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Haiti Needs Tougher Laws to Control Growth of Private Security Forces: Report

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - July 9, 2012

Above: a Brazilian peacekeeper distributes water in Haiti (UN Photo/Marco Dormino)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The rapid growth of private security forces in Haiti means the country must enact tougher laws to control their growth, according to a new paper from the Canada-based Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Haiti has seen an increasing demand for private security since the 2010 earthquake, with an anticipated growth of 7 to 8 percent. That demand has grown in large part due to a “critical lack of public police personnel.”

But Haiti must maintain a “reasonable degree of control over the industry,” according to the paper, “From Private Security to Public Good: Regulating the Private Security Industry in Haiti.”

“In societies undergoing [security sector reform], private security can buttress weak or ineffective public security institutions,” said author Geoff Burt, a former research officer at CIGI and current vice president at the Security Governance Group. ”

Current regulations in Haiti lack “specificity,” according to the paper, and have “divided” oversight responsibilities.

Further, the country’s 1988 and 1989 decrees on the subject “contain an insufficient level of detail to cover many likely eventualities,” such as confusion over the use of force in apprehending a suspect.

While Haiti’s government is reportedly working on several initiatives to reform its security sector, the paper recommends several “minimum requirements” to deal with the issue: laws stipulating the roles such firms can assume, clear procedures for obtaining and revoking licences, and oversight mechanisms.

Improving Haiti’s security situation, which is currently led in large part by the UN’s MINUSTAH peacekeeping force, has been a major stated priority for Haiti President Michel Martelly and the United Nations Security Council.

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