Fast Facts on the U.S. Government's Work in Haiti: Governance, Rule of Law, and Security
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. Periods of political deadlock and weak institutions in Haiti have presented significant challenges to governance and the rule of law, by hindering key legislative and policy reforms, the current administration strongly supports efforts geared at increasing the capacity of rule of law institutions. 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 is committed to supporting a responsive, just, and effective government in Haiti.
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 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 is contributing technical assistance to Parliament’s budget committees to more effectively analyze the Government of Haiti’s budget and spending; specialized expertise to standing committees will also help Parliament draft, debate, and pass priority legislation.
- Promoting transparency and government accountability through the redeployment and extension of the Integrated Financial Management System to 34 Haitian government offices, 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 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.
- 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 the Haitian government’s public service campaigns on the prevention of cholera and violence against women, as well as publicity for key government 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. Since October 2010, USAID has assisted with the processing of 1,025 priority cases (approximately 25 percent of the pretrial prison population in the five target jurisdictions) in prolonged/illegal pre-trial detention. This led to the release of 49 detainees and the expediting of 976 cases, including approximately 400 cases moved towards final disposition.
- Supplying technical assistance to stand up the Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire. USAID supported the formation of the Superior Judicial Council, a new body which will provide oversight of the judiciary—a major step towards judicial independence in Haiti. Since July 2011, USAID has participated in the activities of the Ministry of Justice that focused on the establishment of the Superior Judicial Council. USAID assistance included providing new office furniture and fixtures to improve the physical work environment for Superior Judicial Council staff. USAID also provided financial and logistical support to the first Superior Judicial Council activity, a forum of the heads of the 5 Courts of Appeal and the deans of the 18 Courts of First Instance in Haiti.
- Providing free legal assistance to residents of the Cité Soleil, and Martissant neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, and Petit Goâve. Since October 2011, USAID has provided legal assistance to 2,727 individuals in the slums of Cite Soleil, Martissant, Saint-Marc, and Petit-Goave in order to help improve access to justice and decrease pressure on the overwhelmed judicial system.
- Reconstructing more than 30,000 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 the outdated penal and criminal procedure codes and build support for their legislative passage. The Commission submitted the revised codes to the Government of Haiti in September 2012, where they are currently under final review prior to their transmittal to the Parliament for legislative consideration.
- Renovating corrections facilities to reinforce prison infrastructure severely damaged by the earthquake and providing 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 with U.S. funding.
- 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.
Strengthening the Security Sector
The Haitian National Police (HNP) is Haiti’s sole indigenous security force. Improving and expanding the capacity of the Haitian National Police is critical to the Government of Haiti’s ability to maintain public order and protect vulnerable populations. The U.S. Government is:
- Supporting the recruitment and training of new officers by providing food, equipment, uniforms, and other 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. In 2011, 822 new police officers were trained. A following class of 239 graduated in December 2012 and a class of 1,000 cadets is planned for February of 2013.
- Bolstering the Haitian National Police counter-narcotics unit so that authorities can counter the corrupting influence of narcotics trafficking by training specially vetted police, furnishing five additional drug-sniffing dogs in 2012, and renovating facilities in Port-au-Prince and outside the capital. The U.S. Government also recently transferred equipment (vehicles and motorcycles) to the counter-narcotics unit. Of the newly trained police officers, 100 were trained in counter-narcotics and 95 were ultimately assigned to the counter-narcotics unit―tripling the size of the unit. This unit seized more drugs in 2012 than in any of the five previous years.
- Facilitating in-service learning through deployment of six Haitian-American New York Police Department officers to Haiti to support the judicial police with investigative techniques and to identify training needs for existing Haitian National Police officers, including senior management. Additionally, the U.S. Government funded specialized training for over 100 HNP officers in Colombia and additional officers in Brazil and the U.S. in 2012.
- Providing communications equipment to the Haitian National Police and renovating police stations in Cité Soleil, Grand Ravine, and Caracol―giving the police stable facilities in violence-prone neighborhoods, as well as providing training and assistance in community policing techniques.
- Improving the capacity of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Haitian National Police anti-corruption units, as well as banks, by providing technical assistance and training in detecting and countering money laundering.
The U.S. Government is also supporting the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to promote a secure and stable environment in Haiti. The U.S. currently supports the contribution of up to 100 UN 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 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 and survivors of sexual violence, through 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, through health programming, addressing the health needs of prisoners who are at risk or suffering from tuberculosis, cholera, and HIV/AIDS.