7 August 2006

Secretary-General Calls on Police Officers in Haiti to Show "Strong Spirit of Patriotism and Unity in the Face of All Trials"

NEW YORK, 4 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text, translated from the original French, of the statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to officials of the Haitian National Police (HNP) and the United Nations police (UNPOL) in Haiti, delivered in Port-au-Prince on 3 August:

I am very happy to be with you today.  The Haitian National Police plays a fundamental role, as it is the sole Haitian institution responsible for guaranteeing security throughout the country.

I would thus like to express my deep gratitude to the officers of the HNP and UNPOL -- the police component of MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) -- who perform their duties with courage, often risking their personal safety.  In particular, I would like to pay my respects to the police officers who have lost their lives in the service of the nation.

Unfortunately, the HNP was one of the pillars of the State that was most seriously affected by the unrest that troubled the country in 2003 and 2004.  Established in 1995, with the assistance of the United Nations and other international partners, it, nevertheless, succeeded in making remarkable progress in strengthening and establishing internal training and control mechanisms, for instance the Office of the Inspector-General.

Today, I note with joy that a new stage will be reached in favour of institutional strengthening.

I have in mind in particular the training of 1,146 new police officers, 37 Commissioners and 49 Inspectors, and the registration of over 5,700 officers.  I also have in mind the ratification by the Senate of the decision of President Preval to confirm Mario Andresol in the post of Director-General of HNP.  Mr. Andresol has already demonstrated great professionalism and devotion in exercising his difficult duties.  Finally, I salute the recent appointment of the Secretary of State for Public Security, Luc-Eucher Joseph, who knows and understands the reality of the situation of the HNP.

Thanks to the collaboration between MINUSTAH and HNP, we have succeeded in stabilizing the country and holding elections.  The Haitian Government must now give priority to the strengthening of State institutions.  The recent resurgence of violence in the capital unfortunately confirms this.

It is essential to continue the reform and professionalization of the HNP.  The first stage should be certification of all officers, in order to provide the country with a security force capable of ensuring public security.  It is intolerable that a minority of corrupt police officers or those involved in serious human rights violations should tarnish the image of the institution as a whole, when we are aware of all the unfailing efforts and devotion of the majority of HNP officers.  In order for professionalism to be sustainable this time, it must go hand in hand with a strategy of reform and strengthening of judicial institutions and prison administration.

The technical aspects necessary to set up a reform plan for the HNP are already well under way, thanks to the combined efforts of UNPOL and the HNP leadership.  But, we must also think of the Haitian men and women who are the foundation of this institution.  The members of HNP must receive decent salaries and be able to count on acceptable working conditions.  They should also benefit from ongoing professional training.  Facilities are precarious and means are lacking.  As long as this situation persists, it will constitute an obstacle to the reform process.  It is thus clear that the Haitian State needs increased support from donors and friendly countries.  In that regard, I wish to thank all the international partners for the generosity they have already shown.  And I encourage them to renew their solidarity towards Haiti.

An inescapable condition for the consolidation of the State, the reform of the HNP is an infinitely complex task that will take time, a great deal of time.  Political interest groups and even criminal groups who are opposed will not fail to present obstacles.  Thus, it is essential for all police officers at all levels to show a strong spirit of patriotism and unity in the face of all trials.

I know that you are fully aware of the crucial role you are going to play in helping the HNP to become a professional and effective institution, and in regaining the people's trust.  I can assure you that the United Nations, UNPOL in particular, will continue to make every effort to assist you in this difficult but noble task.  I also invite you to benefit from the experience and skill of our officers.

I would like to end my remarks by once again expressing my satisfaction and gratitude for the work accomplished by all the members of UNPOL, and by wishing them every success in their continuing efforts.  Their success will also be the success of UNPOL and, eventually, of all the Haitian people.

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