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Canada, US and allies focus on policing in discussion on Haiti’s future

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OTTAWA — Strengthening Haiti’s beleaguered police emerged as a key theme Friday as Canada, the United States and several other allies held talks to help the beleaguered and poverty-ridden Caribbean nation.

OTTAWA — Strengthening Haiti’s beleaguered police emerged as a key theme Friday as Canada, the United States and several other allies held talks to help the beleaguered and poverty-ridden Caribbean nation.

Canada has pledged $15 million to the National Police Academy of Haiti to provide “support for professional and inclusive policing” as part of a new, broader $50 spending program. million dollars announced by the Minister for International Development, Harjit Sajjan.

“These projects are aimed at increasing the participation of women in the police and increasing integrity. Because we all know that when women are involved, it improves peace and security,” Sajjan said at the start of the meeting in line.

It has brought together more than two dozen countries and organizations from around the world to find solutions to ongoing conflicts in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti has been rocked by unrest since the summer when President Jovenel Moïse was killed in a shooting at his home that also injured his wife.

Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for the U.S. Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said the United States, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan are also supporting efforts to help the Haitian National Police. .

He said the United States also recently announced its own additional funding of US$15 million for Haitian law enforcement, which includes increasing the contingent of US subject matter experts from nine to 16.

“We are training the Haiti National Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team. We are supporting community policing, corrections and border security units. We have delivered 60 new vehicles and hundreds of equipment personal protective equipment that we had previously promised,” Nichols said after the meeting.

A written statement from Global Affairs Canada after the meeting said: “In order to combat insecurity, the partners have agreed to strengthen their current and future support to the security sector, including the Haitian National Police, by emphasizing respect for the rule of law. , justice and human rights.

Nichols said the three-hour discussion saw participants from European and Asian countries, as well as “those from our own hemisphere” come together to express the “universal sense that we need to redouble our efforts to support the people of Haiti.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly stressed the importance of strengthening the Haitian police in the face of rising violence and corruption.

“In order to meet Haiti’s humanitarian needs, we must also deal with the difficult security situation. The increase in violence only worsens the already precarious humanitarian situation,” Trudeau said.

“Clashes between armed gangs are worsening an already precarious humanitarian situation,” added Joly. “They make it more difficult to get aid to the most vulnerable populations.”

Joly hosted what was a ministerial-level meeting that included his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

Alongside Trudeau, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry also spoke at the virtual summit.

“What was discussed was the importance of Haitian political actors from all walks of life coming together to forge a unified vision for the way forward,” Nichols said.

“This point has been repeated many times by Ministers. And Prime Minister Henry himself has declared his commitment to do so and has noted that he will redouble his efforts in this regard.”

Nichols said attendees came out of the meeting “pretty focused on making sure we understand the vision of the Haitian people and where the aid needs to go.”

In her opening remarks, Sajjan said Canada had put in place its latest aid program based on the country’s feminist international assistance policy.

“These projects will support security, health, economic growth and humanitarian assistance for the people of Haiti,” Sajjan added.

The new spending will include $12 million for humanitarian services and food security for people still feeling the effects of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last August, a month after the country was rocked by the assassination of its president.

Joly convened the online summit while she was in the middle of a three-country European trip to talk with leaders there about beefing up the Russian military on the Ukrainian border.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said Los Angeles would host the Summit of the Americas in June, where leaders from the two continents and the Caribbean meet every three years to discuss common priorities.

The causes – and potential solutions – of irregular migration will be high on the agenda.

Migrants from Haiti and a number of Central American countries regularly move north, putting pressure on the US southern border and creating widespread instability in the Western Hemisphere.

Friday’s summit included representatives from the United Nations, the Caribbean Community or CARICOM, the International Organization of La Francophonie and the Organization of American States.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 21, 2022.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press