PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- Calling them “the backbone” of Haiti, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday praised national police recruits and the efforts under way to strengthen the rule of law in the country, as he continued his visit to the Caribbean nation.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“As I am standing here before so many cadets and police officers, senior police officers, I feel as if I am seeing the brighter future of Haiti,” Ban said in remarks to the Police Academy and School in Port-au-Prince.
More than 1,000 cadets have graduated, including 100 women, Ban said, adding that “they give us hope that Haiti is moving in the right direction.”
The UN chief recalled that when he started in his position in 2007, Haiti was “full of chaotic situations” and the city of Cite-Soleil was “full of gangs and people weren’t able to walk around safely.”
With effective intervention from the UN Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSTAH), the Haitian National Police “were able to restore security,” he added.
Haiti hopes to have 15,000 police officers working by the end of 2016. MINUSTAH, meanwhile, is reconfiguring the Mission to significantly reduce its military footprint in the country.
“The Haitian state will have to show the people that it can enforce the law and demonstrate that in a democratic nation, no one – including political authorities and the police themselves – is above the law,” Ban said, having earlier in the day visited some of the country’s judicial institutions.
Also on Tuesday, Ban met with the presidents of the National Assembly and the Chamber of Deputies.
Earlier, he toured the “Sports for Hope Centre” with Haitian President Michel Martelly and the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.
A “welcome addition to the Haitian landscape,” Ban said the Centre will provide athletes with high-level training conditions, and enable National Federations to improve the level of elite sport in the country.
“Youth will have a place to acquire skills and self-confidence that will benefit themselves and their communities,” Ban said, noting that young people, as well as schools and communities are the key beneficiaries of the new structure.
The groundbreaking for the Centre was held in 2012. At the time, Haiti was still immersed in a major humanitarian crisis triggered by a massive quake that struck on 12 January 2010, killing at least 220,000 people and leaving 1.5 million others homeless.
After arriving in Haiti on Monday, Ban met with MINUSTAH staff, and laid a wreath in memory of the 102 UN staff killed in the earthquake.