Study: Haiti Should Not Rush Departure of MINUSTAH Peacekeepers

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 3, 2012

Above: the UN clears debris in Haiti earlier this year (UN Photo/Logan Abassi)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The eventual departure of the United Nations’ MINUSTAH peacekeeping force from Haiti “should not be rushed,” according to a study by the International Crisis Group.

As a movement calling for the force’s withdrawal continues to grow, the real debate is “not whether MINUSTAH should leave, but when,” according to the study.

“Even its critics admit the country’s still-limited police force cannot guarantee the security needed to protect citizens, enforce the law and underpin political stability,” the group said in a release. “It is neither in Haiti’s nor in the donor’s interest to see a hasty withdrawal of the mission, but MINUSTAH needs rethinking and revamping.”

The UN should model a newly-configured MINUSTAH on UN similar forces which faced or face comparable challenges, the group said.

“The UN presence in Haiti should see a reconfigured MINUSTAH, with reduced but still-capable troop strength and a robust police presence,” it said.

Haiti President Michel Martelly has been calling for the eventual creation of a new Haitian army upon the departure of MINUSTAH.

Haiti’s international partners have instead called for a strengthened national police force. Martelly has argued that both would be needed to fill the security vacuum that would be left by MINUSTAH’s departure.

“Haiti needs at least double its current numbers of police, with adequate training and vetting, deployed and capable of protecting its citizens and borders from home-grown and transnational criminal threats,” the group said. “A second five-year national police development plan needs to be adopted and implemented to chart that growth and the police need to be part of a comprehensive and professional justice system securely founded on the rule of law.”

The UN Security Council has been working with Haiti on strengthening of the Rule of Law in the country. Most recently, Haiti announced the creation of a Supreme Council of Judicial Power aimed at managing the country’s judiciary.

But the report cautioned that Martelly “should put on hold the reconstitution of the army until these goals are met.”

The group also recommended that the Haitian government increase the police forces to around 20,000.

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