Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of Parliament, people in the audience.
First, I'd like to thank you for inviting me. I look forward to hearing your questions.
If there are questions in French, I will also answer them.
My presentation today is going to focus on the economic development strategy that Canada and other donors are advancing in Haiti. I plan to outline our approach and make some suggestions on how, in my view, it might be improved.
Just to be clear from the outset, I'm using today a poverty reduction lens to judge our economic development plan in Haiti. In other words, I'm interested in exploring how the economic development approach we are using will affect the country's poorest citizens. The emphasis on poverty reduction is in part normative, but it is also due to the importance that both peace-building experts and development experts have assigned to this goal.
For example, the International Crisis Group notes that much of the violence that plagues Haiti is due to the “chronic failure to tackle the poverty, social deprivation, and exclusion that endanger most of the population”. Basically, donors have accepted that poverty and inequality are among those factors leading to violence, insecurity, and political instability in Haiti. In fact, in a recent strategy paper on Haiti, CIDA argues that Canada's primary challenge is to find and implement strategies that will foster poverty reduction.
Over half of all Haitians, about 56%, live on less than one dollar U.S. per day, making the country's poverty deeper and more pervasive than in the rest of Latin America. Haiti's peasant farmers make up the most destitute segment of the population, with rural residents accounting for 75% of the country's poor. Haiti also suffers the starkest division between rich and poor of any Caribbean country.
Canada and the international community have a threefold strategy for economic renewal in Haiti. The first goal is to build stronger links with members of the Haitian diaspora. The second is to strengthen the private sector, which is viewed as the primary engine of economic growth. The third is to re-establish Haiti's assembly manufacturing export sector.
Today I will argue that while these focuses may help to reactivate the economy, they are unlikely to significantly improve the lot of Haiti's poor. This is because there is very little in this plan for the country's rural majority. But I will expand on that later. Due to time constraints today, I will say only a few words about two of these strategies--boosting the private sector and re-establishing the export assembly sector.
With regard to the first strategy, although the country's private sector is fragile and weak, it is a major development objective of the Canadian government. For instance, Ottawa is supporting an initiative designed to train Haitian business leaders inside Haiti. Canada also recently acted as host for the first ever meeting between the Inter-American Development Bank, President Enrique Iglesias, and members of the Haitian private sector. This was to discuss the private sector's role in rebuilding Haiti.
While the private sector can contribute to economic renewal, this focus is not without challenges. For instance, international development agencies have tended to view the Haitian private sector with suspicion. Haitian business elites have long been suspected of being more interested in turning a quick profit than in long-term economic development. Moreover, past links between private sector players in Haiti, former Haitian dictators, the army, and paramilitary groups are a continued source of concern for many development agencies, and rightly so.
Progressive elements in the private sector are beginning to alter this perception, but this is a very slow process. The fact that Canada hosted this IDB-private sector meeting will undoubtedly help create the kind of valuable links between these two partners, but again, the democratic and development credentials of this sector remain tainted.
More importantly, though, if we turn back to the objective of poverty reduction, it's important to note that there is little data to support the assumption that the poorest Haitians, most of whom make their living from the rural areas and the informal sector, will automatically benefit from a more robust private sector.
Even the World Bank, a staunch supporter of private sector development, notes that the evidence on small and medium-sized businesses, growth and poverty, does not support the contention that small and medium-sized businesses are particularly effective job creators. The bank's analysis also reveals that the size of the small and medium-sized business sector is not significantly associated with the income of the poorest quintile of society, or the percentage of the population living below the poverty line, or the poverty gap.
So while prosperous and thriving economies usually have a strong small and medium-sized business sector, cross-country comparisons do not indicate that the small and medium-sized business sector exerts a particularly beneficial impact on the incomes of the poor.
Regarding export assembly operations, this part of the economic development plan is very much in line with conventional economic thinking. A country like Haiti's comparative advantage lies in its cheap labour and proximity to U.S. shores. Hence, encouraging export assembly operations seems reasonable. Interestingly, though, this was actually tried in Haiti during the 1970s and 1980s. What I want to point out today is that this earlier attempt to promote light industry through assembly production failed to spark development. In fact, it actually increased inequality and poverty levels.
Jean-Claude Duvalier championed export development manufacturing between 1971 and 1986, offering various incentives: a tax holiday of 10 years, complete profit repatriation, and a guaranteed non-unionized workforce. This did lead to a massive expansion of assembly operations. Exports from light industry grew at an average annual rate of 40% during the 1970s.
By the early 1980s Haiti was second only to Mexico among US-centred subcontracting territories in the western hemisphere. It had about 240 multinational corporations, employing between 40,000 and 60,000 workers, depending on whose numbers you're going to choose.
In 1985, one year before Duvalier was forced into exile, Haiti was ranked ninth in the world in the assembly of goods for U.S. consumption. In fact, it's often said that every baseball in the United States at that time was made in Haiti. The sector generated more than a half of the country's industrial exports and earned one-quarter of its foreign exchange.
Despite this tremendous expansion, the effects on Haiti's overall economy were disappointing, especially in terms of the number of Haitians living at or below the poverty line. The country's debt increased; foreign exchange reserves were exhausted by 1981. Commenting on Haiti's balance of payments, World Bank officials conceded that the assembly industry had, in the long term, made “almost no fiscal contribution” to the economy. Repercussions for Haiti's poorest citizens were significant as well.
First, faced with a shortfall in revenues from imports, because all manner of imports, goods, luxury goods were now entering the country free of taxes on the pretext that they were essential to assembly firms, the Haitian government turned to consumption taxes, which studies have shown adversely affected rural peasants and members of the urban lower classes, in particular.
Another effect of this plan was that food costs increased as production diminished. The production diminished because of the mass exodus from rural areas to Port-au-Prince, which was the primary site of the manufacturing sector. Between 1975 and 1985 the average price of all foodstuffs more than doubled, again hurting the poorest households the most.
Although the model provided some economic growth, it also increased poverty and economic polarization by favouring the economic development of Port-au- Prince, the urban sector, over the rest of the country, the rural sector. In short, poverty was not reduced, mostly because the slight industry strategy explicitly averted the rural world, although I have to admit that appalling levels of corruption under Duvalierism were also an important contributing factor here.
Ignoring the needs of the agrarian sector has been customary in Haiti, and it also reflects a long-term pattern among donors. The economic development plans of the 1990s allocated only 7% of assistance to agriculture, the source of income for 80% of all Haitians living below the poverty line. Current donors, including Canada, argue that agriculture in Haiti is neither sustainable nor ecologically sound. To be sure, rural development is a daunting challenge.
Haiti's landholdings are small, mainly on steep slopes, making mechanical farming virtually impossible, and close to one-third of all plots are in agriculturally marginal areas. Still, Haiti experts argue that it is these abysmal conditions that make rural development absolutely essential, if for no other reason than to prevent the rural poor from slipping further into poverty. Restoring agricultural production and improving food security for rural households must be established as a strategic priority for international donors who make poverty reduction their primary objective.
Canada showed real leadership when it released its 2003 policy paper entitled Promoting Sustainable Rural Development Through Agriculture, especially since it did so on the heels of substantial cuts to aid to agriculture and rural development by bilateral and multilateral agencies throughout the 1990s. Regrettably, though, Ottawa decided in 2005 to drop agriculture as a focus of its foreign aid program. This has enormous repercussions for countries like Haiti, where promoting sustainable rural development through agriculture is crucial to poverty alleviation. Aid to peasant agriculture would encourage small-scale producers to remain on the land and improve their livelihoods through production of food for consumption and for sale to local markets.
To be sure, Canada's priorities, its new priorities--health, education, good governance, environment, and the private sector--are important; however, it is difficult to imagine putting an end to extreme poverty in Haiti without a strong and sustained plan that targets the rural world.
In conclusion, when it comes to addressing economic development, that is, reducing poverty and inequality, and building a viable economy, Canada has decided to follow the lead of other major donors in applying a predominantly urban-based development strategy. This approach proved unsuccessful in the 1970s and 1980s when the Haitian government chose to overlook its rural sector in favour of promoting export processing zones, and it also proved unsuccessful most recently in the mid-1990s when donors overlooked this sector as well.
The argument here today is not that Canada or foreign donors should orient the bulk of their aid and loans to the agricultural sector. Given the level of environmental degradation in Haiti, overpopulation, and increased division of land holdings, agriculture will never become Haiti's primary engine of economic growth. However, if poverty reduction is indeed a primary objective for Canada, restoring agricultural production and improving food security for rural households must be a strategic priority.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and honourable members of the committee.
My involvement with Haiti dates back to 1998, when I spent the summer in Limbe at a non-profit hospital. Limbe is in the northern part of the country. Since then, I have written on the human rights situation in Haiti and have worked, and continue to work, with Amnesty International's Canadian section and its international secretariat on Haiti.
What I thought I would do today is give a brief overview of the human rights situation in Haiti and then make a case for why Canada's engagement in Haiti and with Haiti should centre on human rights.
Very briefly, since the insurgency of February 5, 2004, the human rights situation in Haiti has been in a state of crisis. Despite the presence of the UN stabilization mission in Haiti, the human rights situation in Haiti has remained perilous and in desperate need of strengthening. Even with the successful election last February the country remains politically polarized, while lawlessness and violence are common. A deeply ingrained culture of impunity, widespread police abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, ill treatment, prolonged detentions, and extrajudicial executions, along with a judiciary that appears to lack independence, high levels of criminal activity, deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians, rape, death threats, and intimidation, and an overall climate of insecurity are some of the major problems that currently plague Haiti and are in need of remedy.
Those responsible for the abuses include a wide range of actors. These include armed gangs, with or without political ties to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, rogue police officers, former rebels, demobilized members of the former Haitian armed forces, and members of organized criminal gangs.
Haiti is in desperate need of a police force that is able to police the tiny island nation in a fair, equitable, and just manner that is consistent with international norms. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem for Haiti. The country has a long history of corrupt and abusive police forces, despite considerable international aid in this area. Indeed, the international community's attempts at police reform in the 1990s produced disappointing results. By the end of the decade, slightly less than one in five of all police officers had been dismissed because of charges of corruption, drug offences, and human rights abuses. Moreover, elements of the force are highly politicized, and some of its members are responsible for some very terrible human rights abuses, often involving lethal force. As I mentioned before, arbitrary arrests are frequent, while extrajudicial executions remain common and are rarely investigated.
Part of the problem involves human resources. Currently there are several thousand officers who are responsible for policing a population of about eight million, which simply is not sufficient. Often, they are required to handle situations involving political violence and heavily armed criminal gangs.
Haiti's justice system is also badly in need of reform. Described by many as being highly dysfunctional, the country has been plagued by a culture of impunity. Furthermore, the independence of the judiciary remains very much in doubt. Prison conditions are deplorable; they are overcrowded and incredibly unsanitary. Freedom of expression continues to be under constant threat, and in this climate the rule of law has been largely absent in much of the country. Women and street children are particularly vulnerable. The former are often targets of terror campaigns that involve rape, while the latter are susceptible to attacks by the police.
MINUSTAH, the UN force, has been operating in Haiti since June 2004. Its presence in Haiti has been a source of controversy, particularly while the transitional government was in power. Part of the problem with MINUSTAH is that it has a relatively weak mandate. Security Council resolution 1542 requires that MINUSTAH work alongside the Haitian national police on all issues involving policing. As such, MINUSTAH does not have either the authority or the resources to engage in independent policing activities, although it does have power to vet and certify new and existing Haitian national police personnel for service.
Because of this a number of questions have been raised about its neutrality, as it is seen by some sectors of the Haitian population to be in league with the Haitian National Police. Compounding this legitimacy deficit is that UN forces have been unable to provide security for all sectors of society, even though the number of UN troops was recently increased to 8,000 soldiers.
The abuses taking place in Haiti have been exacerbated by the presence and accessibility of thousands of small arms in the country. Indeed, a number of non-governmental organizations have argued that the most pressing issue facing Haiti at the moment is the proliferation of approximately 170,000 small arms--and this is a very conservative estimate of the number of guns that are in the country. These weapons have helped fuel violence between insurgents, criminal gangs, and pro-Aristide supporters.
Efforts have been taken to demobilize members of the former military through the National Commission on Disarmament that was established in February 2005. However, results to date have not been terribly encouraging. At present, few weapons have been collected. More definitely needs to be done in this area.
To conclude, I have five recommendations for the Government of Canada, all of which are intended to better the human rights situation in Haiti.
The first is to promote international human rights standards within Haiti. Two weeks ago, I saw the announcement in which the Government of Canada pledged $48 million to promote good governance and democracy in Haiti. While I'm not familiar with the specific details of the program, I wish to commend the government for making that commitment to human rights and to peace. I urge the government to continue with these priorities and to publicly condemn human rights violations when they do occur.
The second recommendation is to continue to invest in police, judicial, and penal reform. If Haiti's police are to become a functional, depoliticized institution, then all members need to be trained according to international standards. The benchmarks for success should be standards found in key international human rights documents. The same holds true for the judicial and penal systems, both of which need to be brought up to international standards of due process.
The third is to assist with a nationwide disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program. This means working towards disarming all non-state actors, but also insisting that the Haitian National Police use their weapons in a lawful and proportionate manner.
The fourth recommendation is to help ensure that Haiti does not fall off the international agenda.
The constant uncertainty and scaling back of resources that plagued numerous international missions has hurt the prospects of genuine reform. MINUSTAH's current mandate is set to expire in the middle of August. Canada can work at the UN to ensure that, come August, MINUSTAH's mandate is renewed, and insist that the human rights mechanisms within MINUSTAH have the necessary resources that they need in order to carry out their functions.
This also means insisting that MINUSTAH take into account the provisions of both the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and Security Council Resolution 1325, which lists steps that the international community must take in order to protect women and children caught in conflict environments and fragile and failing states, and they must make this a priority of the mission.
The fifth recommendation is to be patient. With Haiti, there can be no quick fixes. Those who have been given the task of assisting Haiti should be prepared for setbacks. The absence of short-term results may make it tempting to forgo a long-term commitment. I would argue that this would be a very short-sighted view of the situation.
Nothing I've said today should come as a surprise. In one form or another, these recommendations can be found in various UN Security Council resolutions. My point is that the solutions are there. It's now just a matter of acting on them and seeing them through. This is essential if Haiti is to one day become a functioning society.
Thank you very much.
The first issue relates, in a way, to how we would envision a development policy that's centred around rural areas in Haiti, in terms of the size of plots of land and so on.
Since I have a moment, I want to say that Canada and the IDB and other donors have been targeting the rural sector in a way that is supporting infrastructure, for example, working on environmental degradation and promoting export crops and aquaculture farms. These are all worthwhile goals.
What I'm trying to get at is more of a peasant path to development that would prioritize food security. Some policies in that direction would be aimed at reducing the gap, for example, between capitalist farmers and peasant farm sectors; adapting existing modern technologies to the needs of the peasant sector given the conditions there; creating more peasant-friendly, appropriate sustainable technologies; and also, as part of this, promoting broader social and political conditions to make rural peasant production sustainable and productive.
What I mean is that it was clear to donors in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that the liberalization of Haiti's markets and the lowering of protective tariffs on rice, for instance—the country's most basic staple—would devastate Haitian rice producers. This was well known. USAID came out with two reports, one in 1987 and another one in 1995, that said that if they lowered their tariffs, it would basically bring a loss of about $15 million a year to rice-growing peasants, further reducing their already poor standard of living. That was in a USAID report. In other words, we are advancing macro-economic policies that we know will impoverish these sectors. So maybe a “do no harm” policy would be a good way to start, regarding not decimating it further and pushing people out of rural areas into the slums of Port-au-Prince, where of course there is no employment.
The second point is around the regime of Duvalier. This was the failure of the export assembly, in part due to the fact that this was a dictatorship. That's why I mentioned corruption. I think one part of the problem was corruption. There is no question that the Duvaliers were experts at this. They managed to funnel unbelievable amounts of money out of the country and used the export promotion strategy to do this.
The other thing to remember is that social scientists who have looked at the export manufacturing sector say that it would only employ—even at its strongest, when it was doing the best, 60,000 workers, if you take that number—about 4% or 5% of the population. There are some political science and Haiti experts who have said that it would barely act as the kind of employment generator that people think it would.
So I think there are flaws in the strategy itself, which are aside from the actual political structure that would underpin it--whether it's the Duvalier dictatorship or something else.
Mr. Chairman, you have the text in both languages, so I will be addressing the committee in both languages. I would first like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to appear before your committee on a subject that is of such importance to us.
The timing could not be better, since today Haiti is at the crossroads. I believe that those are the very words that Minister MacKay used yesterday. Neither Haiti's leaders nor the international community can or should once again disappoint such a destitute people, so eager to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
The massive voter turnouts throughout the electoral process and President Préval's speech about national reconciliation paved the way for sustainable development. But history reminds us that there is no development without security or security without development. That is why CIDA is involved in this area with so much determination.
There are many ways to define what we mean by security. I would like to start by clarifying that for CIDA and the international community generally, security rests on three basic pillars: the police, justice, and prison administration. We must address all of these in order to achieve sustainable results, because they are essentially all of one piece. This is the framework in which CIDA conducts its activities in the security sector in Haiti.
The challenges to be met are substantial. The national police force does not have enough police officers. It is ill-equipped and not up to professional standards. The justice system has major deficiencies. Inadequate jails overflow with inmates, some of whom are guilty; about others, we don't know. Think of a security system that is based on a ratio of one police officer for 2,000 residents, while in Canada the proportion is 1:500; in Europe, 1:450; and in the rest of Latin America and the hemisphere, about 1:600.
Canada's commitment to Haiti's security sector is also based on a whole-of-government approach. We rely extensively on the expertise of our colleagues from the RCMP and Foreign Affairs and on our own in-house expertise.
My remarks today will focus on three main points: the issues, our activities and achievements, and future courses of action.
First, there are five major issues in Haiti's security sector.
The first issue is the timeline. The lessons of the past teach us that, in a fragile state such as Haiti, the presence of numerous outside forces has a stabilizing but limited effect. This effect is temporary and has no sustainable impact, since these forces are a substitute for local security forces. This presence must thus be coupled with institution building and ongoing long-term efforts to develop professionalism. The long term is at least 10 to 20 years.
The second issue is political will. Haitian authorities must show political will if reform of the security sector is to succeed, otherwise, it will be impossible to depoliticize the security sector, professionalize the police service, and combat corruption. This political will was weak from 1996 to 2004. CIDA thus suspended its program and shifted to a new approach, which we will discuss later.
The third issue is a common vision of the reform process. All stakeholders involved in reforming the security sector must agree to work from common reform plans for police and justice, led by Haitian authorities. These plans must be developed in consultation with civil society, and a system must be established to coordinate the various stakeholders. A single vision is crucial to generate synergy and rally all stakeholders in the security sector.
The fourth issue is complementary actions. Security cannot be approached solely as a matter of control and repression, but also as an issue of socio-economic development. Thus, at the same time, major activities must lead to poverty reduction.
Finally, we must not underestimate the role of Haiti's social and cultural environment, in which we carry out our work. The lessons of the past clearly show that understanding this can make the difference between success and failure.
Let me turn now to the activities that CIDA has financed over the years and some of the results we achieved in the reform of the security sector.
From 1994 to 2002, CIDA supported a number of bilateral initiatives. It had to gradually withdraw from these initiatives, essentially owing to the Haitian authorities' lack of political will to deal with the problem to any significance. There was increased politicization and increased corruption, which caused CIDA to terminate its bilateral program in the justice sector in 1999 and in the police sector in 2001.
However, we did maintain through the United Nations some assistance in justice, human rights, and prison administration. There were sustained efforts also to strengthen the Haitian civil society. All these activities resulted in, for example, building a networking system between the public prosecutor's office and the courts, in training clerks, in training correctional staff, in the creation of an inmate database--imagine, they didn't even know many prisoners were in the prisons--and increasing, also, public awareness of civil rights and civil obligations, and we are working through international human rights norms.
The advent of the transitional government in March 2004 has now created a new political will, somewhat hesitant but sufficient for us to maintain our multilateral commitment and resume our programming in the security sector. As I said before, we realize there can be no development without security. First and foremost, however, security does depend on its government and on its citizens.
What have we supported since the advent of the interim government in 2004?
With respect to justice, we are working with the United Nations, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as non-governmental organizations in Canada and Haiti to help strengthen the Ministry of Justice, improve present administration by training correctional officers, to establish a fair, accessible, and timely system of criminal justice. Finally, we are trying to improve present conditions and the respect for the rights of inmates.
To strengthen the police sector, CIDA funded the deployment of 100 Canadian police officers for two years under the leadership of MINUSTAH and administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the RCMP. We also sent 25 additional police officers to reinforce security during the elections. My colleague David Beer will provide more details on UNPOL.
Again with regard to the police sector, I consider this perhaps as one of the most important achievements of the past two years. We responded to the appeal by the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for the police, in developing a joint strategic plan. This reform plan was approved by the Supreme Council of the National Police which, to date, has provided a framework for the actions of the community as a whole. This plan also resulted in the creation of a new strategic development branch of the police, with technical support from Canadian experts and MINUSTAH.
Moreover, to offer tangible, visible proof of progress in the sector, CIDA funded a general survey and technical manuals for the repair of 20 police stations and 14 court houses that had been vandalized. Four of the stations are being repaired with CIDA funding, while information about the other 16 stations was shared with the other donors and MINUSTAH. CIDA has also funded the repair of four courts and the government of Haiti has repaired eight. We are currently re-establishing the legal infrastructure.
Finally, we are funding social appeasement projects in the hot spots of Port-au-Prince. I heard the Cité Soleil mentioned a number of times earlier. We have a presence there. These projects aim to support efforts to stabilize security by creating jobs and generally improving living conditions.
I would like to emphasize that all of these activities reflect the priorities that have been outlined in the Interim Cooperation Framework that was adopted by the international community and the Haitian government and that has been guiding all of the commitments from 2004 until now.
As far as the future is concerned, we are at a crossroads. We have a newly elected government in place, and so far this government has shown positive signals of political will to undertake genuine reform. The coming weeks will be decisive in defining the roles and the responsibilities of all our international stakeholders. It will underline that Canada does not act alone.
MINUSTAH's current mandate ends on August 15 and must be renegotiated. The Organization of American States is now redefining its mandate for its special mission. And we will know that there will be a pledging conference for the donors on July 25, most likely in Haiti, for the extension of the cooperation framework. All of these events will guide our future interventions.
Mr. Chairman, before closing, allow me to give you just a few insights of what we could do in the security sector in the future.
In Canada, the departments and agencies concerned are joining together to develop a new joint action strategy for the security sector. This strategy must reflect the priorities that the new government will outline in the near future and be consistent with the renewal of MINUSTAH's mandate.
Some avenues are already emerging. With regard to CIDA, there is a consensus among the Haitian authorities and members of MINUSTAH about its long-term role. We intend to focus on creating a new police academy to train officers, which will have a major impact on making this force more professional.
We will also continue our efforts to support NGOs that are active in the area of human rights.
Finally, we are working in very close coordination with the RCMP as it is deploying its police officers--and certainly my colleague David Beer will provide you with further details on this--and we are working in close cooperation with Foreign Affairs.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate that CIDA remains fully committed to the security sector, since the issues are critical to the development and recovery of Haiti's economy and stability, not only in that country, but also in the subregion.
I thank you, and I look forward to your questions and your comments.
First, on behalf of the Commissioner of the RCMP I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to appear today.
The RCMP is justly proud of a long-standing tradition of assistance in international police development and of the highly successful partnership of the Departments of Public Security and of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency in deploying police to international peace missions and as partners in the Canadian Police Arrangement. In many ways the tradition and the partnership have been tempered by missions in Haiti.
The current United Nations mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, is the seventh since 1993. The RCMP and its Canadian policing partners have been involved in all of them, in addition to years of bilateral development assistance financed by CIDA.
While there have been successes, the context of our meeting today speaks to the failure to sustain and build on the successes. While I haven't, Mr. Chairman, prepared a lot of information with respect to our current activities, I have provided to the committee an appendix to my introductory speech that gives, first of all, an outline of the current activities as well as basically a chronology of police deployments to Haiti since 1994.
The committee has no doubt heard or will hear of the crisis situation in Haiti from many perspectives: human rights abuse, violence, poverty unequalled in this hemisphere, environmental degradation, the ineffectiveness of government and its institutions, class struggle, racism, the need for protection of women and children, and more. While my appearance here today focuses on policing in particular, we must not lose sight of the fact that there may be no aspect of Haitian society that is not in crisis. Haiti may be the quintessential example of what we call the “fragile state”.
In the mid- and late 1990s, the security environment was nearly perfect for focused development. There was no open violence between competing interests, and organized criminal activity as we see it today did not yet have a firm hold. Governmental attention went to policing development, not policing operations. Over 5,000 police were identified, trained, and deployed. Advanced programs were under way. There was continuity in leadership. Standards of performance and internal discipline were being established. Though there was much to do, progress was being made.
Today, the situation has changed. Organized crime—including drugs, weapons, kidnapping, and smuggling, in particular—has taken hold and seems to have been woven into the political fabric of the country. Corruption in the police and at all levels of bureaucracy is debilitating. The necessary attention to operations is complicated where violence is perpetrated by criminal and insurgent gangs, sometimes acting with political motivations and with tactics, weapons, and commitment that represent low-intensity guerilla warfare. Where there is no functioning justice system, this problem can be overwhelming.
Further, over 50% of the UN's 1,800 police resources on the ground are focused on security operations. Of the percentage available for development tasks, an important number have no Creole or French-language skills.
Financial and material commitment to police development by the international community in the 1990s was enormous but not well coordinated. Partnership was often impeded by state self-interest, sustainability mechanisms were absent, and accountability was inadequate.
In 2000, fatigued donors moved to other priorities at a critical time of Haitian government change. When we returned to Haiti in 2004 once again to address security and police development, it was evident that virtually nothing—equipment, materiel, infrastructure, or training—had survived theft, looting, wanton destruction, or in the case of training, the simple abandonment of principles and procedure.
Today the list of committed partners in Haiti is shorter. Though many countries self-identify as friends of Haiti, the United States and Canada continue to be the major committed donors in policing development. Still, Haiti's reliance on bilateral donors is clear, and donors, once burned, twice shy, need accountability and transparency if they are to contribute the millions necessary yet again.
Combine these elements—hesitant bilateral donors, a fledgling police organization rank with corruption, an uncertain security environment—and the challenges are evident.
We must commit to improving the justice sector as an integrated system. The dysfunctional judicial and corrections systems must be addressed in parallel with policing. Without parallel development no amount of progress in policing is sustainable. Vetting of corrupt, politicized officials must be addressed earnestly and urgently, as very visible signs of governmental commitment to change.
Predicting the future of policing in Haiti is no simple task. On the positive side, the major donors seem of one mind in terms of the challenges and strategies, and seem determined to stay the course over time. But we know there will be no magic solution and no quick fix. A new emerging plan will not look much different from plans that have been tabled before.
What remains an uncertain variable in the formula is the political will of the new Government of Haiti, a will wrapped transparently and characterized by commitment to fundamental justice reform, establishing the rule of law, addressing human rights issues, and tackling systemic corruption. Without it, no amount of resources or training, time or effort, will be enough.
A government committed to change will encourage donors, establish a basis for public confidence, and set standards of behaviour across the public sector. There will be no sustainable change in policing, or any other sector for that matter, without political will as the key in the lock. A Préval-led government demonstrated certain progress in the past. It must be quickly replicated and built upon. If justice is indeed the foundation of sustainable development in all sectors, the future of those Haitians who truly need our assistance depends on it.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think the issues today make the challenge of developing the police more onerous than the first time—albeit Haiti had never previously had a civilian police. We now have a situation in which we essentially have to clean out the wound before it's going to heal. So there has to be a very significant vetting process. There is a number of fairly high-ranking people who have to be vetted from the organization.
We need a stronger organization within the inspector general's office, and in fact this has been identified in current planning. The vetting of some of these people will be a test of the government's will to make substantive change. I echo Madame Laporte's assessment of the current director general of police, Mr. Mario Andresol. To give emphasis to a CIDA program that was run in the 1990s, he is a graduate of our middle and senior management program, which was designed through CIDA. In fact, it's a program that the Haitian national police have asked to be reinstated.
But the challenge will be to clean out the organization before it can be healed, in order to ensure that from a fiscal perspective, the government is prepared to sustain what we can develop—albeit I think a previous witness talked about a future of 8,000 police officers. That doesn't include a border guard customs service, which will be part of the federal police organization, increasing significantly the resources for the inspector general's office—plus the personal security for government officials. So it may well be that we are talking 10,000 to 12,000 people being necessarily to do all of the related security functions within a country that hopes to have all these pillars under one umbrella.
It will take a significant amount of time and a significant amount of money. We need to have the donors committed in terms of staying the course, working collaboratively, because no one donor--and certainly Canada, and I include the United States, with its deep pockets, in this--is prepared to take this on as a singular project. We have to do it collaboratively.
Our contributions have to be well timed and well coordinated. We have to put accountability mechanisms into place and, frankly, hold the Haitian government's feet to the fire on some of these issues. They must lead, they must be partners, but in any partnership, in any partner arrangement, there are obligations on both sides of the fence, and we have to see those carried through.
Those are two very valid questions. Perhaps I could address the second first.
I've spent over three years serving in Haiti, and during that time—and I don't want to understate what I think is perhaps a problem—I've always questioned the figures about the extent of arms in Haiti. During the 1990s, when there was a large, significant multinational force, and in 2004 when there was a large multinational force, during all the time I spent there, there was never once a seizure of a large cache of weapons. I don't think there were ever any more than a dozen weapons, at any one time in any investigation or any military or police action, ever seized. I question exactly how many weapons are there. But that's an aside.
Secondly, I don't want to downplay the notion of disarmament, but I truly feel that the Haitian government will ignore it, to a certain degree. They will go through the motions, as we want to go through the motions, but I'm not sure it's the first thing on the list of priorities that we need to address. So many of these things, within the context of Haitian law, are in the hands of security companies, etc., which from one day to the next could be illegal, or could be gang members who the next day come to work and are part of a private security force.
I don't know how we can do the disarmament. I'm leading into a response to the first question.
The security situation, as difficult as it was in the most recent year I spent there and in this past year, has basically been focused within an area of about six square kilometres in downtown Port-au-Prince. This includes the roads to and from the airport from the downtown core, the port area, and from the ocean towards the central core of Port-au-Prince, perhaps two kilometres. This is the main corridor for the economy of the country. It's where the vast majority of the banditry is going on, where the vast majority of the kidnappings are going on. It's the area surrounding Cité Soleil and areas such as Fort National that are also tangent to bidonvilles or slum areas in that area that have historically been controlled by the gangs.
By and large, the security situation in the country has not been problematic, but because that area of Port-au-Prince is the economic pump, if you will, of the country, everything that went on in that particular area was accentuated and put under a microscope. As surprising as it is, one kidnapping of a key individual would bring the city to a halt. There would be general strikes. The media would use the opportunity to criticize the presence of MINUSTAH, criticize the effectiveness of the interim government.
I'm not trying to downplay the security situation, because God knows, the people who worked for me in downtown Port-au-Prince came under fire every day I was there, for 365 days. I went to bed every night waking up thinking I might have lost somebody—every day. It was very difficult.
Dealing with that situation and being in an environment, first of all, where there is no justice system, where the police mission was what we would call a hybrid mission—we didn't have executive authority, weren't the police of jurisdiction, and had no justice system in which to operate—you find yourself working very close to what the military call “rules of engagement”, which is totally contrary to the way police operate in civil society.
We were there with a dual chapter 6, almost chapter 7 mandate of the UN charter, with, on the one hand, development responsibilities, where we were required to demonstrate, mentor and advise, and train the Haitian National Police on how to operate within a justice system, within a justice sector, to be part of that system, to be accountable to that system. On the other hand, over 50% of the people who were working under my responsibility as foreign police units were coming under fire and in fact were doing battle on many days in a very densely populated environment, where they were expected to essentially work under rules of engagement as opposed to the rule of law and to exercise a use of force policy, which is common within the civilian police. It was an extremely difficult situation for the people on the ground, for the management of MINUSTAH, on the one hand.
Secondly, we had the whole notion of very corrupt elements of the Haitian National Police. We could talk about that all day as being the largest organized gang within the country and responsible for the vast majority of kidnappings, etc.
If the truth be known, for the vast majority of the engagements, if you will, with gangs, with the criminal element, where human rights abuse would have been called into question, where we would have been under the microscope of human rights organizations, and correctly so, we couldn't get in to investigate. You would be under fire. You couldn't go and knock on doors and take statements like you would here, in a post-major event or a post-major crime investigation. You'd go back into the bidonville or the neighbourhood where you had that engagement and you would be under fire again in a guerilla war-like environment. There was no investigation to be done.
On the other side of the coin, there were certain situations where we pushed very diligently and actually started investigations, like the large prison escape in the spring of last year. We strongly suspected that was orchestrated by elements within the cocaine trafficking community and with the complicity of the corrections people at the prison and the police. An investigation was conducted, but because we were not the police of jurisdiction, you basically made your inquiries and you poked and you prodded and you took the police along with you in situations like that and in situations that were under investigation, where the police were considered to be responsible or were being accused of human rights abuse.
The long and the short of it is that we could get investigations so far and then we couldn't get them past the minister of justice. We couldn't get any more assistance from the inspector general's office. We were simply back to the whole notion that we'll just push it under the rug; we'll let it go.
The minister of justice whom we worked with--or at least whom I worked with when I was there--actually did nothing. He was not wilfully blind, but he was participating in the blocking, if you will, of the course of justice by simply doing nothing.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for being here today, ladies and gentlemen. Your presentation was most interesting.
I would first like to congratulate you, Mr. Beer, for your frankness in explaining the problems faced by police officers or members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police over there. I had asked a question of Mr. Thompson, who preceded you, about why we did not have any conclusive results. I do not find you very positive, so I will direct my questions to Ms. Laporte.
Ms. Laporte, I am familiar with the work done by CIDA employees in the field, because I was the critic for the Bloc Québécois on CIDA, and I would not want you to take my questions as reflecting poorly on CIDA. I simply want to understand what happened.
Impunity and corruption have long existed in Haiti. I have a friend who went there in 2000 to do a doctoral thesis and who came back saying that the system is rotten and impunity is omnipresent. In the place where he was living, there were about 5,000 police officers for eight million inhabitants. People describe the situation as horrific.
Since CIDA has been in Haiti for a long time and since I know its workers there well enough to know that usually they are very well informed about what is happening on the ground, why is it that CIDA nevertheless continue to invest in Haiti? It disengaged gradually and has less and less of a financial investment, but it has nevertheless invested in this country. Did we not have an obligation to produce results?
In an announcement on May 1, 2006, the Minister said that CIDA would be investing $48 million in Haiti. Twenty million dollars will go to the local development program to help communities assume responsibility for socio-economic development, and $5 million will be used to support democracy.
There are two major problems in Haiti. First, people must have food. So the first problem is agriculture. The second is security.
Is it not strange to spend $20 million on socio-economic development to promote small business and only $5 million on democracy, when we know that this is such a big problem? You were saying earlier that there was no development possible without security, and vice versa.
What official guarantees do we have that this time this will work? Earlier, you gave some guarantees, but are there any others? Do we have any guarantees from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the UN, or do people simply assume that Préval will take certain actions?
I noticed that it was a joint statement by CIDA and the RCMP. Can any pressure be applied to ensure that this works?
On your question regarding corruption, there is no doubt that we are constantly aware of these situations, and of the culture of impunity that exists there. This culture is changing very gradually. I think that for the time being, the approach is very gradual. I referred to the fact that the director general of the national police force has dealt with some difficult cases. We think that others will appear. You will appreciate that in the interest of the success of the operations, we do not announce them beforehand. He must use very high-level models to send out strong signals to the rest of the population that this culture of impunity is changing and will disappear someday. I think these are very promising steps for the future.
It goes without saying that in managing its projects and programming, CIDA has risk-reduction measures for each project. We have follow-up project officers and control procedures for financing to ensure that the money is spent for the purpose intended and that it does not end up in the pockets of individuals who should not get this money. So we have some very effective financial management procedures in place, together with follow-up officers and financial controls.
We have an obligation to produce results for all of our projects. When we look at the country as a whole, there are a number of factors over which we have no immediate and direct control. We must proceed by means of a political dialogue with other members of the community. I am pleased that you referred to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others.
In order to provide budget support to the government for something in its budget, we need mechanisms to demonstrate that money is for the salaries of police officers, to take this example. The same is true in the case of teachers who were not paid for a number of months. Before we consider whether or not we are going to fund a program, control procedures must be put in place.
With respect to local development, the amount of $48 million does not reflect our entire cooperation effort. I think you will be hearing from Ms. Verner, the minister, who will be appearing before you next week. She will be talking to you about cooperation generally.
CIDA is focused mainly on four areas: governance, democracy and the essential needs in healthcare and education. We are also doing a great deal of work in the area of economic recovery, with credit unions being set up for access to credit, in order to set the economy on its feet. We are also working in the area of electricity infrastructure. We work both with the government and with civil society. I do not think these are choices that have to be made. We have to look at the entire situation and determine which areas are the most promising. The donor community is making a concerted effort to determine where our value added lies. Thus, local development was necessary.
I believe that the speaker who preceded me emphasized the importance of rural development. We don't want to focus all of our efforts on Port-au-Prince. We must take the regions into account.
Are there any guarantees? The guarantees are what they are. We take steps and make provisions to ensure that funds are managed properly. We carry out evaluations to correct the situation when difficulties arise. It would be presumptuous of me to provide absolute guarantees. This is part of the political dialogue and the administrative measures in place.