[News] Wikileaks and Haiti - US and UN Oversaw Integration of Ex-Paramilitaries Into Haitian Police
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 17 14:51:16 EDT 2011
August 17, 2011
US and UN Oversaw Integration of Ex-Paramilitaries Into Haitian Police
Wikileaks and Haiti
By JEB SPRAGUE
Throughout 2004 and 2005, Haitis unelected de
facto authorities, working alongside foreign
officials, integrated at least 400 ex-army
paramilitaries into the countrys police force,
secret U.S. Embassy cables reveal.
For a year and a half following the ouster of
Haitis elected government on Feb. 29, 2004, UN,
OAS, and U.S. officials, in conjunction with
post-coup Haitian authorities, vetted the
countrys police force officer by officer
integrating paramilitaries with the goal of both
strengthening the force and providing an
alternative career path for paramilitaries.
Hundreds of police considered loyal to
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's deposed
government were purged. Some were jailed and a
few killed, according to numerous sources interviewed.
At the same time, former soldiers from the
disbanded Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH), who were
assembled in a paramilitary rebel force which
worked with the countrys elite opposition to
bring down Aristide, were stationed officially
and unofficially in many towns across the country.
As part of this, an extrajudicial strike
brigade was assembled in Pétion-Ville. It carried
out brutal raids (sometimes alongside police),
often several times a week, in the capitals
coup-resisting neighborhoods, as documented in a
November 2004 University of Miami human rights study.
The secret U.S. dispatches detailing the police
forces overhaul were part of 1,918 Haiti-related
cables obtained by the media organization
WikiLeaks and provided to Haïti Liberté.
The cables show that UN and U.S. officials saw
the program as a useful way to disarm and
demobilize combatants, but the implications of
providing coup-making paramilitaries with
government security jobs have been hidden or ignored.
The cables also make clear that the US
officials using redlines andred flags
took on a leading role in the reforms, minutely
following the process of repopulating Haitis police.
Millions of dollars in funding for the
demobilization and integration of the FAdH was
gathered mainly through the UN and the U.S.
but officials also looked to other governments for funding.
Immediately after the coup, the integration
process was carried out by officials of the
so-called Interim Government of Haiti (IGOH),
under U.S., OAS and UN supervision. Then,
starting in November 2004, a longer-term
apparatus, the UNs DDR (Disarmament,
Demobilization, and Reintegration) program, was
set up. Part of its duties included a continued
integration of some of the paramilitaries into
the Haitian National Police (HNP).
The U.S. Embassy cables go into detail about
the integration of paramilitaries into the HNP
and other government agencies. One of the most
revealing cables is titled Haitis Northern
Ex-Military Turn Over Weapons; Some to Enter National Police.
The Mar. 15, 2005 cable provides an overview of a
gathering two days earlier in Cap-Haïtien
attended by Haitis de facto Prime Minister
Gérard Latortue and the UN Secretary-Generals
Special Representative to Haiti, Juan Gabriel
Valdès. The officials oversaw a symbolic
disarmament, where more than 300 members of
Haiti's demobilized military in Cap-Haïtien
turned in a token seven weapons and then boarded buses to the capital.
The UN and IGOH officials parked the
paramilitaries at Port-au-Princes Magistrates
School, where many other ex-soldiers were being placed.
The cable describes how previously high-level
IGOH officials had made promises to the ex-FAdH
paramilitaries. Some of the ex-soldiers in
Cap-Haïtien said they had been told by the PM's
nephew and security advisor Youri Latortue and
the PM's political advisor Paul Magloire that
they would be admitted into the HNP, explained
the cable by U.S. Ambassador James Foley. This
raised a red-flag for us and the rest of the international community...
But at the Mar. 13 meeting, Gérard Latortue made
clear this was not the case, telling the
paramilitaries that integration into the HNP
would be a possibility for some, but they had to
understand that not everyone would make it into
the police. Ex-soldiers not qualified for the HNP
could be hired into other public administration
positions (e.g., customs, border patrol, etc.), Foley wrote.
But the UN and IGOH authorities wanted to keep
some of the ex-military together as a cohesive
unit prepped for integration into the police, the
cable reveals. The officials handed the matter
over to UNOPS, a wing of the UN that focuses on
project management and procurement services.
Accordingly, UNOPS has been working to relocate
both the Managing Office [for Demobilized
Military] and the approximately 80 individuals
from the Magistrate's School to a former military
camp in the Carrefour neighborhood outside of
Port-au-Prince, wrote Foley. (In March 2011, the
author visited an ex-FAdH-run training camp in the Carrefour area.)
UN and U.S. officials appear to have often
focused on achieving symbolic successes like the
demobilization of paramilitary forces. The
symbolism of the ex-military disarming and
leaving Haiti's second-largest city represents a
significant breakthrough, Foley concluded in his Mar. 15 cable.
At the time, around 800 ex-military men were
being housed in Port-au-Prince, with UN help.
Of the 400 former soldiers integrated into the
police, about 200 came in 2004 from the 15th
graduating class of HNP cadets (called a
promotion in Haiti), and 200 from the 17th
promotion in 2005, the cables say.
The number 200 was no coincidence. The Embassy
had told the IGOH that the USG [U.S. Government]
would not support more than 200 former military
being included in Promotion 17 because the USG
was concerned that inclusion of ex-FADH in large
numbers would detract from ongoing police reform
measures; they therefore had to be closely
scrutinized, a May 6, 2005 cable explains.
This cable also reveals Washingtons dominance of
the police forces reconstruction. In a meeting,
the Embassy told the HNPs chief Léon Charles
that the practice of allowing a class of people
to receive special quotas for class enrollment
(as had happened with the ex-FADH) had to end,
wrote Foley. Dutifully, Charles agreed and
stated that the practice would end immediately.
This did not mean that ex-soldiers wouldnt
continue to be integrated, only that future
recruitment drives would make no distinction with
regard to the former military, but would also not
discriminate against anyone for previous duty in
the Haitian Armed Forces, Charles said, according to the cable.
An Apr. 5, 2005 cable explains that the 16th
promotion of 370 HNP cadets included none of
[those who] had a history of ex-FADH activity.
In another Mar. 15, 2005 cable entitled DG
[Director General] Charles Update on Ex-FADH in
the Haitian National Police, Foley outlined how
the process of integration was occurring with new HNP cadet classes.
OAS officials charged with vetting police
candidates reported approximately 400 ex-FADH
candidates at the Police Academy on March 11
undergoing physical fitness testing, his cable
explained. The men, who had just previously
served in paramilitary squads around the country,
were vying for 200 slots in the HNP. The cable
explains that a number of such individuals had been hired in prior months.
Police chief Charles, stated that the ex-FADH
from the 15th class who were rushed on to the
streets last fall [of 2004] would return to
class. It was clear that officials felt somewhat
worried about the new men they were bringing into
the police force, so they decided that the
ex-FAdH cadets from the 17th promotion would,
upon graduation, be deployed throughout Haiti on
an individual basis and not as a group.
Charles added that, among the 200 ex-FAdH in the
15th promotion, most had been assigned to small
stations in Port-au-Prince, adding that,
although they were disciplined, they were older and physically slower.
OAS officials noted that Haitian police officials
who were now assisting the OAS in its vetting
process feared some of the former soldiers they
were interviewing: HNP personnel assisting the
OAS with the vetting program were afraid to
interview some of the ex-FADH candidates out of
concern they might be targeted if the panel disqualified an applicant.
The U.S. embassy closely supervised how Haitian
de facto officials conducted the integration,
worried about the impact of any failures. Foley
was pleased that Charles was holding ex-soldiers
to the same requirements as civilians for
entrance into the HNP, a policy resulting from
continuous pressure from us, he wrote in the
Mar. 15 cable. But Foley worried about political
pressures and decisions of PM [Gérard] Latortue,
Justice Minister [Bernard] Gousse, and others, his cable reported.
We have raised this issue with them on countless
occasions, pointing out the real danger the IGOH
runs of losing international support for
assistance to the HNP if the process of
integrating ex-FADH into the police does not hew
to the redlines we have laid down, Foley wrote.
Embassy officials, along with the OAS mission,
would monitor the recruitment, testing, and
training process, including a review of the
written exam, test scores, and fitness results.
Ambassador Foley added that the pressure to
bring ex-FADH into the HNP remains high. He was
likely referring to the calls made by some of
Haitis most powerful right-wing politicians and
businessmen, many having established
relationships with the paramilitaries back when they were soldiers.
Furthermore, Chief Léon Charles was worried that
others in the IGOH had made unrealistic promises
to the ex-FADH about jobs in the HNP in order to
convince them to demobilize, the ambassador wrote.
Charles fretted that the Cap-Haïtien group set
an example that others may follow, and indicated
the IGOH could have over 1,000 former soldiers
looking for jobs soon, including the 235 from
Cap-Haïtien; 300 from Ouanaminthe; 200 from the
Central Plateau; 150 from Les Cayes; 100 from Arcahaie, and 80 from St. Marc.
The second Mar. 15 cable concludes that the USG
was willing to contribute $3 million to the DDR
process but could not release the funds until the
IGOH concluded an agreement with the UN on an
acceptable DDR strategy and program. The U.S.
Embassy, playing a dominant role, was also
clearly seeking to operate in accord with a
transnational policy network U.S. officials had
helped to oversee other such integration
processes in El Salvador and Iraq, and the DDR
program has been deployed in a number of other
countries where UN forces operate, such as
Burundi, the Central African Republic, Cote
dIvoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda,
Afghanistan, Nepal, and the Solomon Islands.
After Charles provided information on the
monitoring and processes through which the
ex-FAdH paramilitaries were integrated into the
police force, Ambassador Foley remarked in an
Apr. 5, 2005 cable: The fleeting reply to
requests for updates on human rights
investigations demonstrate the HNP's inability to
perform internal investigations.
During their first year in office, IGOH
authorities appear to have received far less
oversight in their handling of ex-FADH
integration into the police. Until now, the
Interior Ministry and/or the Managing Office [for
Demobilized Soldiers] have been in charge of
identifying possible ex-FADH candidates for the
HNP, Foley wrote in one of his Mar. 15 cables.
Then he made clear Washingtons oversight: This
needs to change, so that ex-FADH candidates for
the police come out of the
reintegration/counseling process that the UN
(with U.S. support through the International
Organization for Migration) will manage.
While former soldiers were being integrated into
the HNP, hundreds of police who had been loyal to
Aristides government were fired, their names and
positions documented in a list put together by
Guy Edouard, a former officer with the Special
Unit to Guard the National Palace (USGPN). In a
2006 interview, Edouard explained that some of
these former police and Palace security officers
had been "hunted down" after the coup.
Furthermore, with US support, Youri Latortue, a
former USGPN officer and Prime Minister
Latortues security and intelligence chief, had
led efforts to "get rid of the people he did not like," Edouard said.
Gun battles continued to occur between the
Haitian police and a handful of gangs in the
capitals poorest slums well into 2005, and on
numerous occasions, police opened fire on
peaceful anti-coup demonstrations. April 27 was
the fourth occasion since February where the HNP
used deadly force, explained a May 6, 2005
cable. The Embassy was vexed that despite
repeated requests, we have yet to see any
objective written reports from the HNP that
sufficiently articulate the grounds for using
deadly force. Equally disturbing are HNP
first-hand reports from the scene of these
events. These are often confusing and irrational
and fail to meet minimum police reporting requirements.
The HNP, however, was working with UN forces in
conducting lethal raids. Léon Charles
acknowledged that UN troops had a standard
practice of putting more lightly armed HNP
forces in front of its units as they moved into
Cité Soleil, and this often resulted in the HNP
overreacting and prematurely resorting to the use
of deadly force, the May 6 cable notes.
In a 2001 study published in the academic journal
Small Wars and Insurgencies, researcher Eirin
Mobekk explained in part how the U.S. worked to
integrate large numbers of former soldiers into
the HNP as Aristide, to thwart future coups,
dissolved the FAdH in 1995. Washingtons strategy
was to hedge in Lavalas with the new police force.
A decade later, this policy was resurrected. Just
as Washington recycled part of the military force
that carried out the 1991 coup, it (along with
the UN and the IGOH) recycled part of the
paramilitary force that carried out violence leading up to the 2004 coup.
The WikiLeaked cables reveal just how closely
Washington and the UN oversaw the formation of
Haitis new police and signed off on the
integration of ex-FAdH paramilitaries who had for
years prior violently targeted Haitis popular
classes and democratically elected governments.
Jeb Sprague will publish a forthcoming book on
paramilitarism with Monthly Review Press. He has
a blog at
and tweets as <http://twitter.com/>http://twitter.com/#!/jebsprague
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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