Just hours after this article was published on the morning of
Aug. 15, the National Palace announced that Godson Orélus would
replace Mario Andrésol as Haiti's Police Chief. To understand
why, read on.
Andrésol is one of Haiti’s most powerful men. He heads Haiti’s
only official armed force, the 11,000-member Haitian National
Police (PNH). The force is officially an autonomous civilian
body; its chief, called the Director General, is nominated by
the president, then ratified by the Parliament.
Andrésol has headed the force
since July 2005, when he was appointed to the post, thanks to
U.S. backing, under the coup government of de facto Prime
Minister Gérard Latortue.
At that time, there was no
functioning Parliament. But Feb. 7, 2006 elections brought
President René Préval to power with a new parliament on May 14,
2006. One month later, the U.S. pressured Préval, who wanted to
put someone new, to renominate Andrésol as police chief on Jun.
14, and on Jul. 5, 2006 the new Parliament ratified him for
Préval nominated Andrésol for
yet another renewal under pressure from Washington on Jul. 14,
2009. Andrésol’s third three-year term was ratified by
Parliament on Aug. 18, 2009.
That mandate comes to an end on
Aug. 18, 2012. Andrésol and Washington are pressuring President
Michel Martelly to redeputize the police chief once again.
But according to a former
high-placed police official with intimate knowledge of and
well-placed contacts in Haiti’s security apparatus, two sectors
of Haiti’s ruling class are battling for the post: the pro-U.S.
“bourgeois” current, represented by Prime Minister Laurent
Lamothe, and the drug cartel-linked “makout” sector, represented
by the First Lady’s family, the St. Rémys, and former powerful
senators like Youri Latortue and Joseph Lambert.
In March, Haïti Liberté
long exposé drawing on secret U.S. Embassy cables provided
to it by the media organization WikiLeaks. The cables revealed
that Andrésol was Washington’s darling (see Haïti Liberté,
Vol.5, No. 37, Mar 28, 2012).
For example, in a
Nov. 3, 2006 cable, the U.S. Embassy praised what they
perceived as Andrésol’s “commitment... to reform the HNP
[Haitian National Police], attack corruption, and re-establish
law and order throughout Haiti.”
However an examination of
Andrésol’s record over the past seven years suggests that he
either looked the other way or even condoned the involvement of
high-ranking police officials in kidnapping, drug trafficking,
corruption, and even murder. What follow are some of the most
recent and brazen cases of PNH malfeasance under Andrésol’s
Police involvement in kidnapping and
In April 2012, Emane “Jacques” Jean-Louis,
the owner of Sourire Rent-a-Car in the capital’s Tabarre
district, was kidnapped. His family eventually paid the
kidnappers about $600,000 in ransom, and he was freed.
But, immediately following his
release, Emane took legal action against the PNH for the
involvement of police officers in his kidnapping, according to
the former high-ranking police official who requested that he
not be named. Emane provided the license plate number of a
police vehicle used and the names of several of the policemen
involved. Up until now, there has been no action by the police
to arrest any of those that Emane accuses of having helped
Then there is the case of
businessman Richardson Croicy in Cap Haïtien. He was kidnapped
on May 22, 2012 and then murdered. Investigating judge Heidi
Fortuné issued over 15 arrest warrants for seven police officers
that she believed were involved in the kidnapping and murder.
However Carl Henri Boucher, the North Department’s police
director, refused to act on the judge’s warrants to arrest the
policemen and even facilitated their flight from justice.
“Boucher is a very close
associate of Andrésol,” the former high-level police official
told Haïti Liberté. “Andrésol had him sent to the United
States for police training, and once you get U.S. training, you
are in effect part of Andrésol’s inner circle.”
The daily newspaper Le
Nouvelliste of Jun. 25, 2012 reported that “according to a
source close to the [Croicy] investigation, most of the police
officers implicated in this affair have already fled the country
for Providenciales via the Dominican Republic.”
Another shocking case of an
apparent police cover-up was the kidnapping and murder of a
young Haitian woman, Monique Pierre, four years ago. After a
drug trafficking conviction, Ms. Pierre, 35, had been deported
from the U.S. where she had reportedly made a small fortune. But
on Nov. 29, 2008, she was kidnapped and later found dead with
two bullets to her head and her eyes gouged out.
The police chief of Gonaïves,
Ernst Dorfeuille, was Ms. Pierre’s lover and the number one
suspect in the case, accused by investigators of links with Ms.
Pierre’s kidnappers. There were also reports that a vehicle with
the license plate traced to Joseph Lambert, a leading Senator
from Haiti’s Southeast Department, was involved in the
kidnapping. Nonetheless, the investigation never went anywhere
and neither Dorfeuille (who was briefly arrested) nor Lambert
were ever charged. The crime remains unsolved.
Most recently, on Jun. 12,
2012, policemen with the Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM)
killed two young men, Makenson St. Vil, 27, and Reginald
L’Herisson, 23, at the house in downtown Port-au-Prince where
they lived. Witnesses say the two young men did nothing to
provoke the shooting and were gunned down in cold blood. Until
now, two months later, the police have yet to arrest any police
officers or make any investigation into the killings despite
street demonstrations demanding justice for the two victims.
In late 2010, Andrésol conceded
on a radio program that as much as 25% of his officers might
have been involved in criminal activities. In November 2006,
Michel Lucius, the head of the Judicial Police (DCPJ), Haiti’s
main investigative unit, was fired and arrested for his
involvement in kidnappings. He was released in December 2007
despite the protest of the judge who issued the original arrest
There are many stories of police
corruption, but none is more spectacular than what happened in
the northwestern city of Port-de-Paix four years ago, largely
because no policemen were ever convicted for the crime.
On Nov. 12, 2008 in the
Port-de-Paix neighborhood of Lavaud, Haitian authorities raided
the home of Marc Frédéric, the uncle of accused drug trafficker
Alain Désir, who had been arrested in the U.S. three weeks
earlier. The raid was carried out by four Justice Department
officials, 18 police officers, and a representative of the U.N.
Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH).
A huge and still unknown amount
of cash was found in the house and distributed among the
policemen and court officers involved (but not the MINUSTAH
representative), according to press reports and
a report by the National Network to Defend Human Rights (RNDDH).
Officials later claimed that the crooked cops took a sum of
about $1.7 million, but investigators estimate the money stolen
was several million dollars.
Over the next two days, the
police officers shared the take with eight other justice
officials and policemen in Port-de-Paix.
Andrésol eventually announced
26 arrests for questioning, 19 policemen and seven court
officials. But no convictions ever resulted, and all those
involved (except one who died) are now free.
The Northwest Department’s
police chief, Bernard Mary Dadaille, went to police headquarters
in Port-au-Prince a few days after the Lavaud raid.
“Dadaille had brought a large
sum of money to divide up with the police brass in the capital,”
our formerly high-placed police source explained. “But the word
about the money taken in the Lavaud raid was already all over
the media, and Andrésol did not want to be implicated. So he saw
to it that Dadaille fled the country to the Dominican Republic,
where he disappeared from view.”
For show, on Jan. 28, 2009, the
police raided Dadaille’s house in Carradeux, a Port-au-Prince
suburb, but claimed they didn’t find the police chief or any
Among those arrested following
the Lavaud raid was Jean Raymond Philippe, who had been the
deputy chief of the Northwest Department under Dadaille. But on
Jan. 12, 2009, Philippe died under mysterious circumstances in
the custody of the Judicial Police, who claim that he committed
suicide by drinking battery acid.
Philippe’s wife, Jeanette Désir
went to Radio Kiskeya on Jan. 23, 2009, where “proclaiming
her despair, the widow said in her last conversation with
Jean-Raymond Philippe, hours before his death on Jan. 12, there
was no indication of that worst-case scenario,” where he would
commit suicide, the radio reported. “But the deceased did not
hide his surprise that the authorities had placed him under
judicial inquiry in connection with the investigation into the
alleged looting of drug money during a search of Alain Désir’s
uncle’s house. During a second telephone call made the same day,
Jeannette Désir Philippe could not speak to the police officer
who answered only with continuous groans. Another person who had
snatched the handset had obstinately refused to identify
himself, said the upset wife.”
The widow said that “her
husband, with whom she had lived for 22 years, was a modest and
honest man who had given 31 years of service to his country in
the ranks of the Haitian Armed Forces, then in the National
Police,” the radio reported.
In the end, the mysteries of
Philippe’s death, Dadaille’s flight, and the disappearance of
millions of dollars from Marc Frédéric’s home were never solved
and nobody was ever prosecuted, much less convicted.
The torture and death of Serge
Perhaps the most damning case against
Andrésol is the torture and death of Serge Démosthène, 44, on
Jun. 15, 2011. On that day, police arrested Démosthène with
another man, Feckel Plaisimond, following the Jun. 12 killing of
Guiteau Toussaint, the director of the Banque National de Crédit.
The two men were taken to the Pétionville police station. The
police tortured Démosthène to death in an effort to have him
confess to the murder. Port-au-Prince’s chief prosecutor
Harrycidas Auguste reportedly witnessed Démosthène’s killing.
Démosthène and Plaisimond, it
was later established, were both innocent and Plaisimond was
released after being jailed for several months.
The PNH Inspector General Fritz
Jean looked into the case and arrested Vanel Lacroix, the
Pétionville PNH chief who had supervised the torture. But the
arrest created a crisis in the police.
“Vanel Lacroix was very close
to Andrésol,” the former high-ranking police official said. “So
Andrésol was enraged at Fritz Jean when he arrested Lacroix and
imprisoned him. The conflict created a huge rift between the
number one and the number two in the PNH. Finally, in September
2011, Fritz Jean resigned his post and fled to Canada because he
feared for his life.”
In his resignation letter, Jean
complained that Andrésol was blocking his investigation into Démosthène’s death, for example, by transferring Jean’s sole
investigator, Jude Altidor. "I draw the attention of state
authorities, of my superiors, and of society that this transfer,
which occurred following an investigation into the death of the
man named Serge Démosthène at the Pétion-ville police station,
.... is orchestrated by the Director General in order to
undermine the resolve, effectiveness, and especially the
independence of the IGPNH [the PNH’s Inspector General’s office]
in the conduct of its investigations," Jean wrote in his letter.
All his efforts "to prevent human rights violations by the
police are undermined by the Chief," Jean concluded.
Our source also said that Démosthène had formerly been a land guardian employed by
Andrésol, and that the two men were at odds. This creates
further suspicion around Démosthène’s death and the alleged
efforts to block its investigation.
Démosthène’s murder in custody
provoked alarm among Haiti’s overseers. In December 2011, the
MINUSTAH’s Human Rights arm – Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights - issued
a report which said “that the investigation of the PNH’s
Inspector General into the death of Serge Démosthène has caused
tensions with the PNH’s Director General, which raises the
question of the independence afforded the PNH’s Inspector
General. This report looks at possible interference with
judicial independence during this investigation.”
With Fritz Jean out of the
Inspector General’s post, finally three weeks ago in July, Lacroix was freed from jail, a liberation which was
denounced by the RNDDH as “outrageous.”
A Record of Mismanagement
There are many other cases which call into
question Andrésol’s leadership.
When, for example, President
Michel Martelly and his then Interior Minister Thierry Mayard-Paul
ordered the illegal arrest on Oct. 27, 2011 of Deputy Arnel
Bélizaire, who as an elected official enjoys immunity from
arrest, the police chief should have refused. “But the chief of
the operation to arrest Bélizaire, Godson Orélus, the head of
the DCPJ, acted on orders from Mario Andrésol,” our once
high-placed source explains. “Andrésol directed the operation
from beginning to end, and this was testified to in the
Another example of corruption
dates back to 2004. Following the coup d’état against President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004, over 100 police
officers were fired. “Two police promotions graduated under
Aristide,” our source says. “They were fired, but their checks
are still issued and go every month to the Director General’s
headquarters, which cashes the checks and uses them. This began
under PNH chief Léon Charles but continues under Andrésol.
Furthermore, several police officers who remain on duty have
residency in the U.S., France, or Canada. They live overseas for
years, but because they are close to Andrésol, they continue to
receive their paychecks.”
Another constant complaint from
the public is that there aren’t enough police in Haiti. Of
Haiti’s 10,814 police officers, only 2,175 are stationed in the
provinces outside the capital, according to the U.S. State
2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).
However, “many policemen are used as private security for former
parliamentarians and presidential counselors, who don’t have the
right to personal police protection,” our source said. “Any
bodyguards that those people have should be hired privately, not
subsidized by the Haitian state. But when you are friend of
Andrésol, or the St. Rémy family [Martelly’s wife’s family],
[former Interior Minister] Thierry Mayard-Paul, or Laurent
Lamothe, the authorities give you PNH security. Meanwhile, the
population lacks police protection.”
In a similar vein, when people
call the police for help, the police often answer that they
don’t have enough vehicles to respond. “However, on any given
morning, you’ll see police officers driving their kids to
school, or their wives to work, or to a studio to do their nails
and hair,” our formerly high-placed source says. “Maybe, they
take the car to do an errand in another town. All of this
contributes to insecurity.”
As noted in Haïti Liberté’s article
on the police chief in March, there has been a conflict between
Director General Andrésol and President Martelly.
On the one hand, the U.S.,
which pays for and controls most of Haiti’s police training,
approves of Andrésol and would like to see his mandate renewed
for another three years.
But there is another contender
for the post: the current Number Three of the PNH, Godson Orélus,
director of the Judicial Police (DCPJ), Haiti’s equivalent of
“Godson Orélus has a the
backing of the drug trafficking sector, people like the St. Rémy
family [of Haitian First Lady Sofia Martelly], and former
senators like Youri Latortue and Joseph Lambert, who are now
Martelly’s close advisors,” said our former highly-placed police
official. “They are putting a lot of pressure on Martelly to
name Orélus as police chief.”
After the 2004 coup, Orélus was
named by then PNH Chief Léon Charles as the police director of
the Southern Department. “He had two missions,” our source
explains. “The first was to chase down, neutralize, and
terrorize all the Lavalas activists, all of Aristide’s
partisans. The second was to assure the smooth delivery of drugs
coming from South America. Godson carried out both missions very
well, so well in fact that the DEA [U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency] asked the Latortue government to transfer Orélus because
they could see he led no fight against drug smuggling in the
South Department. So Orélus was transferred to become the PNH
director of the Artibonite, where he became the right-hand man
of Senator Youri Latortue [from the Artibonite] as well as the
St. Rémy family which comes from Gonaïves.”
Our source also says that
“Orélus paid Senator Joseph Lambert a large amount of cash for
him to be his champion in the Senate.” The terms of Senators
Lambert and Latortue expired in May.
Hence, President Michel
Martelly finds himself between two warring factions in his
government. On the one hand, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe
represents the regime’s “bourgeois” wing, which seems to be
moving into closer alliance with Washington (especially after
his visit to Washington on Jul. 23-24) and will surely pressure
for Andrésol’s renomination.
On the other hand, there is the
regime’s more “makout” wing, involved in drug trafficking,
represented by the St. Rémy family (primarily Martelly’s
brother-in-law Kiko St. Rémy), Youri Latortue, Joseph Lambert,
and the brothers Thierry and Gregory Mayard-Paul, both now
“Basically we are seeing a
fight between the assembly industry/telecommunications sector,
led by Lamothe, for Andrésol, and the drug sector, led by Sofia
[St. Rémy Martelly], for Orélus,” concludes our former
high-ranking police official.
Martelly is more likely to side
with the U.S. and Lamothe sector due to the current rapport of
forces in Haiti, our source predicts, “but we cannot
underestimate the pressure that can be brought by Sofia, who is
a lot like Michelle Bennett [the wife of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc”
Duvalier from 1980 to 1986], as well as advisors like the Mayard-Pauls, Latortue, and Lambert. Martelly is going to feel
real heat from both sides.”
Martelly will have to announce his decision by Aug.
18, when Andrésol’s term ends. His dilemma is captured by a
Haitian proverb: "Chen gen kat pye, men li ka mache nan yon
sèl chemen." A dog has four legs, but he can only go in one