- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2350 (2017), by which the Council decided to close the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) by 15 October 2017; established the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) for an initial period of six months, from 16 October 2017; and, requested that I report to the Council on the implementation of the initial mandate of MINUJUSTH, 30 days before its expiration, setting out a well-developed and clearly benchmarked projected two-year exit strategy to a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence to continue supporting the efforts of the Government of Haiti in sustaining peace and peacebuilding. It covers major developments that have occurred since the issuance of my final report on MINUSTAH (S/2017/840).
II. Major developments
A. Political situation and related developments
Throughout his first year in office, the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, took steps towards implementing his reform agenda to foster sustainable development. The comfortable majority of the ruling political party, Parti haïtien tèt kale, and its allies in both chambers of Parliament should have been conducive to progress on the passage of key legislation; however, certain items that were on the 2017 legislati ve agenda that are directly relevant to the mandate of MINUJUSTH, such as the draft Criminal Code, the draft Code of Criminal Procedure and the draft law on legal aid, have yet to be reviewed by both chambers of Parliament.
The deadline of 10 November 2017 for the selection of nominees by the three branches of power for the long-awaited establishment of a Permanent Electoral Council was not met. However, during the reporting period, the special commission on constitutional amendments of the lower chamber continued to hold consultations with a broad cross section of national sectors, including the diaspora, and intends to complete the first draft of its report by 29 March.
During the reporting period, the Government of Haiti took further steps towards the reconstitution of the Armed Forces of Haiti. On 16 and 17 November 2017, two presidential orders were published establishing the structure of an interim command of the force and appointing former army Colonel, Jodel Lesage, interim Commanderin-Chief. On 13 March, President Moïse appointed six former army officers as the interim command, who will work on strengthening the military engineering corps and establishing and operationalizing both a military aviation and a medical corps. Addressing concerns over the lack of an agreed legislative framework for the process, President Moïse announced the inclusion of draft legislation on the re -establishment of the armed forces in the 2018 legislative agenda.
On 30 November, the Government announced the first disbursement of $8.78 million in compliance with the law on the formation, functioning and financing of political parties of 2014. On 22 January, the Government delivered payments to 4 of the 58 political parties deemed eligible. Opposition political parties rejected the financing, which they qualified as a form of corruption at a time of a backlog of salary arrears owed to civil servants.
Throughout the period, President Moïse emphasized the importance of strengthening the fight against corruption in his administration. Amid allegations of the embezzlement of approximately $320,000 in the Ministry of the Interior and Local Governance, an anti-fraud operation was conducted on 31 October 2017, leading to the arrest of the Administrator and the Chief Accountant of the Ministry. An investigation was opened into the contract for the electrification of a town in the North-East Department, and warrants were issued against two former Ministers on allegations of mishandling of public funds. The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training recovered some $1.1 million and the Haitian National Police recovered $700,000 in fraudulent pay cheques. On 5 and 8 December, respectively, civil society organizations and the Catholic Church held anti-corruption marches in Port-auPrince.
A draft report by the Senate special investigative commission into the management of the Petrocaribe fund, presented to the Senate for adoption on 10 November 2017, caused tension between parliamentarians, the Government and civil society. According to the report, between September 2008 and September 2016, the management of $1.57 billion of the Petrocaribe fund, which is generated by the Haitian State under a preferential oil price programme with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, was marked by possible acts of malfeasance. On 29 January a private citizen, represented by a lawyer, filed the first of eight cases at the court of first instance in Port-au-Prince against the management of the Petrocaribe fund. On 1 February, a majority Senate vote adopted a resolution requesting a thorough audit on the management of the Petrocaribe fund by the Superior Court of Audits and Administrative Disputes, thus transferring responsibility to this oversight body.
On 8 January, in his first annual state of the nation address at the opening of the first ordinary session of the 2018 legislative year, President Moïse stressed the need for self-reliance and outlined the following policy priorities: the adoption of a new joint legislative agenda to focus on laws stimulating investment; the strengthening and modernizing of the justice sector; the enhancing of social services; the completion of the 2017 legislative agenda; the establishment of key institutions, in particular, the Permanent Electoral Council and the Constitutional Council; the promotion of political dialogue with all key national sectors through the “États généraux sectoriels” initiative to determine and define a negotiated programme towards sustainable development over 25 years; and the review of the country’s development aid cooperation mechanism with the international community, aimed at shifting from external assistance to external investment.
On 1 January, President Moïse assumed the Chair of the Caribbean Community. On 26–27 February, Haiti hosted the 29th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Port-au-Prince. The Heads of Government agreed to create an intraregional task force to examine and suggest innovative regional solutions to combat the rise in crime and violence in the region.
President Moïse also announced the organization of an international conference on the strengthening of the mechanisms of resilience to the effects of climate change and the management of natural disasters in the Caribbean.