|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Force Commander of United Nations Mission in Haiti
Cooperation among military partners in Haiti was good following last month’s devastating earthquake, Major General Floriano Peixoto Vieira Neto, Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), told correspondents at Headquarters today.
Speaking via video link from Port-au-Prince, General Peixoto said that the Mission had early on signed an agreement on the division of labour with United States forces and was also working well with Canadian and other forces.
New detachments of Brazilian, Japanese and Korean troops had since arrived. With 380 additional troops expected soon, MINUSTAH would reach the full deployment authorized by the Security Council after the disaster, and would be adequate for the tasks ahead, he said. So far, he added, the military component had been able to meet all security needs.
With its 8,500 troops from 18 countries, MINUSTAH’s military component was assisting with humanitarian aid while continuing to provide security country-wide, he said. Although the Mission had suffered the loss of 24 of its military personnel, it had been operational from the first hours following the earthquake.
It was ensuring stability at 16 aid distribution points in Port-au-Prince, along with those in other places around the country “without any problem”, he said. It was also providing security along the transport corridor from the Dominican Republic to Haiti.
Asked about corruption at the ports, General Peixoto said that such problems were not in the scope of the military component. He added, however, that the seaport and airport were controlled by international troops and were operating “very well”.
To a question about the riot-control techniques of his troops, he said he had no knowledge of the use of 50-calibre weapons fired over the heads of crowds, but stressed MINUSTAH’s strict compliance with United Nations guidelines, given that the Mission was a stabilization force deployed under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which provided for robust rules of engagement. Unnecessary force was never used.
He added that his troops had anti-riot capabilities, including tear gas, but those were only used strictly according to the rules of engagement. Troops received primary training in their home countries and then induction training upon arrival in Haiti, in which those rules, as well as human rights considerations, were reinforced under a clear legal framework.
In case of disturbances, he explained, the Haitian national police would be the first to react, then United Nations police and then the military component. “We do not use the troops as the primary means to confront demonstrations,” he stressed.
A correspondent inquired about summary executions allegedly carried out by the Haitian national police, saying that Edmond Mulet, acting head of MINUSTAH and Assistant Secretary-General, had announced that investigations into the allegations were going on.
General Peixoto replied that it was important to distinguish security operations from the policing sector that dealt with criminality, as well as between the police and military pillars of MINUSTAH. The military component only carried out military investigations.
If Mr. Mulet had said that investigations were going on, he added, he was confident that they would be done with great care.
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