Canada Announces RCMP Mission in Haiti

On October 5, two days after the UN Security Council authorized an interventionist force to enter Haiti, Global Affairs Canada announced plans to deploy RCMP officers to Haiti "to act as trainers in a multinational military intervention, with officials promising an added focus on preventing sexual violence," the Canadian Press (CP) reported.

"The RCMP are looking at being focused on technical training," said Lisa Vandehei, the head of an interdepartmental task force on Haiti at Global Affairs Canada. "Canada's training mission, the planning for it is still underway," she testified at the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on October 5. 

"Vandehei said Canada is still assessing its contribution to the mission, adding that Kenya is prepared to launch a deployment within 90 days of its parliament ratifying the mission," CP said. That puts its deployment to January, all else being equal. Given that the languages spoken in Kenya are Swahili and English, members of the Kenyan police are now said to be learning French to prepare for their mission.

CP reports Vandehei saying the RCMP will likely train officers of the Haitian National Police on "very surgical, technical areas" through a model that would have each Canadian-trained officer go on to teach other Haitian peers.

"The RCMP are the best in the world in several areas of policing that the HNP need, in certain elements," Vandehei said.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that Ottawa is also "focused on preventing sexual and gender-based violence" in Haiti. CP reports that the statement noted "gangs have been using sexual violence as a means of controlling the population” and that Vandehei noted in her testimony that in past military interventions in Haiti, locals have reported widespread sexual exploitation by both fellow citizens and foreign armies. Given these reports it would seem that the "focus" is on hiding the sexual violence of foreign forces sent to Haiti.

"We are very much attuned to that, and especially when it comes to sexual and gender-based violence taking place already in Haiti," she said.

"We're looking at working with the Kenyans and the U.S. on how to bring our own lessons learned to the table from our [historical] work in Haiti as well."

"Vandehei said Canada's aim with the multinational mission is to ensure police have the training and equipment they need to maintain order in Haiti after foreign forces leave, and that the society has the institutions needed for a viable democracy," CP wrote. "We're going into this issue with open eyes, and it's why we're creating a multi-faceted solution," Vandehei said.

According to the CP report, Vandehei shed some light on recent Canadian efforts to shore up the Haitian National Police, including on a June announcement of the International Security Assistance Co-ordination Group, which has Canada managing how various countries support the HNP.

She said "Canada is co-ordinating contributions from 'over 26 countries,' such as where the equipment offered by foreign countries could be best used in Haiti, whether it responds to local needs and if it's interoperable with existing kit."

Similarly, "Canada is helping assemble a training calendar so that foreign police can fill the gaps that Haitian and Canadian officials have identified. She said part of the idea is pulling out cohorts for training in numbers that won't disrupt an already strained police force. Vandehei noted that there are roughly 9,000 police officers for a nation of more than 11 million people."

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 12 - October 2023

Article Link:


Website:   Email: