History of Haiti National Police

The Haitian National Police, founded in 1995 and the official law enforcement agency of Haiti, also acts as the country's military force. Half a dozen countries, including the U.S, have trained nearly 9,000 police officers in current law enforcement methods. Training includes crowd management, firearms use, and dignitary protection.


When dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled, Haiti's police force was an arm of the Haitian army, 14,000 recruitments strong. In 1987, Haiti amended its Constitution and mandated Haitian police were to act as peacekeepers, law enforcers, protectors, and arresters of lawbreakers. Problems preventing the police from fulfilling these duties were a mixture of military bullying, internal warfare, and lack of civilian oversight. The 1987 Constitution suggested an independent police force be created as part of the Ministry of Justice. But this reform has never happened.

Since Duvalier's rule ended in 1986, the Haitian police, then still part of the military, has had a record of attacking political dissenters, torturing detainees, and abusing prison inmates. The height of this violence, occurring during 1986-1989, included incidents of funeral pyres and strewn body parts in the streets.

During the early 2000s, a provisional government attempted to train officers to handle tensions between security and human rights' agendas. But the main problem that has dogged the Haitian National Police from carrying out its duties is the disgruntled ex-military leaders, who continue to dominate the police from within. These power-hungry troublemakers are urging the government to re-form the Haitian army with the police force once again subject to its strictures.

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