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CARICOM Secretary-General addresses Haiti crisis at meeting of international partners

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Posted: Saturday, January 22, 2022. 5:28 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett, has told an official ministerial meeting of the International Partners of Haiti (IPH) that unless the country sees long-term development plans and particularly social and economic development to go along with the rebuilding of its governmental and enforcement institutions, it will not know peace.

Dr. Barnett was addressing the meeting led by Foreign Minister of Canada Melanie Joly, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, and other Foreign Ministers and Representatives of the international partners of Haiti and representatives of international institutions.

Even before last year’s triple-whammy of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, an earthquake and tropical storm that caused severe infrastructural damage and death, Haiti labored in an atmosphere of doubt and mistrust in its government. Even as the country celebrated independence from France on New Year’s Day, Dr. Henry and members of his government were placed under attack during official ceremonies.

Dr Barnett explained, “The Caribbean Community is of the view that the international community in its efforts to assist Haiti needs to go beyond strengthening the police and the judiciary. In addition, the hollowed-out state and public administration need to be strengthened so that they are in a position to provide the public goods expected of the state, and without which it will enjoy neither the trust of its people nor legitimacy.

Dr. Barnett said ongoing dialogue to establish a “Haitian solution” to the crisis should be respected by the international community ahead of a planned referendum on February 7, 2022 on Constitutional changes, but allowed that much-needed reform is welcome to reverse “institutional collapse” caused by a dysfunctional executive, legislature and judiciary leaving elections as the sole solution to fill the void constitutionally and legally.

CARICOM will require, she said, Haiti to hold elections at the earliest possible time to restore the integrity and legitimacy of the dysfunctional institutions and the continuity of the state and offered its support: “This is an area where the Community has assisted in the past and is ready to do so again. These issues need to be addressed in order to ensure enabling conditions without which there can be no transparent, inclusive, and secure free and fair elections. This includes: curbing insecurity, eliminating voter disenfranchisement and enhancing transparency, impartiality and popular confidence.”

The IPH has promised particular assistance in the area of security and capacity of the Haitian National Police, including equipment, materiel, logistics and infrastructure and CARICOM has offered such training and capacity building through current and planned initiatives of its Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS). Individual member states such as The Bahamas are also in a position to provide training as has been done in the past, Dr. Barnett stated.

CARICOM, she said, also looks forward to Haiti involving itself more deeply in and benefitting from the functional cooperation as well as the trade and economic workings of the Community.

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