19 October 2005
Security Council Urges Haiti to Take Necessary Steps to Ensure Holding of 2005 Elections, Following Address by Prime Minister
NEW YORK, 18 October (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon urged the Transitional Government of Haiti to follow through on the reform of its criminal justice institutions and to take the steps it had agreed on to ensure that elections would take place this year, after the country's Prime Minister, Gérard Latortue, briefed it on the situation there.
Through a statement read out by its President, Gheorghe Dumitru of Romania, the Council stressed the primary importance of holding the first round of free and fair elections in Haiti in 2005, so that the elected authorities could take office on 7 February 2006. While welcoming recent steps taken by the Transitional Government and the Provisional Electoral Council, it noted with concern that important challenges to the elections remained to be overcome.
In particular, the Security Council urged Haitian authorities to work with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to develop a phased electoral plan as a matter of priority, with a view to finalizing a feasible electoral calendar. It also urged the Haitian authorities to publish swiftly the final list of candidates for the elections and to agree in consultation with MINUSTAH on a list of voting centres.
In regard to criminal justice, the Council urged the Transitional Government to put into effect reforms of the Haitian National Police (HNP) and the judicial system, working with MINUSTAH. It stressed the need to investigate fully any allegations of serious crimes and human rights violations committed by police.
"Haiti is at a critical juncture", the Council's statement concluded, agreeing with the latest report of the Secretary-General on the situation, and stressing the need for continued international involvement following the elections.
Prior to issuing that statement, in a separate meeting, Prime Minister Latortue told the Council that the political situation in Haiti had developed in the right direction, with more than 40 political parties and more than 30 presidential candidates. The Transitional Government had done its utmost to ensure that all political parties were included in the political process.
He said he wished to renew the Transitional Government's commitment to ensuring a transfer of power on 7 February 2006, in accordance with Haiti's Constitution. There had been some delays in the electoral process, due mainly to the need for the Provisional Electoral Council to work out the real nature of its functions. In close cooperation with MINUSTAH, that Council had decided this past Saturday that it should not be concerned with the day-to-day management of the electoral process but instead focus on providing overall guidelines for the elections. When he returned to Haiti next week, the Transitional Government would be in a position to submit a new electoral timetable.
In regard to police reform, he said that the new Police Chief had been working closely with MINUSTAH on increasing security and rooting out corruption. While backsliding and derailing were possible, the Haitian National Police would bring to justice all those who deliberately perpetrated human rights violations. The recent arrest of 15 police officers was proof of the Government's determination.
As for the judicial system, he said it was necessary to remember that it had been corrupt in Haiti for decades on end. Technical assistance was needed to bring about reform and to train judges, in order to create the working conditions that would ensure their independence. While the political will existed, resources were not always available and attitudes would take a while to change. A number of countries, including France and Canada, had stated their intention to help.
Mr. Latortue said that there remained major problem in terms of disarmament. While disarmament, demobilization and reintegration projects were beginning to bear fruit, Haiti had unique problems. In the past, gangs had often worked in complicity with the police, who, recruited under the former regime, blackmailed the innocent population. The new Police Chief was fighting such corruption at the risk of his own life.
For security during the elections, he said he had appealed to the European Union to make available a number of police officers. It was important not to be misled by the apparent calm in Haiti, as there were forces that opposed democracy.
He said the humanitarian situation also remained precarious. The proper management of economic and financial affairs was beginning to show results and a number of infrastructure projects had been set up, but funds were coming in slowly.
Haiti, he stressed, was still a country in crisis, threatened by civil war. He thanked the Council for having supported Haiti in June and for renewing MINUSTAH's mandate until 15 February. The Mission's presence would indeed continue to be needed for some time, and he stressed the need to begin considering its budget for 2006.
The meeting at which Prime Minister Latortue addressed the Council began at 3:15 p.m. and ended at 3:45 p.m. The meeting at which the Council's statement was read began at 5:30 p.m. and adjourned at 5:40 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2005/50, reads as follows:
"The Security Council expresses its full support for the work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdés.
"The Security Council stresses the primary importance of ensuring that Haiti benefits from transparent, inclusive, free and fair elections, in accordance with international democratic standards, and open to all political candidates that have renounced violence, thereby enabling legitimate leadership at the national and local levels. The Council conveys its concern regarding the risk of delays in the electoral process, and underlines international expectations that the first round of national elections should take place in 2005, and all efforts should be undertaken so that the democratically elected authorities take office on 7 February 2006 in accordance with the Haitian Constitution. The Council notes, with appreciation, that, so far, more than 3 million people have been registered. The Council praises the Organization of American States (OAS) and other relevant international stakeholders for their contribution to that process. The Council welcomes the representation of a broad range of Haitian political opinion in the electoral process and underlines the importance of a collaborative approach by political leaders. National reconciliation and political dialogue should continue to be promoted as a means to ensure long-term stability and good governance.
"The Security Council notes with concern that important challenges to the preparations of the elections remain yet to be overcome. While welcoming the recent steps taken by the Transitional Government and the "Conseil Électoral Provisoire" (CEP), the Council urges them to perform the 10 urgent tasks required to ensure that elections will take place this year, which were endorsed by the Transitional Government on 17 September 2005 and reiterated by the "Core Group" on 18 October 2005. The Council calls for effective and prompt decision-making in key areas by the relevant Haitian authorities, and urges the Haitian authorities to make full use of MINUSTAH's advice and assistance in the organization of elections. The Council calls upon them to work with MINUSTAH to develop a phased electoral plan as a matter of priority, with a view to finalizing a feasible electoral calendar. The Council also urges the Haitian authorities to publish swiftly the final list of candidates for the elections, and to agree in consultation with MINUSTAH upon a list of voting centres that ensures voter access and takes into account budgetary, security and logistical implications.
"The Security Council strongly supports the Mission's endeavours to ensure a secure and stable environment in Haiti, which is crucial for the country's progress and to enable the electoral process to take place. The Council recognizes MINUSTAH's contribution to the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law in the country, and underlines the need for strong and coordinated assistance to enable the reform and restructuring of Haiti's rule of law institutions. To this end, the Council urges the Transitional Government, working with MINUSTAH, to put into effect the initiatives called for in resolution 1608 (2005) concerning the Haitian National Police (HNP) reform and restructuring plan, as well as the reform of the Judicial System, in order to end impunity and ensure the due process. The Council welcomes the improvements in the security situation, due to the resolve of MINUSTAH to act in support of the Transitional Government. The Council expresses concern regarding reports of involvement of some officers of the HNP in serious crimes and human rights violations and stresses the need to investigate fully any allegations of serious crimes and human rights violations. The Council welcomes the deployment of MINUSTAH's additional military and police personnel, in accordance with resolution 1608 (2005), and expresses gratitude to troop- and police-contributing countries.
"The Security Council reiterates the need for the Transitional Government and MINUSTAH to begin immediately effective implementation of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. The Council stresses the need to implement high-visibility quick-impact projects that create jobs. The Council also recognizes the need of maintaining stability in the period immediately following the elections, including through continued international presence, and to ensure that key Haitian institutions can function adequately, specially those institutions addressing rule of law and development. The Council recognizes the importance of the upcoming Donor Conference to be held in Brussels, on 20 and 21 October, and calls upon donors to continue to disburse the pledged funds. The Council recognizes further that this Conference constitutes an important opportunity to further elaborate on short-, medium- and long-term strategies, within a unified framework, to ensure coordination and continuity in a coherent and well-prioritized response to Haitian problems. Haiti is at a critical juncture. While ultimately the responsibility for Haiti's future lies with its Government and people, the international community must continue to provide support."
As the Security Council took up the situation in Haiti this afternoon, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in that country (MINUSTAH), which covers developments between 13 May and 29 September.
Haiti is at a critical juncture, according to the Secretary-General. There is a good prospect for a credible election with candidates representing a broad range of political opinion, but the situation is fragile and there is a need for greater openness and improved decision-making in the electoral process. During that process, there are also technical problems that need to be solved, along with the possibility of increased violence. Haiti also faces persisting impunity and disregard for human rights.
He says that, to increase confidence in fair elections, it is vital that the Transitional Government address concerns with the electoral law and facilitate inclusiveness. The provision of public financing to political parties would help reduce the risk of reliance upon dubious sources of funding. The leaders of political parties, the Transitional Government and civil society should build cooperation across party lines. In addition, the institutional capacity of the Provisional Electoral Council needs to be urgently strengthened along with the other priority actions identified by MINUSTAH and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Secretary-General expresses appreciation for the substantial financial support pledged by internal donors for the elections, and urges that pledges be disbursed and necessary resources be made available. At the same time, the international community should be ready to play a greater role in the organization of the elections, which require a short-term increase in resources for MINUSTAH.
In regard to security, the Secretary-General says that pressure needs to be maintained on illegal armed groups. Security operations should be accompanied by control of drug and weapons flows, as well as humanitarian and development assistance, all of which require timely and sufficient resources. During the election period, a useful message would be sent if Member States indicated their readiness to back up MINUSTAH with an offshore deployment.
To maintain internal stability, extend State authority and provide a firm platform for the incoming elected Government, the reform of the Haitian National Police must be carried out in parallel with the improvement of the functioning of the judicial and penal systems. It is also essential that the Haitian authorities work closely with MINUSTAH to strengthen human rights, end impunity and address illegal, arbitrary and prolonged intention.
Assistance from the international community will remain indispensable in Haiti for at least a few years, as the Administration that takes office after the elections will face political, security and human rights challenges, while having limited technical capacity and few resources. Social and economic problems need to be addressed simultaneously with security, particularly after the elections, when unrealistic expectations could lead to instability. For that reason, donor support of labour-intensive projects, central and local authorities and longer-term poverty-reduction is critical.
Briefing by Prime Minister of Haiti
GÉRARD LATORTUE, Prime Minister of Haiti, said it was the second time this year that he was meeting with the Council to discuss the situation in his country. He had read with interest the Secretary-General's report on MINUSTAH. His Government was grateful for the support of the United Nations. He wished to renew the Transitional Government's commitment to ensuring a transfer of power on 7 February 2006, in accordance with Haiti's Constitution. That commitment would guarantee the Government's credibility. On 7 February, the Interim President would transfer power to the newly-elected President. Following that, the new President would form his government and appoint a new Prime Minister.
The political situation in Haiti had developed in the right direction, he said. Today, there were more than 40 political parties and more than 30 presidential candidates. The political parties were working well together. In that regard, he thanked Norway for organizing a meeting of the different parties. The parties had signed a pact on governability to guarantee that whoever was elected would work with the opposition. That was a first in his country's political history. The Transitional Government had done its utmost to ensure that all political parties were included in the political process. The parties had met to set up a committee for electoral safeguards.
Turning to elections, he said there had been some delays in the electoral process, due mainly to the need for the Provisional Electoral Council to work out the real nature of its functions. Like other councils, members of the Electoral Council should not be concerned with the day-to-day management of the electoral process but instead focus on providing guidelines and strategies for the elections. That had been done this past Saturday with the establishment of a new Director-General for the Council, a decision that had been taken in close cooperation with MINUSTAH. The international community had witnessed the establishment of that body, and had given it the necessary support to speed up the electoral process.
A series of steps had also been taken to reduce any restraints that might put a brake on the electoral process. The Transitional Government would be in a position next week to submit a new electoral timetable to ensure that a transition of power could take place on 7 February.
On security, he noted that the situation was much better with the steps the Council had taken in June and with its recommendations for greater cooperation between MINUSTAH and the National Police. Remaining security issues had been reduced to a minimum. The arrival of 700 police officers from Jordan would also help the security situation. Cooperation between the Mission and the National Police had improved. The appointment of a new Police Chief had also helped the situation, as he better understood the idea of partnership than his predecessor. In short, security in Haiti was not as serious a problem as in the past.
There remained, however, the major problem of disarmament, he said. While disarmament, demobilization and reintegration teams were beginning to bear fruit, the examples of other countries in that regard did not necessarily apply to Haiti. There had been some noteworthy successes, however. In the past, gangs had often worked in complicity with the police, who, recruited under the former regime, blackmailed the innocent population. The new Police Chief had been courageous enough to put his own house in order, arresting 15 police officers last week, with arrests continuing. The work of the new Police Chief was delicate and even jeopardized his own life.
Taking stock of the situation, MINUSTAH had sent its own security to ensure the safety of the new Police Chief. While things were moving in the right direction, all concerned would have to work harder to maintain a secure environment during the elections. In that regard, he had appealed to the European Union to make available a number of police officers during the elections. It was important not to be misled by the apparent calm in Haiti, as there were forces that opposed democracy and honest and free elections.
Turning to the issue of human rights, he noted that the Mission had worked to suppress human rights violations. There was a fine line, however, between fighting impunity and defending human rights. If there was some semblance of human rights violations, they were not deliberate. The United Nations Mission was doing its utmost to protect the population. The National Police were joining forces with the Mission to ensure that security prevailed in Haiti. While backsliding and derailing were possible, once detected, the National Police, under the command of the new Police Chief, would bring to justice all those who deliberately perpetrated human rights violations. The recent arrest of 15 police officers was proof of the Government's determination to ensure respect for human rights.
When discussing the issue of justice, he said it was necessary to remember that the judicial system in Haiti had been corrupt for decades on end. The Transitional Government could not repair all the damage of the past. Technical assistance was needed to reform the justice system and to train judges, thereby creating the working conditions that would ensure their independence. While the political will existed, resources were not always available. Attitudes had to change. A number of countries, including France and Canada, had stated their intention to help in that regard. Without justice, there could be no development.
Continuing, he said the humanitarian situation remained precarious. The Transitional Government had undertaken many efforts to improve the humanitarian situation, and had submitted a well-balanced, zero-deficit budget for 2005-2006. The proper management of economic and financial affairs was beginning to bear fruit. A number of infrastructure projects had been set up and funds were coming in, albeit slowly. He hoped that upcoming meetings with the European Union in Brussels would help address that situation. International assistance was slowly coming in, but Haiti was still a country in crisis, threatened by civil war. He hoped bureaucratic processes could be eased and that the next Government might be in a position to get things started when it assumed power.
Concluding, he thanked the Council for having supported Haiti in June and for renewing MINUSTAH's mandate until 15 February, just eight days after the installation of a new Government. The Mission's presence would continue to be needed for some time to come. In that regard, he stressed the need to begin considering its budget for 2006.
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