U.N. approves force to help Haitian police
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November 28, 1997
The vote ensures a U.N. presence in Haiti through 1998
Web posted at: 6:37 p.m. EST (2337 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations Security Council
has approved a 300-member international police force to spend a year in Haiti training and assisting the new Haitian national police.
The force, which was requested by Haitian president Rene Preval, was approved six days before a U.N. peacekeeping force of 1,000 Canadian and Pakistani soldiers is to leave the island, putting security in the hands of the 2-year-old national police.
The U.N. police are expected to come from Argentina, Benin, Canada, France, India, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and the United States. While they will assist the police, they will not have the authority or the power that the peacekeeping troops had.
U.N. Special Representative Enrique Ter Horst has said he is confident that the Haitian police can fill the void left when the U.N. peacekeepers leave, but others are not so sure.
"The Haitian National police still needs help in dealing
with ruthless gangs, drug traffickers and political groups that seek to manipulate the police for their own ends," said U.S. deputy ambassador Peter Burleigh.
Haitian police 'unethical, abusive'
Some members of the national police force have been accused of killings and other abuses, underlining the need for some kind of international force that will both guide and restrain the police.
Canada's ambassador to the U.N., Richard Fowler, says the police must be held accountable for "unethical and abusive conduct."
Peacekeeping troops arrived in 1995 after a multi-national force of 22,000 troops overthrew a military junta that had deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.
Aristide was restored to office and the U.N. force became the primary security in Haiti, replacing paramilitary units loyal to the junta. The troops leaving next week are the last members of that peacekeeping force.
U.N. observers say democracy has been restored to Haiti and the brutal army has been abolished, but others note that there has been little economic improvement in the life of the average Haitian.
They also point out that it lacks a government and a judicial system that function effectively. Former Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned in June, and he and his cabinet have yet to be replaced.
The U.N. police will be given the name MIPONUH, the French acronym for U.N. police mission in Haiti. Its mandate expires on November 30, 1998.
U.S. to contribute $100 million
Included in the force is a special 90-member unit that diplomats says is a "SWAT" or emergency team. It is designed to rescue other U.N. police in case of trouble.
If they, too, are endangered, the United States has promised
to evacuate the international police.
Fowler said Canada would contribute six armored personnel carriers for the emergency team as well as 24 police officers. In addition, Canada has contributed 22 police experts in a bilateral agreement that is outside the U.N. structure.
Burleigh said the United States would provide up to 50 police, helicopters and a medical unit in addition to $100 million in assistance.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report that
Argentina has offered to contribute a special police unit to provide briefings on international humanitarian law and peacekeeping principles.
Reuters contributed to this report.