Media Center



February 19, 2004 - Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman:

• On February 13, Secretary of State Colin Powell, joined by the Foreign Ministers of the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Canada and the Secretary General of the OAS, stated to the press: “We, of course are very concerned about the situation in Haiti. We all have a commitment to the democratic process in Haiti and we will accept no outcome that is not consistent with the constitution. We will accept no outcome that, in any way, illegally attempts to remove the elected President of Haiti.”

• With this in mind, the resolution just passed has many of the right ingredients: it calls for an immediate end to the violence racking Haiti, supports the Caribbean Community’s plan, enjoins the Government of Haiti to comply fully with the plan and with OAS resolutions, supports constitutional order, and addresses the humanitarian assistance issue.

• We commend the Caribbean Community for coming forward to propose a solution to Haiti’s political crisis. The CARICOM Plan represents the best hope for a way forward. But we must be clear that while the international community may be able to help create an appropriate atmosphere for improvement, it is up to the Haitian people to find their own peaceful, negotiated, democratic, and constitutional resolution to their problems.

• Mr. Chairman, our hearts go out to the people of Haiti who are plunged into violence and turmoil so soon after the celebration of their bicentennial of freedom.

• However, we believe that the deterioration of governability in Haiti is attributable in great part to the failure of the Government of Haiti to live up to its commitments. In this regard, I quote from the February 13 joint statement on Haiti, issued by the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Canada, and the United States and the Secretary General of the OAS:

“We urge the Government of Haiti to implement the actions to which it has committed itself under OAS Resolutions 806, 822 and 1959, and as reiterated by its adherence to the current initiative begun by the Caribbean Community. Only through urgent implementation of the confidence-building measures outlined in these documents can consensus be built to allow a resolution of Haiti’s political crisis, in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

• Now to look at the “commitments” record, let us examine the Haitian Government’s compliance with Resolution 822.

1. Commitments: Complete a thorough, independent inquiry into the events of December 17, 2001; prosecution and dismissal, when appropriate, of any person found complicit in the events;

Compliance: This has not been done.

2. Commitment: Strengthen disarmament policies; develop and implement a comprehensive disarmament program with the help of the Special Mission.

Compliance: Government of Haiti efforts consisted of ineffective public relations measures. Furthermore, the Government of Haiti must take steps to prevent arms -- including from government sources -- from reaching gangs. Gangs have essentially also taken over authority from police in many places, including Port-au-Prince.

3. Commitment: Implement all recommendations on human rights and the press set forth in OAS Commission of Inquiry Report into Events of December 17, 2001.

Compliance: The Government of Haiti has made little effort to comply with Report recommendations; human rights abuses and press intimidation have escalated.

4. Commitment: Restore a climate of security.

Compliance: The security situation is far worse than it was when the OAS adopted Resolution 822, due the use of gangs and the politicization and corruption of the Haitian National Police (HNP). Additionally we have seen the repression of student demonstrations in December 2003 and pre-emptive repression in Cap Haitien, Jacmel, and other cities. It is clear that attacks by armed groups in February 2004 and inability of HNP to respond effectively, are due to corruption and politicization of the HNP.

5. Commitment: Prosecute persons involved in the December 17, 2001 violence.

Compliance: This has not been done.

6. Commitment: Complete thorough inquiry into politically motivated crimes.

Compliance: Investigations have been conducted, but nothing more has been done.

7. Commitment: Combat impunity and strengthen policing and judicial institutions with a view toward establishing a climate of security for elections in 2003.

Compliance: Impunity continues to be a serious deficiency of the judicial system. There is credible evidence of Haitian National Police (HNP) corruption, involvement in criminal activity, narco-trafficking, and complicity in the violent suppression of political dissent. The Government of Haiti failed to appoint independent, professional leadership for the HNP.

8. Commitment: Form an independent, autonomous, neutral Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) by November 4, 2002.

Compliance: The CEP was not formed. The Government of Haiti’s failure to restore a climate of security, escalating political violence and intimidation, fueled opposition mistrust.

• Similarly, the CARICOM Prior Action Plan contains commitments that the Government of Haiti must carry out, now we must see if they are implemented. They include:

Commitment: Protect the Freedom of assembly as right upheld in the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society and the Haitian Constitution.

Commitment: Release political activists arbitrarily detained and those benefiting from judicial release orders.

Commitment: Disarm gangs.

• The record so far regarding commitments under OAS resolutions, and commitments that are in the CARICOM Prior Action Plan, is very poor. Clearly, there is a huge gap between what the Government of Haiti promises, and what it implements.

• Only Haitians can resolve Haitian problems in the end. That is why, as well, our resolution calls in operative paragraph 5 “on the democratic political opposition and civil society to act responsibly, denounce the use of violence, and fulfill their responsibilities and engage in the democratic process in accordance with the CARICOM proposal.”

• In sum, Mr. Chairman, the situation in Haiti is due in large part to the failure of the Government of Haiti to act in a timely manner to address problems that it knew were brewing. To do this requires political will and leadership. But additionally, and importantly, we must emphasize that assumption of power through a democratic process does not give a government license to behave in an undemocratic, irresponsible fashion.

• It is our hope that today’s resolution will send a message of concern for the Haitian people, optimism for the CARICOM Plan, and heightened expectations for the Haitian Government to act responsibly and in a democratic manner.

• Thank you, Mr. Chairman.