Study: Homicides Rising in Haiti, Confidence in Police Slipping

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A recent survey of 3,000 people in Haiti shows a dramatic rise in homicides in the past four months and declining confidence in the police, as instability worsens amid the lingering impact of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

The study, published by Brazilian thinktank Instituto Igarape and Canadian thinktank the International Development Research Center, found that between November 2011 and February 2012 homicides rose from an estimated rate of 15.2 to 60.9 per 100,000 inhabitants. Half of these killings occurred during armed robbery attempts.

Property crimes, defined in the study as “theft, vandalism or intentional destruction of personal property,” also rose, as well as complaints of police misconduct.

A previous study by the same authors showed a decline in homicides between 2007 and 2010, and rising confidence in the police between 2009 and 2010.

InSight Crime Analysis

The deterioration in public support for the police could give President Michel Martelly the political capital necessary to move forward with the reconstitution of the country’s army, something he promised during his campaign for office. This controversial move would follow a trend seen across Latin America, in which military forces are being increasingly deployed in roles traditionally occupied by police.

However, according to the study, even while 40 percent of those surveyed said in February 2012 that the Haitian National Police (HNP) was doing a good job, 60 percent still said that the police should be the primary enforcers of security on the island. 

Public unease at the notion of restoring the military did little to deter one group of former soliders, who recently began training in an abandoned military base in order to lobby the government. Martelly responded by announcing that they would soon begin clearing out these illicit training camps, despite the fact that he has made friendly public appearances with the unauthorized army units.

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