Haitian police recruits receive high-level training from Colombian security forces
By Dialogo December 09, 2013
Colombian security forces are training 10 Haitian women police officers, who will return to their country after graduating as law enforcement professionals.
Colombian National Police have been training the Haitian officers since January 2013 at the Sumapaz School of the National Police, in the Colombian town of Fusagasugá. The Haitian officers have participated in courses on how to patrol and the best ways to divert children and teenagers from joining gangs and discourage them from using or selling drugs.
The training was scheduled to be completed in early December 2103.
The training program was launched thanks to international cooperation. In 2012, Colombia signed a bilateral agreement with Haiti to help train and professionalize Haitian police officers. The strategic alliance had the support of the Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince. The goal of the partnership is to train 200 female officers for the Haitian police by 2016.
“This first contingent of trained women is very beneficial for Haiti. The police officers will help with the formation and professionalization of the HNP (Haitian National Police) with a gender perspective to gain new insights into security operations against crime and organized crime,” said Armando Rodríguez Luna, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Women officers are playing an increasing important role in law enforcement in Latin America and the Caribbean, said Colombian Deputy Foreign Minister Patti Londoño. The training provided to the young women officers is “a fundamental contribution made by the country to advance in incorporating a gender perspective in support missions for peacekeeping, prevention, management and conflict resolution”, Londoño said.
During a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry on Nov. 13, 2013, Londoño recognized each of the young Haitian officers for participating in the training. The deputy Foreign Minister wished the young officers “much success in developing their work upon returning to Haiti”.
The training provided by the Colombian National Police will help the young Haitian police agents innovate and lead when they return to their home country, Colombian authorities said. The more professional a police force is, the more effective it will be in gaining the trust of the community, officials said.
Grateful for training opportunity
The Haitian officers expressed gratitude for the training opportunity. students expressed their gratitude for the training received in Colombia. Some of the women agents were enrolled in college and left their schools to train under Colombian National Police Col. Yacqueline Navarro.
“After all this time in Colombia, we will be ready to work for the progress of our country,” said Haitian police agent Judith German, 23, told EFE News.
German learned about the training program while she was in college, studying for a nursing degree. German left school and joined the police training program. German wants to specialize in forensic sciences with the Haitian National Police.
The directors of the police school organized the Haitian students into two-person teams. The Haitian trainees were put together with Colombian police recruits so the Haitians could improve their Spanish.
The Haitian women were trained in target practice and also received specialized training in how to deal with children and teenagers.
The Haitians will return to their country to use the tactics they learned during the training course, Navarro said. The Haitians will return to the Caribbean country before Christmas 2013. ‘
The 10 trainees will receive additional training about the laws of Haiti before working as HNP agents, authorities said.
The inclusion of women among Haitian security forces is a fundamental element in promoting and consolidating democracy in Haiti, according to a report from the Latin American Security and Defense Network (RESDAL) that was released in May 2013.
As HNP agents, the women recruits will fight organized crime enterprises, such as drug trafficking, domestic violence, and robbery and theft.
Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has become an important transit route for cocaine shipments through the Caribbean in recent years. Drug traffickers use the more than 1,700 kilometers of Haitian coast as a strategic point for drug transport.
Fighting drug trafficking
Haiti and other countries in the region should work together to fight transnational drug trafficking, said Rodriguez Luna, the security analyst.
“It is essential that the Haitian government with the help of international partners regain control of the territory and coastal areas to prevent drug trafficking into Europe and West Africa,” Rodríguez Luna said.
Haiti has 10,000 police officers of which 9.25% are women. The Haitian government’s goal is to have 15,000 officers by 2016. The country has a population of 10 million people.
Training new pólice agents
As part of the Haitian National Police Development Plan, the United Nations Police (UNPOL) and security forces from Chile, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and France helped train more than, 1,100 Haitian law enforcement officers in 2012.
The HNP has a fleet of 726 vehicles, 653 motorcycles, and five maritime vessels to patrol the coast, according to a RESDAL report.
The HNP was established in 1995.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was launched in 2004 after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. MINUSTAH , increased its presence after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people in January 2010.
The Mission works to strengthen the institutions in Haiti, as well as promote and protect human rights in the country.
In October 2013, the U.N. Security Council reported that MINUSTAH would eventually reduce its contingent of military personnel from 6,233 to 5,021, and police officers from 2,457 to 2,601. Peacekeeping forces will reduce their presence when conditions permit, the UN reported.
The mission is in its Plan for Consolidation phase, which includes its gradual withdrawal from Haiti by 2016, with the option to replace the mission with smaller aid groups.
The training received by the women HNP recruits in Colombia will help improve the department’s professionalization, according to Rodríguez Luna. “The professionalism and strategy that the new officers learned in Colombia, a country that has been recognized for developing a national police force with special needs for combating organized crime groups, is an advantage for the HNP,” the security analyst said.
The HNP has taken great strides forward, a high-ranking HNP official said.
“We have made great progress, but there is still a lot to do,” said Michel-Angel Gideono,” chief of the West Department of the HNP.