Of late, it too often seems too little too late for helping multi-troubled Haiti. With Hurricane Thomas bearing down with expected torrential rains by Friday, Canadian External Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon stepped up to the plate today to announce that Canada will build the new Haitian Police Headquarters AND train their police in First Aid techniques.
At first, one should applaud such largesse, if not for the fact that after almost a year and billions of dollars in aid...too many people are still sheltering in tents! Perhaps building some decent housing out of our lackadaisical and idle forest industry would be more beneficial? After all, British Columbia is awash in a beetle killed forest and too many mills are idle. And how about lending them a hand with reforestation and erosion technology?
Often it seems poor old Haiti needs last rites..rather than First Aid.
Building a new Cop Shop sends a bit of a chill down a few people's spines. The RCMP has already had a hand in "training" the Haitian police in the past..and NOT too the best effect for many;
RCMP backs murderous Haitian Police force
The Peoples Voice
By Tim Pelzer
"Since the US/Canadian/French-backed overthrow of elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have been training and supervising police in Haiti who are killing residents in poor neighbourhoods.
Two different RCMP officers have been in charge of the
United Nations Police Mission (UNPOL): David Beer, who came to Haiti directly from Iraq in May 2004, where he was teaching counter-insurgency tactics, and Graham Muir, who replaced Beer in mid 2005.
Today, Muir commands a 1,600-strong UNPOL contingent that includes 100 RCMP and Quebec Provincial Police officers, under the mandate of the Brazilian led�??UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which is responsible for training and overseeing the Haitian National Police (HNP). As UNPOL Commissioner, Muir takes part in all high level planning and strategy meetings, be they military
Canada is also involved in other ways with the HNP. The
Canadian International Development Agency hired retired Montreal Police Chief Claude Rochon to work closely with the HNP high command to create a new “strategic framework” for policing in Haiti.
According to a University of Miami Law school report, Haiti: Human rights Investigation, released in 2005, the HNP has degenerated into a murderous force under the RCMP led UNPOL. Arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial murder of suspects and witnesses are routine Haitian police practices, states the report’s author, human rights attorney Thomas Griffin.
Griffin and other University of Miami Law school investigators spoke with HNP officers who agreed to be interviewed only on conditions of anonymity because they feared reprisals from fellow police. These unidentified officers were frustrated and angry because since the overthrow of Aristide, honest, well trained officers are passed over for promotion. Only former soldiers without police training have been promoted to high command positions. In turn, these officers only promote other former soldiers.
Now, former soldiers occupy most municipal police chief positions, reports Griffin. Officers expressed frustration working with ex-soldiers because of their lack of police knowledge and skills. The Haitian police officers also complained that their commanders are often corrupt.
Aristide’s government disbanded the Haitian military in 1995 because of its brutal history of killing, torture, extortion and coups. Many of Haiti’s military officers graduated from the Georgia-based School of the Americas (renamed in 2001 as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), where the US military trained many of Latin America’s most notorious human rights abusers."
Canada has given much to Haiti over the years. This includes almost $350 Million in public and Government "matching" funds raised after the earthquake earlier this year. Ther is much more earmarked for further rebuilding and development. We are, after all, part of the Francophone world too and need to aid our beleagured neighbours. Perhaps a hand up is in order rather than a rifle butt across the back?
Last January saw some commited RCMP officers die doing duty in the beleagured country. Fair enough that we commit to helping supply some Law & Order in a very fractured and frightened nation. There's a fine line between First Aid and Last Aid.
The police in Canada have enough problems these days to sort out...from gang violence to "In Custody" deaths to missing women and too much tasers!
Perhaps it's time to actually follow the "Priority Action Approach" and fix some policing problems closer to home?
Is some true political "triage" in order...or is Mr. Cannon just beating our collective chests?