Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09PORTAUPRINCE265
2009-03-10 17:19:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR HOSTS DISCUSSION OF CORRUPTION

Tags:  PGOV PHUM ECON HA 
pdf how-to read a cable
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000265 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, DRL, S/CRS, INR/IAA
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ECON HA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR HOSTS DISCUSSION OF CORRUPTION

REF: PORT AU PRINCE 065

PORT AU PR 00000265 001.2 OF 002


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000265

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, DRL, S/CRS, INR/IAA
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ECON HA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR HOSTS DISCUSSION OF CORRUPTION

REF: PORT AU PRINCE 065

PORT AU PR 00000265 001.2 OF 002



1. (SBU) Summary: Government and civil society
epresentatives at an Ambassador-hosted discussion oncurred
that corruption in Haiti is ubiquitous nd requires stiffer
laws, expanded education andtraining, partnership between
the government and private sector, ongoing civil society
involvement and continuing help from foreign donors. End
smmary.


2. (SBU) The Ambassador hosted a lunch a her residence
January 28 to discuss anti-corrupion efforts with
representatives from the governmnt, the private sector, and
NGOs. Present were mos Durosier, General Director of the
Anti-Corrution Unit (ULCC) of the Ministry of Economy and
Finance; Jean-Ostricht Hercules, Director of the Financial
Intelligence Unit (UCREF) of the Ministry of Justice and
Public Security; mango exporter Bernard Craan; Kesner Pharel,
economic journalist and radio talk-show host; Marilyn Allien,
Director of the Heritage Foundation for Haiti (the Haitian
arm of Transparency International); and Anthony Pascal, Head
of the Citizen Observatory of Government Action. Joining the
Ambassador from the Embassy were the Political and Economic
Counselors and the head of USAID's Office for Governing
Justly and Democratically (GJD).


3. (SBU) Allien of Heritage observed that bribery occurred at
all levels of government and the economy, including in public
schools. Her foundation is encouraging the use of government
identification badges as a deterrent to corruption. Citizens
should be able to identify officials against whom they lodged
complaints of corruption. Bernard Craan noted that Haitian
parents with children in public schools spend 40 percent of
their income on education. This private sector leader
admitted there is a high level of tax evasion in Haiti.
Craan recalled that the private sector in late 2007 had
proposed to President Preval an incentive plan to induce tax
delinquents to pay up. The government would give businesses
one year to declare and pay back taxes on their concealed
past income, plus a penalty lower than that prescribed by
current law. Following that one-year grace period, the
government would investigate vigorously and impose a penalty

higher than the current legal level on tax delinquents. The
private sector had also proposed a 20 percent flat income tax
rate to encourage greater tax compliance by individuals.


4. (SBU) Craan disputed Anthony Pascal's assertion that
corruption resulted from low salaries and mass unemployment.
(Note: Unemployment in Haiti is estimated at anywhere between
60 and 90 percent, depending upon whether one includes
informal sector activities as employment. End note.) Craan
believed that corruption was the product of weak state
institutions that posed no effective counterweight to the
strong private sector. The most damaging institutional
weakness lay in the judiciary. Journalist Pharel referred to
the draft anti-corruption bill that had yet to be submitted
to the legislature, which would define and establish specific
penalties for acts of corruption. Jean-Ostrict Hercules of
UCREF said that it was fine to improve the law, but
enforcement of existing Haitian laws remained generally weak.
The corruption ''crisis'' was systemic. Raising the
salaries of judicial officials would not in itself reduce
corruption. Haiti needed the political will to reform the
judicial system and exert consistent pressure on all sectors.
He claimed that the 1987 constitution subordinated the
judicial system to the executive branch. The government used
the ''good conduct discharge'' which all judges are required
to obtain after leaving office to pressure judges: the latter
knew the government could fabricate evidence of financial or
other wrongdoing after they left office if they resisted
pressure to decide cases as the government wanted.


5. (SBU) Journalist Kesner Pharel said that an independent
press was a critical control mechanism against corruption,
and that Haiti's press needed to be stronger. He conceded
that trying cases in the Haitian press was not fair to the
accused. Anthony Pascal pointed out that Haiti's criminal
code dated from 1935 and needed reform to take account of
modern forms of corruption. The USAID GJD Section head noted

PORT AU PR 00000265 002.2 OF 002


the importance of civil society initiatives: people had
organized demonstrations that had helped Parliament pass
anti-kidnapping legislation, and something similar was needed
for corruption. ULCC Director Durosier argued that Haiti
needed a change in the mentality that tolerated corruption.
Haiti needed laws to raise the costs of corrupt acts. The
country should implement ''control mechanisms'' to check
corruption, give civil servants anti-corruption training, and
educate students against corruption in education, i.e. the
widespread practice of cheating.


6. (SBU) Bernard Craan replied that Haiti needed not just new
laws but long-term reform of institutions and a state-private
sector ''national pact'' against corruption. Durosier of
ULCC said his organization had completed an anti-corruption
strategy for 2010-18, which they had discussed with
stakeholders and submitted to the government. ULCC was
awaiting World Bank review and approval of 10 project
documents contained in the strategy. Hercules noted that
with the help of USAID, UCREF had installed an Integrated
Financial Management System (IFMS) in 43 separate government
offices in Port-au-Prince, which gave ULCC the ability to
track government expenditures, including those of the
Presidency.


7. (SBU) Durosier went on to say that the World Bank had
recommended contracting the Basel Institute on Governance to
provide GOH officials anti-corruption training. The main
recipients would be judges and prosecutors, few of whom were
currently capable of handling a corruption case. Haiti's
Magistracy School needed to introduce a core course on
corruption. The ULCC would also compile a compendium of all
Haitian laws pertaining to corruption. Finally, it would
continue its anti-corruption public awareness campaign. In
relation to Haiti's asset disclosure law for public
officials, Durosier noted that his office had received only
113 asset declarations thus far, including only one from a
member of parliament. (Note: we do not know the total number
of officials subject to this law. End note.)


8. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that anti-corruption programs
such as the IFMS would continue as a core element of USG
assistance to Haiti.


9. (SBU) Comment: The USG is currently investing USD 4.7
million in FY 06, 07, and 08 funds in 1) continuing and
expanding the IFMS that involves the GOH, private sector and
USG; 2) providing substantial support to the Heritage
Foundation for Haiti, and 3) extending small grants for
innovative civil society proposals that combat corruption and
promote public accountability.
SANDERSON