A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the question concerning Haiti. On the screen is UNODC Executive Director Ghada Fathi Waly.
Adapted from UN News.
New York, 26 April 2023 - The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, briefed the UN Security Council on 26 April and detailed the alarming escalation of violence and scale of organized criminal activity in Haiti.
Ms. Waly spoke following the remarks by the newly appointed UN Special Representative for Haiti, Maria Isabel Salvador. Ms. Salvador stated that the swift expansion of gang violence – together with an increase in crime and human rights abuses and an ill-equipped police force – has created a rapidly deteriorating security situation. The Haitian people “deserve your urgent action,” she continued, warning that further delay could lead to a spill-over in the region.
The flows of illicit firearms and drugs into Haiti are compounding the country’s insecurity and violence, said Ms. Waly of UNODC in her remarks.
A UNODC assessment, published last month, revealed that increasingly sophisticated and high-calibre firearms and ammunition are being trafficked by land, air and sea, into a country with limited maritime control and a lack of border surveillance.
“Heavily armed criminal gangs are targeting critical infrastructure such as ports, grain storage, customs offices, police stations, court houses, prisons, businesses and neighbourhoods. They have also gained control of major highways and roads providing access to the capital,” she said.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s law enforcement and border control challenges make it an attractive hub for drug traffickers shipping mainly cocaine and cannabis to North America and Western Europe.
“The international community and invested partners need to urgently develop and support large-scale comprehensive actions to assist law enforcement and border management, to prevent illicit flows and help stabilize the situation,” she said.
Ms. Waly noted that the Council has repeatedly stressed the importance of building up the capacity of the Haitian National Police, including its specialized units on borders, drugs and firearms.
She also underlined the need for greater investment in community policing and criminal justice reform to combat corruption and money-laundering.
“Black markets are relying on corruption and patronage networks to thrive, with a complex web of public and private actors implicated in trafficking, while corruption in the criminal justice sector leads to impunity,” she said.
“The conditions for a political process leading to peace can only be achieved when Haiti has the institutions and capacities capable of meeting these challenges.”
In light of these threats, Ms. Waly announced, UNODC has been fast-tracking its assistance on border management. UNODC has assessed six border points, identifying urgent equipment needs, including to support patrolling and maritime domain awareness. UNODC is now working to procure the equipment to be provided to national authorities.
Additionally, UNODC has continued its support to Haiti’s General Customs Administration, as well as co-operating with the Organization of American States to strengthen Haiti’s capacity to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases of corruption, money laundering and economic crimes, as well as to improve information sharing with international investigators on transnational organized crime.
However, Ms. Waly again stressed that sustained, comprehensive assistance is needed, complementing any operational support provided to Haiti’s police with a long-term vision to restore criminal justice, border control and customs institutions.
“It is through these fundamentals that we can protect Haiti’s people from violence in the long-term, return normalcy and security to their daily lives, and pave the way for more effective efforts to meet basic human needs.”