- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2000

The Clinton administration has spent nearly $100 million since 1994 to reform Haiti's judicial system and police force, but it has gotten little for its money, the General Accounting Office (GAO) says in a new report.
Six years after 20,000 U.S. troops went to Haiti to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency and democracy to Haiti, Haiti's U.S.- trained national police are not carrying out "basic law enforcement" and are "largely ineffective," according to preliminary findings in a GAO report due to be released next month.
The judicial system, it says, "lacks independence from the executive branch … suffers from corruption," and serves "only a small segment of the population."
The findings, detailed in a House International Relations Committee hearing yesterday, also expresses concern that the police have become "politicized," since the September 1994 U.S. invasion.
The report lists more than $90 million in U.S. aid to Haiti to create a judicial system and police force that would establish the rule of law in the Caribbean nation.
More than $65 million went to recruit, train, organize and equip a new police force that would be untainted by the excesses of previous dictatorships.
The United States provided an additional $27 million to train magistrates and prosecutors.
The United States has spent an estimated $3 billion on Haiti since 1993, to fund the military intervention, restore democracy and repatriate Haitian refugees, and in aid.
The gist of the report is that initial improvements in both the judicial system and the police force have largely been nullified by a lack of political will in the Haitian government.
"The key factor affecting the lack of success of U.S. assistance has been the Haitian government's lack of commitment to addressing the major problems of its police and judicial institutions," Jess Ford, GAO associate director responsible for the report, told Congress yesterday.
The State Department, which has been responsible for delivering the bulk of U.S. aid to Haiti, echoed the GAO concerns.
"There are problems with our assistance to better the police and the judicial system," said a State Department official yesterday on the condition of anonymity. "We are concerned about the charges of the politicization of the police."
As with the GAO report, the State Department official said there is concern that Haiti removed Eucher Joseph, a man all sides considered credible, from his position as inspector general.
The GAO report says that 1,100 police were dismissed from the Haitian police force since 1995 as a result of Mr. Joseph's investigations into police misconduct. Mr. Joseph, who is now in a diplomatic post in Switzerland, has not been replaced.
"We see that as a political move," said the State Department official. "He was too vigorous in his inspections."
Haitian government officials attending the hearing declined comment on the report.
The hearing opened with a 10-minute video, taken on April 8, showing an angry mob breaking down the gate of an opposition political party's headquarters and setting the building on fire as police stood by and watched.
The International Relations Committee would not say where it had gotten the video, saying the source would be in danger.
Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican and chairman of the committee, narrated the film, pointing out police complacency. He said the May 21 elections showed that the Haitian National Police were a political instrument of Mr. Aristide's Fanmi (Family) Lavalas political party.
"U.S. judicial-reform efforts have foundered in a sea of Haitian government indifference," said Mr. Gilman. "The recent election process revealed how completely the Haitian national police have been politicized by the ruling Lavalas Family party."

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