PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday October 18, 2017 – The UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which comprises 1,275 police officers and 350 civilians, began its tour of duty on Monday dedicated to supporting the rule of law.
It replaced the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which ended its operations in the French-speaking Caribbean nation after 13 years. MINUSTAH had been aimed at bringing stability to a politically chaotic Haiti.
UN officials say MINUJUSTH, a much smaller successor mission that is going to assist the government on security issues, will consolidate the progress achieved by MINUSTAH, particularly by ensuring that the Haitian National Police can function independently.
It will also work on some major new projects in the area of the rule of law, such as combating impunity, strengthening the judiciary’s professionalism and independence and establishing a prison system that is compatible with the country’s needs and respects the rights of prisoners.
MINUJUSTH will also have to work closely on the ground with the United Nations country team, which from now on will be the actor in the forefront in dealing with the country’s other challenges, especially where the Secretary-General’s new approach to combating cholera is concerned.
“I am still convinced that Haiti will be able to seize the opportunity offered by this MINUJUSTH deployment to strengthen the political stability of recent years in order to pave the way toward a democratic, stable and prosperous future for all Haitians,” said UN humanitarian coordinator Mamadou Diallo.
The Guinean diplomat is temporarily leading MINUJUSTH ahead of a UN nomination of the permanent chief of mission.
“MINUJUSTH reflects the commitment of the United Nations to continue supporting the consolidation of peace and promotion of stability in Haiti,” said a statement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ office.
Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue hailed the advances made possible by the previous UN mission, MINUSTAH, while pointing to the negative consequences of the peacekeepers’ lengthy presence in Haiti.
“Strict rules must be set in order to favour zero tolerance,” he said, referring to sex crimes committed by the foreign soldiers against Haitian women and children. “The cholera issue cannot be kept quiet either.”
A cholera epidemic that began in October 2010 that has killed more than 10,000 Haitians was traced back to Nepalese soldiers working for MINUSTAH. The UN only apologized six years after the ongoing epidemic began, but has refused to take any responsibility for it.