MINUSTAH Releases Semi-Annual Report (August 31 - March 15)

  • Posted on: 14 March 2013
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
News: 

Below is the latest semi-annual report from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) covering the period from August 31st - March 15th. The report provides an overview of key developments during this time, especially police capacity, rule of law, and human rights promotion - all of which need to be strengthened significantly before MINUSTAH can fully transition its responsibilities to the Haitian government.    

 

United Nations  S/2013/139

Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

 

Introduction:  By its resolution 2070 (2012), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until 15 October  2013 and requested me to report on its implementation semi-annually and not later than 45 days prior to its expiration. The present report covers major developments from the issuance of my report of 31 August 2012 (S/2012/678) until 12 March 2013 and outlines activities undertaken by the  Mission in line with its mandate under Council resolutions 1542 (2004), 1608 (2005), 1702 (2006), 1743 (2007), 1780 (2007), 1840 (2008), 1892 (2009), 1908 (2010), 1927 (2010), 1944 (2010), 2012(2011) and 2070 (2012).

 

Political situation: The period under review posed numerous challenges to the stabilization process in Haiti. The country suffered extensive damage following the passage of Hurricane Sandy late in October, in addition to widespread and repeated civil unrest, mainly linked to socioeconomic grievances. Continued disagreements between the executive branch and opposition parliamentarians contributed to quasi-paralysis at the political level. Consequently, advances in the strengthening of rule of law institutions, the adoption of key legislation and the establishment of the Electoral Council mandated to organize long-overdue elections did not materialize. The President of Haiti, Michel Joseph Martelly, succeeded in forming a pro-Government majority grouping of at least 60 deputies in the Chamber of Deputies, Parlementaires pour la stabilité  et le progrès, a goal that had hitherto eluded him. On 16 January 2013, the leader of this majority group, Jean Tholbert Alexis (Ansanm Nou Fo, West epartment), was elected as President of the Chamber of Deputies, while Simon Dieuseul Desras (Lavni, Centre Department) was re-elected as President of the Senate. On 21 January, the Prime Minister, Laurent Salvador Lamothe, announced the second partial reshuffling of the Cabinet in five months.

 

The creation of a pro-Government parliamentary bloc notwithstanding, relations between the executive branch and Parliament remained strained. On 13 December, the Government came under pressure from the Senate when the Prime Minister announced that he was not prepared to report on the allocation of funds disbursed within the framework of the state of emergency. Furthermore, the 20-member strong minority opposition bloc within the Chamber of Deputies, Parlementaires pour le renforcement institutionnel, denounced the Government’s handling of the socioeconomic situation and, in particular, criticized the Office of the Prime Minister for allegedly favouring pro-Government deputies in the disbursement of public funds allocated to the communes under the 2011/12 budget.  In protest, on 14 January, these parliamentarians obstructed the Prime Minister’s presentation at the opening session of the National Assembly, causing him to leave the Chamber. The period also witnessed protracted disagreements over the establishment of an electoral council. The President’s establishment by decree of a six-member permanent electoral council in July 2012 with members designated by the executive and the judiciary was widely considered illegitimate. The Constitution provides for a nine-member electoral body, including three members designated by Parliament. Compounded by the end of the term of office of 10 of the 30 senators on 8 May 2012, the inability of the Senate to reach  the constitutionally required two-thirds majority to designate the three representatives resulted in a stalemate between the executive branch and Parliament. 

 

Early in November, against the backdrop of mounting criticism of the President’s handling of this rocess, the executive branch initiated negotiations with Parliament, mediated by the religious coalition Religions pour la paix. These negotiations resulted in an agreement on 24 December to proceed with the establishment of a temporary electoral council. Under that agreement, nine members representing the three branches of government would have a time-bound mandate to organize the forthcoming partial legislative, municipal and local elections, after which a permanent electoral council would be established.  This breakthrough notwithstanding, the momentum generated by the agreement stalled in the following two months. The three branches of government did not succeed in finalizing the appointment and installation of the nine members of the temporary electoral council. Faced with increasing national and international pressure, renewed efforts were made late in February to honour the agreement, but the council had yet to be established by the end of the reporting period. As that stalemate persisted, allegations of anti-democratic practices were levelled against the executive branch by a number of opposition parliamentarians, political parties such as Organisation du peuple en lutte, civil society groups such as the National Human Rights Defense Network and representatives of the media such as the Association of Haitian Journalists. These criticisms cited alleged politicization of State institutions such as the judiciary and the Haitian National  Police, in addition to repression of freedom of expression, following a controversial statement issued by the Minister of Justice and Public Security during the carnivalcelebrations, in which he warned against defamation.

 

Security assessment:  The overall security situation throughout the reporting period remained relatively stable, although it was marked by an increase in civil unrest and major crimes. Frequent anti-Government demonstrations occurred in protest at the Administration’s perceived inability to tackle lawlessness, the high cost of living and food insecurity and meet demands for the delivery of basic services. From August to October 2012, the number of demonstrations held per month tripled from 22 to 64, before decreasing in November and December. Areas particularly affected by demonstrations, some of which were violent, included Cap Haïtien (North Department), Jacmel (South-East Department) and Jérémie (Grand-Anse Department).  Crime statistics collected by the national police and MINUSTAH showed an upward trend in homicides, with a monthly average of 79 homicides from September to December 2012, up from 60 during the same period in 2011. Moreover, there was a 13 per cent increase in the total number of homicides reported in 2012 (1,033 cases). A major factor explaining this rise is the recurrence of clashes between gangs, some of which appear to be instigated by political actors. Violence and gang activity continued to be concentrated in major urban centres, with approximately 75 per cent of homicides in 2012 taking place in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. There was also an increase in the number of kidnappings, with a monthly average of 18, compared with 12 during the same period in 2011. The average monthly number of reported rapes rose to 40 from 33 in the same period in 2011.  While there was no further reappearance of former armed forces elements during the reporting period, instances of local authorities employing armed elements for their own personal security or to control particular locations were observed, notably in Les Cayes (South Department), Cité Soleil (West Department) and Ouanaminthe (North-East Department). Although the performance of the national police has continued to improve, the force is not yet in a position to assume full responsibility for the provision of internal security throughout the country. In this context, MINUSTAH continued to play a vital role in maintaining overall security and stability. In concert with the national police, the Mission maintained its military and police presence in violence-prone areas and in certain camps for internally displaced persons. From September to December 2012, the military and police components carried out 12,214 joint patrols with the national police in Port-au-Prince and its vicinity and 20,541 joint patrols in the rest of the country. 

 

Humanitarian, recovery and economic update: Significant strides were made in 2012 regarding the resettlement of persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake. According to the International Organization for  Migration, some 347,000 internally displaced persons were living in 450 sites in  January 2013. This brings the total number of displaced persons who left the camps between 2010 and early 2013 to 1,178,000, an overall reduction of 77 per cent, which can largely be attributed to the return programmes launched by the Government with the support of the United Nations and other humanitarian partners. Among the population remaining in the camps, 84 per cent are persons displaced by the earthquake. Many continue to depend on assistance for their basic survival. Living conditions in the camps continued to deteriorate. In October 2012, open-air defecation was visible in 42 per cent of camps, compared with 37 per cent in August 2012 and 34 per cent in October 2011, while chlorinated water was provided at only 35 per cent of community water supply points, compared with 49 per cent in August 2012 and 66 per cent in October 2011. There are currently an estimated 72 camp residents per functional latrine against internationally accepted standards indicating a maximum of 50. This reduction in basic service provision in the camps is largely due to the departure of many humanitarian partners because of diminishing availability of funds. The 2012 consolidated appeal concluded the year at 46 per cent of its funding level, with the number of international non-governmental organizations present in Haiti declining by 57 per cent since 2010.

 

Haiti continued to face significant humanitarian challenges and deteriorating food security. Drought conditions, combined with the effects of Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaac, left 2.1 million people at risk and increased the possibility of a nutrition crisis. To mobilize the resources necessary to respond to the most pressing needs, the United Nations and humanitarian actors supported the Government in issuing an emergency appeal for an additional $39 million in October 2012. Donors responded rapidly by mobilizing 46 per cent of the requested funds within two weeks. In consultation with national authorities, United Nations and humanitarian actors in the country further developed a humanitarian action plan for 2013, focusing on food insecurity and cholera, requiring an estimated $144 million.  The Administration initiated measures to respond to grievances linked to the increased cost of living and food insecurity in the aftermath of damage caused to the country’s agriculture by Hurricane Sandy. They included the issuance on 5 November of a presidential decree instituting a state of emergency, which allowed accelerated disbursement of public funds. The President also announced agricultural production and environmental protection as government priorities in 2013 in order to improve food self-sufficiency and mitigate the impact of future natural disasters. In December 2012, the International Monetary Fund assessed the macroeconomic situation in Haiti as stable, while noting that economic growth in the fiscal year 2012 was estimated at just 2.5 per cent, below the target of 4.5 per cent. Growth was stymied in 2012 not only by the combined impact of drought, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy, but also by delayed reconstruction efforts and poor implementation of public capital spending. Mainly as a result of higher food prices, annual inflation rose from 6.5 per cent in September 2012 to 7.5 per cent in November 2012. Revenue collection from taxes and Customs duties in the fiscal year 2012 was below the budget targets, standing at $1.7 billion (G70.1 billion). The 2012/13 budget increased by 8.7 per cent compared with the prior year, for a total of $3.2 billion (G131 billion). Not all the Government’s declared priority areas (agriculture, education,  rule of law, energy, environment and employment) received budget increases. While a 2 per cent increase was allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development (7.5 per cent of the total budget), the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training saw a 2 per cent decline (14.7 per cent of  the total budget), commitments made to universal education and a 10 per cent increase in teachers’ salaries notwithstanding.  The Ministry of Justice and Public Security received 5.76 per cent of the total budget, 83 per cent of which was earmarked for the national police.

 

Support for the political process:  My Special Representative engaged intensively with Haitian political decision makers to advocate progress on critical processes such as the launch of the electoral calendar and the elaboration of a consensual legislative agenda for 2013. With regard to the elections, my Special Representative made a number of proposals to the President, the presidents of the Senate and the  Chamber of Deputies and the Superior Council of the Judiciary to assist in finalizing appointments to the Electoral Council. MINUSTAH also closely cooperated with the country’s international partners, including the diplomatic corps in Port-au-Prince, to create momentum around the Government’s key priorities. MINUSTAH is currently holding a series of discussions with the Government to establish working groups focused on the Mission’s core mandated activities under its consolidation plan.

 

Support for the forthcoming elections: Delays in the establishment of the Electoral Council and recent disruptive staffing changes of its civil servants notwithstanding, MINUSTAH and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided substantial support to the administration of the electoral body and maintained operational preparedness for the holding of elections. MINUSTAH and UNDP were able to support the elaboration of amendments to the draft electoral law. At the technical level, MINUSTAH continued to engage in training Electoral Council staff in communications and geographic information technologies, strengthening the capacity of the voter registry (together with UNDP) and providing expert advice to a government working group on electoral boundary delimitation.

 

Military: During the reporting period, the military component of MINUSTAH continued to fulfil its primary mission of maintaining a secure and stable environment, in addition to enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance and preparing for disaster response. Several security operations were conducted in accordance with the established procedure, whereby operations are led by the national police with support from the United Nations police and the military component. These operations included Checkmate I and II in September 2012, which focused on disrupting gang activities in the Santo and Croix des Bouquets areas (West Department). Other operations conducted in September, October and November targeted gang activity in the Bel-Air and Delmas 2 areas of Port-au-Prince (West Department). In November, two operations took place aimed at reducing criminal activities in Simon Pelé, Boston and the Cité aux Cayes areas of Port-au-Prince. In December, two further operations were conducted in the South Department, where there is no longer a permanent MINUSTAH military presence. In addition to providing extensive engineering support to the Mission, the MINUSTAH military engineering companies supported a wide range of government recovery priorities aimed at improving  living and security conditions for the population, which included road repair, well-drilling, drainage and canal cleaning, water distribution and the erection of prefabricated units.The withdrawal of the MINUSTAH military component from the four lower security risk departments (Grand-Anse, Nippes, North-West and South) allowed for the reduction of the military footprint without significantly affecting overall security and stability. Riots in Jérémie (Grand-Anse Department) late in November 2012 and in January 2013, however, underscored the need for MINUSTAH to continue to be able to airlift a quick reaction force to remote areas in support of the national police.

 

Police:  On 31 August 2012, the Superior Council of the Haitian National Police took the long-awaited decision to adopt the 2012-2016 national police development plan. On 12 September, the former head of the central directorate of the judicial police, Godson Orélus, was appointed as the new Director General of the national police. These events were followed by several meetings of the Superior Council with the Government, international partners and MINUSTAH to discuss the implementation of the development plan. The important contributions by bilateral partners to police development notwithstanding, funding remains insufficient for all targets of the plan to be achieved. At a minimum, the share of the government budget allocated to the national police will have to increase in order to cover the salaries of the growing force. The generous assistance of the international community will remain critical to enabling the national police to meet major benchmarks by 2016.  During the reporting period, the national police achieved significant results in fighting crime, arresting 55 suspected kidnappers and accomplices and at least 58 suspects wanted for drug trafficking and prison evasion. This improvement in performance is partly attributable to support provided by MINUSTAH forces in the prevention of and efforts to combat violence and crime, including enhanced sharing of information with the national police and increased joint operations.  To reach the objective of increasing the number of active police officers from the current 10,181 to a minimum of 15,000 by 2016, the national police will have to significantly increase its intake of recruits. With the graduation of only 239 new cadets on 21 December, the twenty-third national police promotion fell far short of the minimum of 1,000 cadets required per promotion. This appears to have been due in part to the rigorousness of medical tests and the short duration and limited geographic coverage of recruitment campaigns. The national police is working closely with MINUSTAH to tackle these issues and ensure that the twenty-fourth promotion, scheduled to begin by March 2013, comprises at least 1,000 cadets. Already, the twenty-fourth promotion recruitment campaign has seen the number of applicants registering for admission exams more than double compared with the twenty-third promotion.   Joint certification and vetting activities by the national police and MINUSTAH continued nationwide. For the first time since the beginning of the vetting process, a critical milestone was reached with the decision by the Minister of Justice and Public Security to dismiss 79 vetted officers. Acting on the recommendation of the Director General of the national police, MINUSTAH and the national police jointly conducted initial background checks as part of the screening process of Police School applicants. In addition, efforts are under way to certify the first group of some 3,500 current police officers whose cases have been fully reviewed and who have been found fit to serve.

 

Progress in the development of an oversight capacity within the national police has fallen short of expectations. On 21 January 2013, the Minister of Justice and Public Security unexpectedly replaced the Inspector General, Abner Vilmé, after nine months in service. Before his dismissal, he had successfully conducted several inquiries into allegations of human rights violations by police officers and had recommended the dismissal of several officers. The Director General of the national police and the Minister of Justice and Public Security have to date failed to act upon his recommendations, however. That the Inspector General  remains under the authority of the Director General and has been replaced three times over the past 12 months raises questions about the independence and effectiveness of the oversight body. Furthermore, the Inspectorate General struggles with insufficient personnel, compounded by a shortage of equipment, specialized training and financial resources. The newly appointed Inspector General has, however, pledged to build an independent and strong institution. Meanwhile, MINUSTAH and the national police have jointly developed human rights modules that have been integrated into the basic training curriculum for police cadets. 

 

Protection of vulnerable groups:  The Mission’s military and police components maintained their presence in camps for the internally displaced and in fragile, urban communities prone to crime where women are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. The MINUSTAH police component promoted the concept of community-oriented policing in coordination with camp committees in order to improve the protection of the population and to foster public trust in the national police. Of the remaining 450 sites for internally displaced persons, three high-risk camps have been secured by a 24-hour MINUSTAH security presence (Jean-Marie-Vincent, Pétion-Ville Club and Corail Cesselesse), while 40 additional camps have been secured through daily patrols. The remaining sites were subject to random patrols. During the reporting period, the military and police components conducted 17,677 patrols in camps for internally displaced persons in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

 

Community violence reduction: Under its programme to reduce community violence, MINUSTAH continued to conduct stabilization initiatives in fragile urban communities, addressing the persistent weakness of the country’s security institutions, political volatility and criminal gang activities. The Mission tackled those issues by supporting large-scale, labour-intensive environmental projects, professional skills training and income-generating activities to provide former  gang members, at-risk young people and vulnerable groups with socioeconomic alternatives to crime and violence. The Mission completed 44 of 57 projects, valued at $9 million, under the 2011/12 budget. Meanwhile, 31 new projects have been initiated under the 2012/13 budget. During the reporting period, 35 labour-intensive projects on watershed management, city infrastructure and canal rehabilitation provided temporary employment to an estimated 44,000 at-risk young people. A total of 1,500 of those young people and vulnerable women attended professional skills training and received job placement and psychosocial support to facilitate their integration into the national workforce. Furthermore, in partnership with the national authorities and civil society organizations, the Mission reached an estimated 65,000 people through 70 anti-violence awareness-raising sessions.

 

Provision of support to State institutions: In 2012, the Administration replaced locally elected authorities whose term had expired in 2011 with political appointees in 129 of the country’s 140 communes, leading to heightened tensions in some municipalities. Internal staffing changes within the Ministry of the Interior and Territorial Communities also jeopardized some of the progress made in capacity-building programmes. Those replacements notwithstanding, MINUSTAH continued to provide support for the implementation of the 2012/13 municipal budgets. As at 17 January, 128 of 140 municipal budgets had been analysed and validated by the Ministry.  In January 2013, in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior and Territorial Communities and international partners, MINUSTAH participated in a joint evaluation mission of vice-delegations and municipalities in the North and North-East Departments. This evaluation revealed that the departmental delegations and vice-delegations remained weak, lacked skilled personnel, office space and equipment, and faced mounting salary arrears. To take on those problems, the Mission is supporting the Ministry to develop a capacity-building programme aimed at improving planning and the administrative and financial management skills of the vice-delegations. Furthermore, the Mission is supporting a government-led programme to support governance and local investment through which a pilot project to revitalize the decentralization process in the North and North-East Departments will be launched. The Mission continued to provide technical and logistical assistance to facilitate the adoption of the country’s legislative agenda and the functioning of Parliament. The adoption of the 2013 legislative agenda scheduled for 9 January 2013 was postponed to allow more time for discussions among stakeholders. Priority bills being considered for inclusion in the agenda include those against corruption, money-laundering and financing of terrorism and those on the financing of political parties and public service. Legislative priorities also include the revision of the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Civil Code, etc.

 

In line with the programme of the Prime Minister, MINUSTAH supported the Haitian Customs Authority, under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to strengthen management and revenue collection capacity at ports of entry. Its support included the provision of technical assistance to the Customs Authority for the development, adoption and, to date, partial implementation of a strategic plan for the rehabilitation of the Customs Surveillance Directorate (Customs police). Within the framework of a joint strategy, MINUSTAH and UNDP have provided management and curriculum development assistance to the School of Magistrates to ensure adequate initial and continuing training of magistrates and clerks. The Mission embedded a staff member in the office of the head of the School to assist in developing a training implementation plan covering the period from October 2012 to March 2014 and to draft course modules on such topics as the management of crime scenes, the standardization of judicial files, juvenile justice (training for trainers), judicial ethics and gender-based violence.

 

Quick-impact projects:  During the reporting period, MINUSTAH successfully implemented 133 quick-impact projects. As at the end of January 2013, an additional 74 projects were under implementation and 32 had been approved and were about to be launched. They were identified in accordance with the Mission’s established priorities, in partnership with Haitian authorities and civil society. They included: containing the cholera epidemic and preventing other water-borne diseases (48 projects); enhancing safety and security in impoverished and insecure areas through the installation of  public solar lighting (39 projects); creating revenue generation and livelihood opportunities for the most deprived communities (12 projects); supporting rule of law institutions and good governance (67 projects); and rehabilitating other public  infrastructure and buildings (73 projects).

 

Justice: For several months following its establishment in July 2012, the Superior Council of the Judiciary was unable to focus on its mandated oversight of the judiciary because it was embroiled in controversy over the initial and procedurally flawed vote on the designation of its Electoral Council members. Those obstacles notwithstanding, MINUSTAH supported the Superior Council in the preparation of internal regulations and in the development of a process to handle complaints relating to irregularities in judicial conduct. The proper functioning of the Superior Council takes on added importance in  the context of a number of recent appointments of justices of the peace by the inistry of Justice and Public Security. In many cases, appointees appear to lack the required legal qualifications and experience. Given that such appointments could undermine the legitimacy and independence  of the judiciary, and have already negatively affected the functioning of courts in several departments, the Superior Council’s eventual review of these cases is of critical importance. MINUSTAH has offered technical assistance to the Superior Council in handling complaints in thisregard. It has also assisted the Superior Council in collecting documentation to verify the qualifications of more than 500 justices of the peace so as not to preclude their possible reappointment at the end of their current term. MINUSTAH has noted that the collection of evidence for prosecution is generally unsatisfactory, hampering the  ability of the judicial authorities to investigate violent acts and prosecute criminals. An unusually high number of cases rely primarily or exclusively on confessions. To improve the quality of evidence available for prosecution, MINUSTAH has funded the reconstruction of the Forensics Institute. This will make it possible to conduct autopsies and eventually also include examinations of victims of non-homicidal crimes. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security have not yet been able to render the Institute operational. An additional concern is the prosecution of certain high-profile criminals, which has been subject  to political interference. A case in point is that of Calixte Valentin, a policy adviser to the President who, although accused of murder, was conditionally released from pretrial detention. Such release, which is provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code, is very rarely applied and does not benefit the vast majority of detainees, suggesting that he was granted undue favour.

 

The leadership of the prosecutor’s office in Port-au-Prince has been characterized by instability. The current Chief Prosecutor, Lucmane Delille, is the eighth person to hold the position since the President took office on 14 May 2011. He was preceded by Harrycidas Auguste, Sonel Jean-François, Félix Léger, Lionel Constant Bourgoin, Jean Renel Sénatus, Elco Saint Armand and Gérald Norgaisse.Jean Renel Sénatus has stated that he was dismissed in September 2012 owing to his refusal to comply with what he considered an illegal order from the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Jean Renel Sanon, with whom he then traded accusations of corruption. In February 2013, a report on rule of law indicators in Haiti was published, following a survey carried out in September and October 2011 and consultations with national authorities. While some of the findings point to an emerging degree of public trust in the judiciary, serious deficiencies in administrative and management capacity were noted, together with a lack of resources for the justice system.  

 

Corrections: MINUSTAH provided the Prison Administration with technical and capacitybuilding support and participated in the working group led by it. The Prison Administration finalized standard operating policies for the prison system with support from MINUSTAH and plans for their implementation in the country’s 18 prisons are in progress. The new prison at Croix des Bouquets (West Department) was inaugurated on 28 October 2012. Construction projects that increased cell capacity and improved sanitation for the prisoners were completed in five additional prisons. The construction of the new Prison Administration headquarters was also completed. Immediate challenges include supporting the development of the new five-year strategic management plan in a context of decreasing donor assistance. MINUSTAH is collaborating with other agencies in developing new programmes aimed at addressing the excessive use of illegal pretrial detention.

 

Human rights: The Mission continued to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Haiti and assist the Haitian authorities and civil society through capacity-building activities. On 24 September, on the occasion of his speech at the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, held in New York, the Prime Minister stressed the country’s commitment to accession to and ratification of international human rights instruments, in line with he recommendations made by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. On 30 November, 21 years after ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Haiti submitted its very first report to the Human Rights Committee, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Covenant. Some progress in building capacity and the ratification of international human rights instruments notwithstanding, key challenges and systemic deficiencies remain, in particular with regard to phenomena such as impunity, corruption, extended periods of pretrial detention, forced evictions from camps, lynching and child slavery.  Sexual and gender-based violence remains a concern, in particular in impoverished districts of Port-au-Prince, camps for internally displaced persons and remote areas of the country. The Mission’s Human Rights Section has developed strategy on sexual and gender-based violence, in collaboration with the police, justice, gender and child protection components, ensuring that human rights standards and principles are integrated into the Mission’s approach to sexual and gender-based violence. During the reporting period, the gender focal points of the MINUSTAH police component and the national police initiated actions to raise awareness among potential victims of sexual violence of available services and the importance of submitting their complaints to the justice system. In addition, the Mission delivered its sexual and gender-based violence training-of-trainers course to 52 instructors of the national police in September and October 2012.

 

Gender: MINUSTAH, in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, organized dialogue sessions between Haitian women leaders and the Mission’s leadership concerning priority women’s issues. The priorities identified related to women’s security, including preventing sexual and gender-based violence, economic empowerment and women’s participation in decision-making. The Mission continued to provide support to the Ministry for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights to render operational the special spaces for the reception of victims of sexual and gender-based violence established in three camps for internally displaced persons. The spaces are designed to promote the reporting of sexual violence cases and facilitate medical, psychological and legal assistance for survivors. Similar spaces were set up in five national police stations. MINUSTAH also contributed to the continuing development and finalization of the national gender policy by the Ministry.   

 

Child protection: During the reporting period, MINUSTAH received reports of 162 incidents against minors, including 108 cases relating to sexual violence (83 cases of rape, 8 cases of gang rape, 10 cases of attempted rape and 7 cases of sexual assault); 11 cases of homicide; 28 cases of kidnapping; 2 cases of physical assault; and 13 cases in which children were shot and injured, frequently during shoot-outs between rival gangs or between the national police and armed gangs. From October to December, MINUSTAH also received reports about the recruitment by gangs of 35 children in Cité Soleil (West Department), to carry guns, serve as lookouts or deliver drugs. The reports were shared  weekly with the national police and the Brigade for the Protection of Minors for follow-up. In addition, the Child Protection Unit of the MINUSTAH police component continued to provide mentoring to its counterpart in the national police to prevent the kidnapping of children and their trafficking at the country’s land border points. 

 

HIV/AIDS:  During the reporting period, 11 United Nations agencies, through a joint United Nations team on AIDS, developed a joint programme to support the national AIDS programme. It comprises four strategic areas: reducing sexual transmission among key populations; preventing new infections among children; eliminating the stigma and discrimination suffered by people living with HIV; and eliminating gender inequalities and gender-based violence. The national programme, with United Nations support, has taken proactive steps to ensure improved access to treatment without loss in quality of care. In the area of governance, the Haiti Country Coordinating Mechanism for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, under national leadership and with United Nations support, was successfully reorganized to improve the management of Global Fund assistance. 

 

Conduct and discipline: The Conduct and Discipline Unit continued to implement the integrated strategy to prevent misconduct through training sessions for 1,965 MINUSTAH personnel. A senior delegation comprising representatives of my Special Representative, the Force Commander, the Police Commissioner, the Director of Mission Support and the Office of Public Information and Communications visited regional offices in Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Port-de-Paix, Gonaïves, Miragoâne, Hinche and Jacmel to send a strong message to all MINUSTAH members to maintain the highest standards of conduct at all times, both inside and outside the Mission area and on-duty and off-duty.

 

Public information and outreach: During the reporting period, MINUSTAH used public information as a strategic tool to support the implementation of its mandate. Public information efforts continued through international and national media relations and regular press conferences, in addition to timely issuance of press releases and other products, including the Mission’s radio, website, live streaming, social media and television productions. The Mission also used its media products for outreach on cholera prevention, disaster and hurricane season preparedness and its work to strengthen the national police and rule of law institutions. In parallel with those outreach  activities, MINUSTAH organized regional workshops for women’s associations and  for journalists on video reporting and media ethics.

 

Mission support: MINUSTAH extended its support to the Government and the local community, in particular during and after Hurricane Sandy. It engaged in the construction or rehabilitation of several public facilities.   

 

Coordination: During the reporting period, the finalized integrated strategic framework for 2013-2016 was signed by my Special Representative and the Minister of Planning and External Cooperation. It replaces the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and constitutes the strategic umbrella under which MINUSTAH undertakes its consolidation plan and United Nations agencies, funds and programmes elaborate their respective country programmes. The framework is fully aligned with the Haitian strategic development plan. In a similar effort to ensure coherence and maximize effectiveness, 10 joint programmes managed by the United Nations country team continued to be implemented, several of which came to an end in December 2012 and 7 of which are continuing in 2013. My Deputy Special Representative and United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, in collaboration with UNDP and other agencies, supported the Government to develop a new aid coordination framework, which was launched on 26 November 2012 by the Prime Minister. The Group of Twelve (the group of main donors in Haiti) also contributed to the elaboration of the framework. The mechanism succeeds the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. Its creation marks the beginning of the transfer of development and humanitarian coordination structures to national authorities, with clusters gradually being phased out and the international community scaling down its presence.

 

United Nations efforts to eliminate the cholera epidemic: According to the Ministry of Public Health and Population, the cholera epidemic has caused the deaths of 7,964 persons. A total of 639,144 people were infected from October 2010 to 10 January 2013. Case infection rates have fallen from 25,000 per week at the height of the epidemic to a weekly average of about 2,000 cases reported until the end of 2012. The nationwide case fatality rate stands at 1.2 per cent, down from a high of 2.4 per cent in November 2010. Since mid-November 2012, however, more cases and fatalities are being reported than during the same period in 2011. The deterioration of cholera facilities and funding shortfalls to secure the payment of medical and sanitary staff ensuring hygiene in health facilities, compounded by the closure of humanitarian projects, explain this increase in the incidence of the disease. Owing to funding shortfalls, the number of cholera treatment facilities fell to 159 in November 2012 from 248 in June 2011. Since the outbreak of the epidemic in October 2010, the United Nations has spent some $118 million on prevention and treatment activities in support of the Government. The United Nations system has worked to support cholera case management by establishing, upgrading and maintaining oral rehydration points and cholera treatment units and centres. On 11 December 2012, I launched an initiative for the elimination of cholera in Haiti, which aims to support a 10-year cholera elimination plan developed by the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the  public water utility, with the support of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. I also appointed Paul Farmer as my Special Adviser for Community-based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.

 

Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti: The mandate of my Special Envoy, the former President of the United States of America, William J. Clinton, and his deputy, Paul Farmer, ended on 31 January 2013. In November 2012, the Office of the Special Envoy issued an in-depth report to document the lessons learned in the delivery of aid to Haiti since the earthquake entitled “Can more aid stay in Haiti and other fragile settings?”. It details how aid was invested in Haitian public, private and non-profit institutions and also compares trends in the delivery of aid in Haiti to other fragile settings. The most recent update, issued in January 2013, showed that national Governments and multilateral institutions had disbursed 56 per cent ($3.01 billion) of the $5.37 billion in recovery programme funds that they had pledged for the 2010-2012 period. 

 

Update on drawdown of military, police and civilian capabilities: In accordance with Security Council resolution 2070 (2012), the military and police components reduced their personnel during the reporting period. A total of 1,070 military personnel will have withdrawn by June 2013. Two engineering companies (one from Japan and one from the Republic of Korea) and an infantry company (from Argentina) withdrew during the reporting period. Two infantry companies from Brazilian Battalion II are scheduled for repatriation by June 2013. The number of MINUSTAH police officers is already below the 2013/14 authorized strength of 2,601. This includes 919 individual police officers, including 129 women, and 1,677 formed police unit personnel in 11 units, including 130 women. In my previous report to the Security Council, I introduced the Mission’s plan for its reconfiguration and conditions-based consolidation. I noted that the plan, which was being developed in collaboration with the United Nations country team and in consultation with the Government  and international partners, entailed a narrowing of MINUSTAH activities to a core set of mandated tasks in the areas of security and stability, democratic governance and State legitimacy, and rule of law with respect for human rights. The tasks selected were those considered realistically achievable within a time frame of four to five years and deemed to be key to the consolidation of security and stability in Haiti, at which point the presence of a large peacekeeping operation would no longer be required. The consolidation plan outlines a reduced number of stabilization benchmarks, largely drawn from this framework, to serve as key indicators of progress in the stabilization process. While the Mission will continue to assist the Government with the maintenance of security and political stability, the plan identifies four priority areas, for close scrutiny, which correspond to stabilization benchmarks. These benchmarks are: development of Haitian police capacity; rule of law and human rights; building of Haitian electoral capacity; and progress on key governance issues. This plan will enable MINUSTAH to operate more efficiently and guide the Mission in allocating its resources.  In response to the request of the Security Council in its resolution 2070 (2012), a concise, strategic version of the MINUSTAH consolidation plan is submitted in the annex to the present report.

 

Financial aspects: By its resolution 66/273, the General Assembly appropriated the amount of $648,394,000 for the maintenance of MINUSTAH for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013. As at 15 February 2013, unpaid assessed contributions to the Special Account for MINUSTAH amounted to $352 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping  operations as at that date amounted to $3,417.4 million. As at February 2013, amounts owed to troop and formed police contributors to MINUSTAH totalled $29.5 million. Reimbursements of troop and contingent-owned equipment costs have been made for the period up to 31 October 2012 and 30 September 2012, respectively, in accordance with the quarterly payment schedule.

 

Observations: Since my previous report, a stand-off among Haitian political leaders, in all branches of the Government, has led to disruptive delays in its basic functioning. Consequently, the opportunity has been missed to achieve meaningful progress in leading the country towards greater stability and prosperity. Rather than building on the important gains made during the previous reporting period, such as the publication of the constitutional amendments and the establishment of the Superior Council of the Judiciary, the country’s leaders continued a highly detrimental political stalemate. Insufficient progress was made towards the holding of long overdue elections, while important measures to strengthen key rule of law institutions, adopt critical legislation and improve socioeconomic conditions were not taken. Increased instances of civil unrest during the reporting period reflect, at least in part, a loss of patience by the Haitian electorate with the status quo, in addition to the mobilization by some political actors of gangs and, at times, the general population to commit acts of violence. The Government’s commitment to holding elections in 2012 was not upheld. The President has now pledged to organize elections in 2013. The holding of free and fair elections before the end of 2013 will constitute a critical opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its intent to revitalize the country’s democratic institutions. I therefore urge the authorities to spare no effort in ensuring a free and fair environment for the holding of credible and inclusive elections as soon as possible. As a very first step, it is of paramount importance that all branches of government finalize the appointment of their members to the temporary Electoral Council. This will enable the launch of the long-overdue electoral process. The Government’s pledge to contribute nearly half of the electoral budget is welcome. It is vital that these resources be used appropriately to build the management and administrative capabilities of the electoral body. There is also a need for a consensual decision between the executive branch and Parliament on the review of the draft electoral law. At the technical level, all steps should be taken to allow the National Identification Office to develop the full operational capacity to register voters on time and provide the electoral authorities with the registration data required to establish an electoral list. The United Nations stands ready to support the upcoming elections and to work with the Haitian authorities over the coming three years to enable them progressively to assume full responsibility for the management of the electoral process by 2016. To reverse the rising trend of major crime in Haiti, I urge the Government to continue to strengthen the country’s rule of law institutions and to deter and prosecute those responsible for violence. Although the oversight and accountability mechanisms provided for in the Constitution have been established, implementation of their mandate has been impaired in a number of instances by contested appointments and procedural irregularities. Building strong rule of law institutions, including the police and the judiciary, requires that they be allowed to operate independently. It is critical that the Government and its international partners continue to build the capacity of those  institutions and put an end to a pervasive culture of impunity that continues to hinder progress in Haiti. I also encourage the country’s political actors to adopt a consensual legislative agenda that includes priority legislation and the revision of key codes to promote the rule of law and socioeconomic development.

 

I am concerned by the significant number of cases in which officials in key positions have been replaced or have seen their tenure cut short. Among other things, this has been the case in the administration of the Electoral Council, municipal councils, the judiciary and the national police, raising questions about the politicization of these institutions. Together with the frequent changes made over the past year to the Cabinet, such cases hinder the capacity-building efforts of MINUSTAH and international donors. It is also vital that the Government deliver on its commitment to transparency and accountability by improving its reporting on the use of public funds, including during the recent state of emergency.  Regarding the human rights situation, I remain concerned by forced evictions from camps for internally displaced persons and by the excessive use of force by the national police, not only during such evictions but also during demonstrations and anti-crime operations. Unfortunately, the follow-up by the Inspectorate General with regard to such cases has achieved only limited results. I have also noted the  weakness of the overall police and judicial response to sexual and gender-based violence, which has been characterized by inadequate investigations, out-of-court settlements and various impediments to the  victims’ ability to appear before an investigating magistrate.  The strengthening of the national police remains a key prerequisite for the Mission’s eventual withdrawal from Haiti. Recent steps taken by the Government to incorporate at least 1,000 cadets per promotion are encouraging and should be sustained to meet the targets of the 2012-2016 development plan. I invite the Government to tackle other key priorities, such as increasing the recruitment and deployment of women, strengthening the administrative capability and specialized capacity of the police, increasing the professionalism of the middle and senior ranks of the police and deploying police officers in the regions. In this context, I urge the Government and Member States to commit themselves to ensuring that the needed funding is made available to support a professional, reliable and accountable police force.  I am particularly concerned by the lack of progress in building the capacity of the judiciary in Haiti, which negatively affects the criminal justice system as a whole. I encourage the relevant national and international stakeholders to engage in a strategic dialogue towards the development of a national justice development plan, in a manner similar to that of the national police.

 

In conclusion, I should like to thank my outgoing Special Representative, Mariano Fernández, for his service in support of stabilization in Haiti. I also wish to welcome my new Special Representative ad interim, Nigel Fisher, who has assumed responsibility for the Mission during this crucial transition period. In addition, I should like to express my sincere gratitude for the work of my Special Envoy, William J. Clinton, whose term ended on 31 January 2013, and who provided unique leadership in mobilizing support and resources for the country’s post-earthquake recovery. I am grateful to his deputy, Paul Farmer, who is continuing to advise me in his new capacity of Special Adviser for Community-based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. Lastly, I should also like to thank the men and women of MINUSTAH, troop-contributing countries, police-contributing countries and the United Nations country team and their partners for their continued dedication and commitment in support of stability and development in Haiti.

Comments

Miami Herald
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
JCHARLES@MIAMIHERALD.COM
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Haiti and U.N. authorities said Wednesday they plan to keep the pressure on well armed gangs that have been terrorizing motorists and residents along a key road linking Port-au-Prince with several cities on the south. The announcement comes as Haiti police inspector Charles Francois, in charge of the tiny police force in Petit-Goave, announced the arrest of Winnie Wilson, aka “Sonson.” Wilson is accused of holding up the director of the hospital for state employees. Armed bandits disarmed the director’s security guards and stole cash. For weeks, Haiti police, with backup from United Nations security forces, have cracked down on criminal activity along National Road 2, which runs through Petit-Goave, a normally quiet coastal city. They have set up checkpoints along the highway, and have also been conducting 24-hour patrols in Petit-Goave, 40 miles west of the capital, searching for armed bandits.
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On Saturday, upset that police had thwarted efforts to set up a roadblock, one of the gang leaders took to the radio airwaves and threatened “to kill police.” More than 100 specially trained, heavily armed Haiti police officers have been deployed from the capital by authorities to shore up the city’s 38-person police force and restore calm to Petit-Goave. Police and U.N. authorities say they will remain in the area until all of the bandits are captured or decide to put down their weapons and leave.

Miami Herald
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
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The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti for another year, and cut the number of military personnel by half while maintaining the same 2,601 U.N. police officers.
But don’t expect the reduction— from 5,021 to 2,270 — to take place right away. Divided about what the mission should look like because of Haiti’s long-overdue and unscheduled elections, members agreed to hold off on the reduction. Their decision came on the same day that a lawsuit accusing the global body of introducing a deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti was amended in a New York court to include another 1,000 plaintiffs. Cholera was introduced in Haiti four years ago this month and has killed more than 8,000 and infected more than 700,000 Haitians. Despite several lawsuits and scientific studies linking it to Nepalese peacekeepers deployed after the country’s devastating January 2010 earthquake, the U.N. has refused to take responsibility for the epidemic. It has, however, launched a $2 billion, 10-year clean water and sanitation campaign in Haiti. “We hope that the increase in the number of plaintiffs will strengthen our case and bring about more awareness to the plight of hundreds of thousands who have been impacted due to the negligence of the United Nations,” said Stanley Alpert, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs now numbering more than 2,600.
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Oral arguments in a separate but related cholera lawsuit against the U.N. is scheduled to take place Oct 23 in Manhattan. This summer, the peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, marked 10 years in Haiti. That tenure and the cholera epidemic have not helped the body’s image in Haiti, where some continue to call for its departure. During Tuesday’s council debate, Latin American nations, which contribute the most personnel to the mission, said despite improvement in Haiti’s security, the country remained fragile and the delayed elections could plunge it deeper into chaos. “A drastic reduction in the number of the military contingent of MINUSTAH could hinder its ability,” to prevent a crisis, said Chilean Ambassador Cristián Barros.
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Still, the United States and others argued that demand for peacekeeping missions and peacekeepers elsewhere was increasing and Haiti’s mission needed to be reduced. As a compromise, members agreed to keep the force level close to the current level until U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon submits his next report. That report isn’t due to the Security Council until March, which means that the troop level is likely to stay the same for the next six months. Members also agreed that the Security Council could at any time make changes to the force levels if conditions in Haiti require it. In Haiti, concerns over the elections continue even as President Michel Martelly resumes talks with the opposition. There is still no date for the ballot, or whether Haiti will have one or two elections next year when presidential elections are also due. Some observers say if the U.S. and others want to prevent a deeper crisis then there should be two elections, with the first taking place in early 2015.
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Last week, before meeting with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated calls for Haitians to put aside their differences and reach a political compromise to hold elections. “This resistance — the unwillingness to allow the people to be able to have this vote — really challenges the overall growth and development progress of the country,” Kerry said. “You need to have a fully functioning government.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of Mourad Wahba of Egypt as his Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), where he will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Mr. Wahba will succeed Peter de Clercq of the Netherlands. The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. de Clercq’s dedicated service and contribution to the work of the United Nations in Haiti. Mr. Wahba brings to the position extensive experience in development, policymaking, and programme and operations management. He currently serves as Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for the Regional Bureau for Arab States of UNDP in New York, positions he has held since 2013.
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Prior to this role, Mr. Wahba was the Director of the Security Office in the Bureau of Management of UNDP in New York from 2009 to 2013, and United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Morocco from 2006 to 2009. He served as Director of United Nations Affairs in UNDP in New York and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Guyana and held several senior officer and adviser positions in UNDP and the United Nations Secretariat in New York from 1993 to 2001. Before joining the United Nations, he worked in media and academia.
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Mr. Wahba holds a doctorate degree in oriental studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Born in 1959, he is married and has two children.

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