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Haiti’s newsreel: Regional leaders are concerned

The deteriorating security concern in Haiti has prompted the UN to extend the mandate of its observer mission in the country for an additional year. The Security Council adopted resolution 2547 to renew the mandate of the Bureau intégré des Nations unies en Haïti (BINUH) for another year. Thirteen (13) members of the Security Council voted for and two (2) abstained, China and Russia. The Chinese government argues that the mandate does not address the serious problems facing the nation, while the Russians feel the resolution fails to take into consideration the obligation to respect the Haitian constitution and take the Haitian peoples’ interest into consideration. For the French, the resolution is welcome because it provides the environment for the urgent need for a national dialogue that brings together all the interested parties in order to allow for the organization of regular free, fair and transparent elections. France recommended that the Haitian government doubles its efforts to put necessary reforms in place to ensure security of the Haitian people. As for the Dominican Republic, the new mandate will allow their neighbor to work towards stability and development. The BINUH is charged with the responsibility of advising the Haitian government on ways to promote and ensure political stability and good governance, as well as ensuring a peaceful and stable environment in the country. BINUH replaced MINUJUSTH on October 16, 2019.

Elsewhere, opposition political leaders have decided to create a new political coalition with the purpose to increase organizing and demonstrations to force President Jovenel Moïse to leave office on February 7, 2021. The various political parties or organizations coming together include Organisation du peuple en lutte (Opl), la Fusion des sociaux-démocrates (Fusion), le Mouvement chrétien pour une nouvelle Haïti (Mochrenah), Ayiti an aksyon (AAA), Verite, Veye yo and Inifòs. The coalition plans to hold talks with other civil society groups to propose a plan to move the country out of the current crisis, and  also devise a plan for the creation of a transition government once  the current president out of office.

With the increasing demonstrations crippling the country come increasing police brutality and killings. The depth of insecurity has resulted in the death of innocent citizens, especially as the police have been out manned and outgunned by bold street gangs who operate openly and with impunity. The police, tasked to rein in the armed groups that are sowing terror in the country often take measures that unfortunately violate the human rights of innocent people, as evidenced in the deaths of two people in the span of two weeks. On Friday, October 2, 2020, a student at the Teachers college, Grégory Saint-Hilaire was mortally wounded on campus after, according to eyewitnesses; a police officer assigned to the National Palace chased him onto the campus where he was hit by a bullet. In the second case which occurred the night of October 15, the police carried out a special operation in the l’hôtel Révélation, in Delmas 35, where according to their own sources, a fellow police officer with the USGPN unit, Officer Jean Rosner Glezil was killed by a fellow officer. According to the hotel administration, the officer clearly identified himself but was still gunned down.

The officer’s death has created a polemic within the country with the Ombudsman, Renan Hédouville accusing the spokesperson of the police commissioner, Michel-Ange Louis Jeune, of minimizing the death of the officer. The Ombudsman accuses the security forces of lying instead of owing up to the crime and presents their excuses. He charges the Prime Minister to set the tone for the security forces in order to curtail what is becoming an all too common occurrence with government officials as victims as well of this new type of police misconduct and brutality. The Office of the Ombudsman is concerned because recently, on October 8, the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Nader Joiséus who was stopped by the police and ordered out of his car with his security detail. It was only by the intervention of a friend was he let go. A week later, a young lawyer, Caleb Jean Baptiste would be a victim of police brutality when he was savagely beaten by the police. If these officers are not made responsible for their actions, they will continue to trample on the human rights of the people and rule of law will not be respected.

Finally, the government has agreed on one of the main grievances and demands of the police union, namely the provision of health care services to the officers. Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe signed an agreement with the Management of Bernard Mews hospital, one of the reputed hospitals and trauma center, to treat police officers.

Dela Harlley

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