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Crime, stalled politics threaten Haiti

Sept. 19, 2008 at 6:04 PM

BRUSSELS, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The transnational criminal threat and ongoing political instability have stifled peace operations in Haiti, a report from the International Crisis Group says.

The report, released Thursday by the independent non-governmental organization, says that while the U.N. peacekeeping presence in Haiti has made some progress toward stabilizing the country, the transnational criminal networks, along with a non-functioning government and a destroyed infrastructure as a result of recent hurricanes, have crippled Haiti's chances for peace, the Crisis Group reported.

The report, titled "Reforming Haiti's Security Sector," says political leaders in Haiti's Legislature have been at an impasse over the selection of a new prime minister. The political turmoil, coupled with a violent drug trade operated by organized criminal factions, has brought the country to a dangerous standstill.

Officials say the free fall into complete instability could be avoided by increasing the training timeline for the Haitian National Police. The report says the police force not only needs to be trained faster, but also officers should undergo specialized training for skills in anti-kidnapping, riot control, counter-drug and intelligence gathering, among other skill sets.

"Haiti urgently needs a professional Haitian National Police as a prerequisite and bulwark if the new government is to move the country, with MINUSTAH (the U.N. peacekeeping operation) and donor help, toward stability," Markus Schultze-Kraft, Crisis Group Latin America program director, said in a statement.

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