Originally: Haitian premier urges UN to send more French-speaking police

Prime Minister Gerard Latortue is in favour of increasing the number of MINUSTAH (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) personnel following a suggestion made by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The prime minister hopes, however, that the U.N. will deploy more policemen who come from French-speaking countries:

If MINUSTAH were to increase its personnel then we would rather have more policemen from CIVPOL. There are currently more soldiers than police. CIVPOL is what would need to be reinforced because the work that needs to be done is mainly police work rather than military work.

But there is a problem with CIVPOL too, because when they send a group of Jordanian policemen, another group of Spanish-speaking policemen and another group that speaks Arabic, this causes a problem. You can imagine, three different contingents of MINUSTAH are going to carry out an operation, and yet they do not speak the same language. So, you can see the problem this can cause. I would therefore like the Security Council to send more French-speaking people and people who are able to speak Creole on the mission. This is why I asked President Diouf to see how they could mobilize French-speaking policemen who will be able to communicate with the people.

Let us imagine that MINUSTAH soldiers are manning a checkpoint somewhere in the country. When a Haitian person hands an ID card to a Jordanian, for example, this soldier does not understand anything that is written on the card. If these soldiers have to issue orders to people, they simply cannot because they do not speak the people’s language. So, I believe that one of the United Nations’ problems is that once it has a formula, this formula is valid for the whole world. But it is not good this way. We should be able to set up MINUSTAH, a peacekeeping force, that is capable of adapting to the country’s reality. And one of the ways to do so is to send people who are able to speak the people’s language. This is basically the issue here.

First, they need to increase the number of police within CIVPOL. Second, they need to send more French-speaking police officers and third, there is a problem with the MINUSTAH command. Today, MINUSTAH has a dual command. The MINUSTAH military has a chief and CIVPOL has its own chief. But these two commands are not integrated. So, I believe that this has caused a lot of things to not work well.

I am asking our ambassador to the United Nations to draw the attention of the Security Council to the need to integrate both the MINUSTAH and CIVPOL commands for better effectiveness and to try to recruit French or Creole-speaking policemen to send to Haiti.