Haiti - Security : Haiti remains on the Black List (US report 2017)
In its report "2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report", the US Department of State indicates :
"Haiti remains a transit point for cocaine originating in South America and marijuana originating in Jamaica, en route to the United States and other markets. This traffic takes advantage of Haiti’s severely under-patrolled maritime borders, particularly on the northern and southern coasts. Haiti is not a significant producer of illicit drugs for export, although there is cultivation of cannabis for local consumption. Haiti’s primarily subsistence-level economy does not provide an environment conducive to high levels of domestic drug use.
The Haitian government continued to strengthen the Haitian National Police (PNH) and its counternarcotics unit (Bureau for the Fight Against Narcotics Trafficking, or BLTS) with additional manpower, and officials at the highest levels of government have repeatedly committed to fight drug trafficking. While drug and cash seizures were higher in 2016 than in previous years, the government has been unable to adequately secure borders to cut the flow of illegal drugs.
Principal land border crossings with the Dominican Republic are largely uncontrolled and the southern coastline remains virtually enforcement-free. The minimal interdiction capacity of the Haitian Coast Guard (HCG) creates a low-risk environment for drug traffickers to operate. While Haiti’s domestic law enforcement interdiction capacity has improved marginally, a largely ineffective judicial system continues to impede successful prosecution of drug traffickers.
The PNH’s counternarcotics unit, BLTS, remains the institution dedicated to interdicting drug traffic. Attrition decreased its manpower to 170 officers in 2016, but an additional 59 officers from the 26th promotion brought manpower to 229 officers in December 2016. After completing a basic two-month counternarcotics course given by BLTS trainers with U.S. assistance, the new officers will be assigned to BLTS units and outposts, including border crossings to the Dominican Republic at Malpasse and Terrier Rouge.
BLTS enhanced its interdiction capacities in 2016 by assigning officers to new outposts in Ouanaminthe on the border with the Dominican Republic, and Cap Haitien on the north coast, further expanding use of a 19-dog canine unit, and participating in U.S.-funded training in Colombia. BLTS assigned 15 officers to the HCG base in Les Cayes on the south coast, which now has a maritime interdiction capability that will increase operational capacity to deter drug trafficking along the southern coast. Delivery of two new vessels and related training took place in August, and the BLTS-HCG task force is now operational. A partially vetted unit was established and participated in sensitive operations led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Airport canine prefabricated buildings were installed in Haiti’s two international airports in Port-au-Prince and in Cap Haitien.
Reports of misconduct and participation in the drug trade by some PNH officers are investigated by the PNH’s Inspector General’s office. The PNH still faces challenges regulating its internal affairs, particularly in the south and in remote provinces. Between December 2015 and September 2016, a total of 20 officers were recommended for termination stemming from abandonment of post and corruption. The officers were removed from the PNH.
The HCG is the sole maritime enforcement agency in Haiti, responsible for securing maritime borders. Its effective strength of 160 officers will be complemented by an additional 60 officers from the PNH’s 26th promotion to bring overall strength to 220 officers. The HCG has operating bases in Cap Haitien, Killick (Port-au-Prince), and Les Cayes. The force has a total of 18 maritime vessels, but only five are currently operational, with seven of the remaining 13 vessels non-repairable due to age or past viable hull life limit. Maritime domain awareness and enforcement are daunting tasks for the HCG, considering Haiti’s 1,100 miles of coastline and seven international ports. Operational capacity remains low due to insufficient funding, management deficiencies, an inability to refuel, and unavailability of locally procured parts to maintain the vessels reliably. These issues have prevented the HCG from serving as an effective deterrent force to maritime drug trafficking.
Haiti maintains several core legal agreements in support of drug control goals and often cooperates effectively with the United States on illicit drug cases. A 1997 bilateral letter of agreement on Cooperation to Suppress Illicit Maritime Drug Traffic allows U.S. law enforcement agencies to enter Haitian territorial waters and airspace in pursuit of suspect vessels or aircraft, to board and search suspect vessels, to patrol Haitian airspace, and to carry members of the HCG as ship riders. Although there is no mutual legal assistance treaty between Haiti and the United States, the Haitian government has cooperated on many cases within the limits of Haitian law [...]
BLTS executed several successful operations in 2016 that resulted in the seizure of 3.52 metric tons (MT) of marijuana and 35 kilograms (kg) of cocaine. Ninety-seven suspects were arrested for alleged drug crimes and two were expelled to the United States for prosecution. A total of 370 kg of cocaine and 4 kg of heroin coming out of Haiti were seized by other international law enforcement agencies in joint operations with DEA and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). In addition, 1.1 MT of cocaine were seized by the USCG on a “go-fast” boat off of Haiti’s southern coast. DEA and the USCG routinely conduct joint operations with BLTS and provide assistance in operational planning and intelligence gathering. In 2016, the United States sponsored a number of BLTS officers to receive numerous trainings abroad and in Haiti. There is no significant availability or traffic of illegal synthetic drugs in Haiti.
As a matter of policy, the Haitian government does not encourage or facilitate illegal activity associated with drug trafficking, or the laundering of proceeds from illicit drug transactions. Government officials have expressed their desire to combat drug trafficking and its negative impacts.
The report concluded by saying "the continued institutional development of the PNH and the BLTS are positive trends that have helped to improve public security and have marginally increased Haiti’s ability to interdict drug trafficking. Continued strong cooperation between Haitian and U.S. law enforcement yielded major illicit drug seizures and enabled the apprehension of individuals indicted in U.S. jurisdictions and their return for trial in the United States. However, the dysfunctional Haitian judicial system drastically limits domestic prosecution of drug cases and thus reduces disincentives to drug-trafficking operations. Drug seizures still remain low, and Haiti’s minimal capacity to police its sea and land borders is a particular point of concern.
Continued engagement from the United States, particularly in support of BLTS operations and general PNH development, will help Haitian law enforcement to capitalize on marginal gains in drug interdiction capacity. However, the benefits of such gains will be limited if the judicial system fails to convict drug traffickers. Only the concurrent strengthening of the judiciary, law enforcement, and border security will enable Haiti to make real progress in fighting drug trafficking."