Police Academy Remains Unbuilt
Three years, $18M later Haiti’s police academy remains unbuilt
Postmedia News – By Lee Berthiaume – October 12, 201
Three years after Canada pledged $18 million to build a national police academy in Haiti, not a single brick has been laid.
This is despite assertions from the International Crisis Group think-tank and others that a strong police force is essential to the Caribbean nation’s development, particularly after the January 2010 earthquake.
“It’s certainly a disappointment,” said Timothy Donais, an expert on Haiti at Wilfrid Laurier University. “The fact is police training is an area where Canada was supposed to be taking a lead among donor countries.”
The national police academy project was announced initially in October 2008 as part of a five-year, $555 million Canadian commitment to help Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest country, following decades of authoritarian rule.
Canadian government documents say the project is to be located on a 15-hectare plot of land near the city of Ganthier, about 30 kilometres west of the capital Port-au-Prince.
The academy is to accommodate about 300 students between the ages of 25 and 45, with 70% being men and 30% women.
There will be about 20 buildings, which vary from one to four storeys and will include sports and training facilities.
Donais said the Haitian national police force is shaped like a barbell, with a large number of personnel at the very top and bottom of the chain of command, but few mid-level officers. The academy was to train these middle ranks so they could provide more on-the-ground leadership.
However, the Canadian International Development Agency did not report any progress on the project before a devastating earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010, killing as many as 300,000 people and damaging infrastructure across Haiti, including police buildings.
Rather, during a trip to the country in April 2010, three months after the disaster, CIDA Minister Bev Oda re-announced the project.
“I am proud that Canada is responding to Haiti’s immediate needs, as well as helping to build the future of a new Haiti through the construction of a new hospital and police academy,” Oda said at the time.
Then, only last week, the government issued a fresh request for proposals on the project through the Canadian Com-mercial Corporation, which said it was helping CIDA with the contract.
Oda’s office did not respond to questions by press time. The minister is in Haiti this week meeting government officials and reviewing Canadian aid projects.
In an email, a spokesman in her office said the government received a number of bids in response to the initial request for proposals, none of which met the necessary requirements. That is why the Canadian Commercial Corporation has relaunched the process.
“The government is committed to the construction of the Haitian National Police Academy,” Justin Broekema said. “The construction of the police academy is expected to begin in the spring of 2012.”
Last month, the International Crisis Group, a respected thinktank known for its in-depth analysis and work in fragile countries, issued a report highlighting the need for a strong, professional Haitian police force. ICG also noted the lack of progress on the Canadian-funded national police academy.
“Since 2008, Canada has approved $20 million to assist construction at a site in Ganthier, a commune north of Port-au-Prince,” the report says, “but the project was slow to start, then further delayed by the earthquake.”
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Haiti leader determined to revived disbanded army
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitiian President Michel Martelly says he’s determined to move forward with a controversial plan to bring back the army to the Caribbean nation.
The leader says he will rebuild the force even if he doesn’t have the support of others. Martelly says the army will be a modern force that doesn’t hatch coups, but instead responds to natural disasters and guards the border and seas.
The government’s plans to restore the military came to light two weeks ago after The Associated Press obtained a document that outlined the force’s objectives.
The plan comes with controversy because the military was once used as a tool for abuse and coups before it was disbanded in 1995.
Martelly made the remarks to reporters Thursday.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
posted 14 Oct.2011 here