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, 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. The political environment in Haiti presents significant challenges to governance and rule of law, as key legislative and policy reforms have been 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 is contributing technical assistance to Parliament’s budget committees to more effectively analyze the Government of Haiti’s (GOH) budget and spending; specialized expertise to standing committees will also help Parliament to draft, debate, and pass priority legislation.
• 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 bybuilding 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 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 includedvoter 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. Since October 2010, USAID has assisted with the processing of 665 priority cases (approximately 15 percent of Haiti’s prison population) in prolonged/illegal pre-trial detention, which led to the release of 49 detainees and moving forward 616 cases towards final deposition.
• Supplying technical assistance to stand up the Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire. USAID supported the formation of the Superior Judicial Council (CSPJ), a new body which will provide oversight of the judiciary—a major step towards judicial independence in Haiti. USAID will continue to help build the institutional and technical capacities of the CSPJ to equip them with the skills, tools, systems, and organizational processes needed to effectively administer the judicial branch.
• Providing free legal assistance to residents of the Cité Soleil and Martissant neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, and Petit Goâve. Since October 2010, USAID has provided legal assistance to 4,308 individuals in three low-income and marginalized jurisdictions in order to decrease pressure on the overwhelmed judicial system.
• Reconstructing more than 20,000 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. Our support includes provision of office space, furniture, equipment, office supplies, and transportation to some meetings, as well as technical assistance.
• 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.
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 maintain 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, as well as undertaking repairs to the national police academy, including building additional classrooms and renovating three instructor barracks. In 2011, 822 new police officers were trained and there is currently a class of 241 recruits in session expected to graduate in October 2012.
• 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. The USG also recently transferred equipment (vehicles and motorcycles) to the BLTS. 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.
• 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 HNP officers, including 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 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 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 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.
• 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.