UN praises Haiti progress, but warns that ‘concerns remain over rule of law’

Thursday, October 04, 2012
Special representative for Haiti Mariano Fernan
 Fernández Amunátegui UN Photo/Rick Bajornas 
Washington: Haiti must focus on strengthening its rule of law institutions, including its national police and electoral council to consolidate the gains it has achieved in recent years, the United Nations Security Council heard on Wednesday (3 October 2012) as it reviewed developments in the Caribbean country.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Haiti, Mariano Fernández Amunátegui told the Council that the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the international community as a whole, recognize Haiti's right to form an armed force, but made clear that "the creation of any type of such a force should not be in detriment of the development, strengthening and professionalization of the Haitian National Police."

The Forces Armées d'Haiti (FADH) were dismantled in 1995 and there have been recent calls for their reestablishment, most notably by a group of former FADH members who had occupied Government buildings claiming unpaid pensions and calling for a new army.

Fernández presented the Secretary-General's report ahead of a vote on the extension of the Mission, which is set to expire on 15 October.

The report recommends a one year extension of the mandate and a drawdown of forces, from 7,340 to 6,270 military personnel and from 3,241 to 2,601 police officers.

Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States told the Council that the "reconfiguration and consolidation of MINUSTAH's footprint in Haiti is a delicate balancing act that we cannot afford to get wrong."

She said the United States supports the report's recommendations but stressed that these "must enable MINUSTAH to continue executing its mandate effectively."     

French Ambassador Gérard Araud said the Haitian National Police "is not yet able to independently guarantee security and stability in Haiti."

He expressed support for plans presented by the Haitian Government for 2012 to 2015, "including the objective to go from ten to fifteen thousand police officers."

The Secretary-General's report also praised efforts by Haiti's new Government, headed by President Michel Martelly, to combat corruption and smuggling, create jobs, attract foreign investment and improve socioeconomic conditions for Haitians. However, he underscored that much remains to be done to address other pressing issues, such as extreme poverty and insecurity.

Outside the Council Fernández spoke about the recent verdict by a Uruguayan Tribunal issuing prison sentences to four peacekeepers for "private violence". They had originally been accused of rape by a Haitian civilian.

Fernandez said "the Tribunal decided it was nor sexual abuse but was bullying" and praised the Uruguayan Government and court system, saying they had "behaved in an exemplary way." 
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