The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
The Government of Haiti continues to improve the capacity of its law enforcement, corrections, and justice sector. For more than twenty-five years, Haiti has relied on UN security forces to augment the Haitian National Police (HNP)’s efforts to ensure peace and stability. In 2017, the United Nations ended its peacekeeping stabilization mission (MINUSTAH), and replaced it with a smaller, capacity building-focused successor, the Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). MINUJUSTH is scheduled to withdraw in 2019. The HNP, Haiti’s sole law enforcement institution, is increasingly taking on the responsibility for security in the country with limited assistance from the United Nations, but significant challenges remain. Haiti’s infrastructure is poor, and the government faces chronic budget shortages. The corrections and justice sectors are weak, and overcrowding and high rates of pre-trial detention in Haiti’s prisons continue to pose human rights, humanitarian, and rule of law challenges. Haiti’s judiciary remains the poorest functioning institution in the Haitian public sector. Haiti’s porous borders also enable cocaine and marijuana from South America and Jamaica to transit on its way to U.S. markets which, in addition to posing problems for the United States, undermines the rule of law in this fragile country by fostering corruption.
Strengthening Haiti’s law enforcement capacity is a key U.S. Government priority. Augmenting the HNP’s ability to protect and maintain civilian security and stability will allow for the successful planned withdrawal of MINUJUSTH in 2019. This includes improving the law enforcement capabilities of the Government of Haiti to maintain public order and reduce the attractiveness of illegal migration and the ability of criminals to use Haiti as a transit point for drugs being trafficked into the United States. INL aims to help the Haitians strengthen the HNP’s size, reach, and capabilities. Assistance focuses on helping the HNP develop essential budgeting, strategic planning, and administrative capabilities needed to sustain a force, recruiting and training new police cadets to form the core of a credible, competent police force, mentoring key offices to improve internal oversight, and refurbishing police infrastructure. INL contributes police and corrections advisors to MINUJUSTH to mentor HNP units directly, enhancing Haitian police skills in investigations, patrols, crime response, curriculum development, cadet training, prison management, and police operations. INL is also working to expand Haiti’s counternarcotics police coverage and capabilities, and help the Government of Haiti develop a modern, secure, and humane prison system that protects the rights of both prisoners and the public.
As a direct result of INL support to the HNP School, trained HNP officers grew from just over six thousand in 2010 to approximately 15,000 in 2017, meeting the Government of Haiti’s five-year goal set in 2013. The HNP is among the most trusted and effective institutions in Haiti. Additionally, INL constructed six new police stations and rehabilitated many others to allow the HNP to expand its presence, including in Martissant and LeClerc- two communities greatly affected by gang violence in Port-au-Prince.
INL has provided equipment, vehicles, and training for corrections personnel to more effectively manage prisons, as well as supported a pilot vocational training program and the expansion of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. INL constructed two new prisons in Haiti and is in the process of finalizing a third prison, adding almost 1,200 new beds to address severe overcrowding and creating more secure and humane conditions for the prison population.
INL’s assistance also helped build the capacity of the HNP counternarcotics unit (BLTS) and establish a new border security unit (POLIFRONT) in order to expand law enforcement presence in key maritime, airport, and land borders. BLTS grew from 145 officers in 2011 to just under 240 officers on active duty in 2018. INL provided training in partnership with the Miami-Dade Police Department and equipment to help the BLTS improve operations. INL renovated a seized property in Port-au-Prince to house canines and their trainers, and constructed several smaller facilities, including airport canine compounds, key border check points, and maritime facilities (in cooperation with the Haitian Coast Guard) to support BLTS’ deployment throughout the country. INL-supported K9 units grew from just two dogs in 2010 to nineteen dogs in 2018.