The head of government intends to denounce the agreement he co-signed with the United Nations for the professionalization of the national police.
The prime minister, who was responding to critics concerning the unconstitutionality of the document, recognizes that two clauses of the concerned agreement run counter to provisions in the constitution and the national police organic law.
The prime minister argues that the agreement in question is not in effect because it has not received the blessing of the council of ministers or the Haitian parliament. He explains that these two specific clauses limit the government’s right to have bilateral cooperation agreements with foreign countries as well as the right of the Haitian police to dismiss officers who are condemned by the law.
He specifies that this agreement on the professionalization of the national police, according to him, essentially aims at improving the living conditions of police officers. Prime Minister Latortue answers questions of Rotchild Francois Jr as follows:
Actually, it is a draft agreement that has no legal value since it has not been ratified by the Haitian government or the Haitian parliament. The thing is that, when I was in New York, by the way, this agreement had a lot of pages and this might be the reason why I did not spot this issue then.
But later I began to question the agreement. I then called the director general of the police and we talked about it. Actually, I sincerely believed that the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti had first discussed the issue with the national police.
It was after I returned from the cooperation committee meeting that I contacted the director general of the police who then said that the MINUSTAH chief never discussed this with him and that it was a foreigner who gave him a copy of the text. Since then I realized that something was wrong. Actually, I have already written a letter that I am going to send to Valdes to tell him that there are two clauses in the text that are unacceptable because one of them goes against the internal law of the Haitian National Police while the other clause goes against the Haitian constitution in matters concerning our national sovereignty.
I make it clear that this agreement is on hold. Besides, it has no value as long as it is not ratified by the parliament or the Council of Ministers in the absence of a parliament.
Francois: What exactly is the nature of this agreement? And what are the controversial clauses that you think should not be included in the agreement?
Latortue: It is rather an application of the decision made by the UN Security Council on the professionalization of the national police. It has a lot of good points in it that we agree upon, but there are two major issues that we disagree with. In one of the clauses, they limited the Haitian government’s right to sign bilateral agreements with other foreign governments.
The other clause concerns the national police whose rights the MINUSTAH agreement has limited. Whereas, if we decide to sign an agreement with another country it is to make up for MINUSTAH’s inadequacy. We therefore cannot subordinate our right to the MINUSTAH agreement. As I said, I only realized what these clauses were about later on and discovered that they are not in agreement with the constitution, the sovereignty of a free state.
As far as the organic law of the PNH is concerned, there are decisions that should be made when they need to dismiss officers, and MINUSTAH cannot be allowed to make these decisions unilaterally.
They were trying to use this text to remove all the rights of the PNH whereas the professionalization of the police does not mean that the police have to be put under trusteeship. This is an important issue that I wish to emphasize. There might be some people in MINUSTAH who understand it this way but, as far as we are concerned, this is not what it means.
As I said upon my return from New York, I was mainly interested in the professionalization of the police, training the police, and changing the living conditions of police officers. What I want is to enable them to meet their financial needs and provide for their families. Therefore, from my point of view, it is necessary to consider the living conditions of police officers as well as the needs of the institution. All this should be part of this agreement to facilitate the tasks of the national police.