Cablegate: Haiti: Farrar-Charles Discussions On April 27 Shootings and State of the Hnp

Published: Fri 6 May 2005 07:44 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: PAP 1241
1. (C) Summary: HNP Director General Charles told visiting INL PDAS Farrar that the April 27 shootings came in response to violence in the wake of an unauthorized pro-Lavalas demonstration, and he said he has ordered an investigation into the incident. Charles acknowledged that the HNP lacks sufficient training and resources to do its job. He also complained about a continuing lack of cooperation from MINUSTAH. The DG confirmed that ex-FADH enrollment in the current recruit class would be strictly limited to 200 and there would be no "special status" for any person or class of persons in future recruitment efforts. End Summary.
April 27 shooting incident
2. (C) In an April 29 meeting with visiting INL Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Farrar and Embassy police advisor, DG Leon Charles recounted his version of the events of April 27. Charles said the violence occurred on the margins of a spontaneous Lavalas demonstration that started from the Bel Air neighborhood, but Charles said it could not be determined if the assailants were part of the protest march. (Note this conflicts with CIVPOL commissioner Beer's assertion in reftel that there was no demonstration. End note) According to Charles, the unauthorized march left Bel Air around 11:00 a.m. and circled around the Presidential Palace before returning back to the Bel Air area and then proceeding on Delmas toward Bourdon (and the area around UNDP/MINUSTAH headquarters). (Note: Pro Lavalas supporters previously held several marches following a similar route. The government and the HNP had approved the previous activity but did not authorize a permit for the April 28 demonstration. End note). As the march neared Bourdon, hundreds of people crowded the streets and brought vehicular traffic to a standstill. Several women reported purse and jewelry snatches along the demonstration route, and Charles described marauding street thugs attacking and robbing bystanders and damaging vehicles stalled in traffic. Police, monitoring the demonstration, heard several shots and witnessed a group of ten young men running in Bourdon near MINUSTAH Headquarters. The police gave chase and opened fire on the fleeing suspects. Several of the suspects were apprehended and two were shot and killed by the pursuing HNP units. Three other suspects were also shot and killed by the HNP, but it was not yet clear if they came from the same group that the police initially encountered. One 9mm pistol was recovered by the HNP not far from the deceased suspects. MINUSTAH forces were not involved in the shooting incident. DG Charles said he had ordered an investigation into the events leading up to the shootings.
HNP not trained, MINUSTAH support poor
3. (C) In response to DAS Farrar's query if HNP officers were sufficiently trained and equipped to effectively handle such incidents, Charles voiced his continued frustration at what he termed the lack of MINUSTAH support. He cited as an example poor coordination and cooperation between the HNP and MINUSTAH during an armed confrontation with gang members in Cite Soleil within the last 2 weeks. MINUSTAH commanders insisted that the HNP take the lead in entering and securing predetermined areas within Cite Soleil, knowing the HNP did not possess sufficient weapons or armored vehicles to properly perform the task. Charles stated that this approach had become "standard practice" and often resulted in the HNP overreacting and prematurely resorting to the use of deadly force. He cited several additional examples where, though MINUSTAH forces were better equipped and trained, MINUSTAH had insisted that the HNP be the first responder and the first to draw fire. He acknowledged that both CIMO (Crowd Control Police) and SWAT units needed more tactical training, better protective equipment, and access to less lethal weaponry.
4. (C) Embassy police advisor suggested that one solution would be to have CIVPOL work directly with CIMO/SWAT. Formed Police Unit (FPU) officers and specially trained CIVPOL officers would join in the planning, staging, and execution of high-risk incidents and potentially destabilizing demonstrations. This would improve command and control responsibilities, accountability, training, and access to non-lethal weapons and armored vehicles. The DG agreed with the suggestion and encouraged USG assistance in establishing a format for future discussions with CivPol Commissioner Beer (reftel reports similar positive reaction from Commissioner Beer to this proposal).
Police recruiting
5. (C) DAS Farrar cited continuing USG commitment in support of HNP recruiting efforts and the importance of maintaining high recruitment standards. In addition to vetting all recruits, Farrar emphasized it was equally important to attract and retain capable and trustworthy young men and women. The USG was concerned that inclusion of ex-FADH in large numbers would detract from ongoing police reform measures; they therefore had to be closely scrutinized. Based on discussions with the Embassy police advisor and other professionals in the field, he said that the USG would not support more than 200 former military being included in Promotion 17 (note: the next recruiting class scheduled to start in May). Moreover, the practice of allowing a class of people to receive special quotas for class enrollment (as had happened with the ex-FADH) had to end. DG Charles agreed and stated that the practice would end immediately. Future recruitment drives would make no distinction with regard to the former military, but would also not discriminate against anyone for previous duty in the Haitian Armed Forces.
U.S. Weapons License Request
6. (C) Charles also inquired about the status of the weapons licensing waiver. He referred to a recent gun battle in Cite Soleil where well-armed gangs fired upon the HNP and MINUSTAH for 2 hours, and lamented the lack of ammunition for training and reserve supplies. The gangs had more automatic weapons and ammunition than the HNP, he said. The HNP could not train its members or defend Haiti without ammunition and modern tactical weapons.
7. (C) DAS Farrar explained the waiver process including Congressional notification by the Department of State. He told DG Charles that Congress was properly demanding that the HNP arms license, if granted, be tied to USG oversight. Training, strict accountability and inventory control, reporting requirements, vetting, and more frequent inspections of the weapons in the field would be required. Charles pledged his full cooperation with the USG in achieving these standards and was hopeful that the process would soon be completed.
8. (C) April 27 was the fourth occasion since February where the HNP used deadly force. Despite repeated requests, we have yet to see any objective written reports from the HNP that sufficiently articulate the grounds for using deadly force. Equally disturbing are HNP first-hand reports from the scene of these events. These are often confusing and irrational and fail to meet minimum police reporting requirements. The HNP continues to suffer from corruption among its ranks, a broken system of justice, substandard command and supervisory control, inadequate levels of training, and scant equipment resources. Post will follow up on DAS Farrar's discussions with DG Charles and Commissioner Beer to get CIVPOL out in the field with HNP officers and to have CIVPOL work directly with CIMO. In Port-au-Prince, there are no joint patrols, objective monitoring and reporting at the scene of major incidents, joint training exercises, or mentoring among command level officials.
9. (C) MINUSTAH/CIVPOL/HNP cooperation is more advanced in the Cap Haitien area; lessons learned from there must be transferred to the more difficult and dangerous environment of Port-au-Prince. The HNP and MINUSTAH are at a crossroads. New training programs are underway and this is positive, but the training and lessons learned must be immediately implemented and monitored for compliance in the field. Mid-term course corrections are required and must be supported at the highest levels within the IGOH and MINUSTAH.
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