Rule of law will contribute to lasting stability in Haiti [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 6 September 2018
First of all, I thank Ms. Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary- General for Peacekeeping Operations, for her enlightening briefing.
The United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) is doing excellent work by providing support to the Haitian authorities in a country where the security, economic, social and environmental contexts remain fragile. The protests that took place in July, which prompted the Security Council to request the parties to restore calm, have sorely tested the Haitian National Police and proved the importance of pursuing and stepping up efforts to achieve lasting stability in Haiti, in particular by building the capacity of the Haitian National Police, together with MINUJUSTH. That awareness and, in particular, its translation into action are even more important as we move towards transition through an exit strategy that will begin on the ground with the withdrawal of two police units by 15 April next year.
In that context, I would like to underscore three points that are critical to consolidating the rule of law, without which there will be no lasting stability.
First, with regard to the Haitian National Police — one of the pillars of stability — we welcome the strengthening of the national police force, which now has more than 15,000 officers. In a volatile security context, marked by the presence of criminal gangs in several regions of the country, it is those officers who are helping to build the rule of law on the ground. France welcomes the support provided by MINUJUSTH in that area, in situations that are at times dangerous, and calls on the Haitian authorities to take full responsibility for managing public disturbances ahead of the Mission’s departure. In order to ensure the long-term effectiveness and resilience of law enforcement, France urges the Haitian authorities to avoid politicizing the National Police. As seen in the past, politicization would be incompatible with the lasting stability for which we and the Haitians are striving. It is essential to put in place recruitment procedures based on professional merit, neutrality and impartiality that meet rule-of-law criteria.
Secondly, concerning justice, without which there can be no political legitimacy, it is now up to Haiti to pursue, in line with its national plan, all avenues for improving the judicial system established by MINUJUSTH, including issues related to the efficiency of the criminal justice system and detention conditions in prisons. It is therefore crucial to build the trust of the Haitians in the capacity and willingness of the judicial system to fight crime. At times it is said that this goal can wait, on the grounds that priority should be given to economic development. Nothing could be further from the truth. Equitable and sustainable development depends essentially on building the rule of law under which all economic actors can enjoy the legal certainty that encourages them to invest — that is, to build the future of their nation. Furthermore, there can be no economic development without resolute action to fight corruption. France therefore encourages the Haitian authorities to continue their efforts in that direction and to do their utmost to bring those responsible to justice and eradicate the problem.
Lastly, in connection with the issue of justice I just addressed, it is essential to pursue efforts in the area of respect for human rights in order to assure Haitians of respect for their fundamental rights. That is a prerequisite for the stability of Haiti and the well-being of the Haitian people. France calls for continued efforts to strengthen the Office of the Ombudsperson for Human Rights and to consolidate the implementation of the 2014 strategic plan, in particular by appointing a high-level focal point in the Government. France also calls on Haiti to reduce the number of detainees held in pretrial detention for more than two years, improve detention conditions and launch fully independent investigations into human rights violations committed by law enforcement. It is also essential that transitional justice mechanisms be put in place to shed light on massive human rights violations committed in the past. With regard to that and other issues, France expects the Haitian authorities to redouble their efforts ahead of the transition period and the drawdown of MINUJUSTH.
The United Nations has taken action, as expected by the international community, in particular after the tragic earthquake in 2010. As we approach a new phase in the relationship between Haiti and the United Nations, France strongly encourages the Haitian authorities to make the most of MINUJUSTH — now headed by Ms. La Lime, whom I wish every success in her work — in order to lay the foundation for a successful transition.