This document outlines challenges to SSR in Haiti, focusing on policing and law enforcement. The country experienced six international interventions and two multinational forces between 1993 and 2004. However, despite these and robust SSR programming in support of the rule of law, Haiti remains a failed state facing numerous challenges. SSR activities are hampered by Haiti’s legacy of economic devastation, poverty, environmental degradation, gang violence and serious human rights violations.
Since the disbanding of the Haitian army in 1995, the Haitian National Police (HNP) is the only institution that can apply and enforce the law. Progress in the creation a professional police force was quickly lost with a series of events beginning with the ousting of President Aristide in 2001 by a military coup and the disengagement of the international community. With the deployment of MINUSTAH in 2004, it took nearly 2 years for the reform process to begin to take hold once more. Since then, police reform and vetting have steadily moved forward, a process that is largely attributed to the political space created by President Preval. However, a minimum standard of security has yet to be attained, and there is still a high degree of public mistrust towards the HNP.
SSR in Haiti lacks a base from which to develop capacity since the previous rule of law framework was inadequate, failing to meet international standards. Key challenges to SSR in the country include the following:
- Poor resourcing and a lack of coherence among national and international actors
- Corruption within national security and judiciary institutions
- Gender-based violence is a significant problem and there is little recourse available to women to obtain justice
- Environmental factors, including natural disaster and fuel and food crises compound the difficulties faced by the UN’s MINUSTAH intervention
- Poor communication between MINUSTAH and the population cultivates a lack of trust in the legitimacy of international actors, made worse as intervention has led to little improvement to quality of life
- There is a tension between policing and militarism in Haiti, with political forces wishing to reconstitute the Haitian army.
A number of lessons for future programming are highlighted:
- Lack of coordination between UN agencies, local agencies and donors means that resources are wasted and plans are ineffectively implemented
- The international community has so far failed to take advantage of connections between security and development in planning and in the implementation of SSR
- SSR programmes need to incorporate local consultation in order to bolster the legitimacy of MINUSTAH and enhance public confidence
- Adequate resourcing to build policing capacity needs to become a sustained focus of SSR programmes in the country.