propose training needs for existing HNP officers, to include senior management. Additionally, the USG is facilitating specialized training by partnering with other countries, such as Colombia and Brazil.
- Providing communications equipment to the HNP and renovating police stations in Cité Soleil and Martissant―giving the HNP facilities in violence-prone neighborhoods, as well as providing training and assistance in community policing techniques.
- Improving the capacity of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the HNP anti-corruption units, as well as banks, by providing technical assistance and training in detecting and countering money laundering.
The USG is also supporting the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to promote a secure and stable environment under very challenging circumstances in Haiti. The U.S. currently supports the contribution of 100 U.N. Police officers, 10 corrections officers, and nine military officers seconded to MINUSTAH.
Protecting Human Rights and Vulnerable Populations
Increasing protection of human rights and vulnerable populations is key to U.S. assistance in Haiti. The United States is funding 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.
- Improving the capacity of the GOH and Non-Governmental Organizations to identify and provide treatment to survivors of violence and human trafficking, including medical, rehabilitation, psychosocial, and legal services.
- Providing economic opportunities for women and survivors of sexual violence, through microcredit, short-term jobs programs, and leadership training.
- Providing health services, reintegration, and repatriation assistance to Haitian migrants.