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U.N.-Trained Force Takes Over Policing of Haiti

December 02, 1997| From Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Little tested and little trusted, U.N.-trained Haitian police assumed responsibility for the safety of Haiti's wary people Monday at the end of a 3-year-old U.N. peacekeeping mission.

The U.N. mission to restore order to Haiti ended at midnight Sunday, handing most of its duties over to civilian Haitian National Police--a 6,000-strong force assembled from scratch that has yet to win the public's confidence.

Already, many Haitians--still suffering from the crimes of unchecked armed gangs--accuse the police of brutality and corruption.

"They couldn't protect us from gangsters even if they wanted to, and they don't," said Henri Jean-Claude, who like 70% of Haiti's 6.6 million people has no steady job.

Last month, armed bands killed 60 people in the country.

Jean-Claude, of suburban Port-au-Prince, said police find it degrading to do foot patrols, so when their cars break down, which happens often, they do not patrol.

The U.N. soldiers from Canada and Pakistan replaced U.S. troops who arrived in 1994 to end brutal military rule and halt a flood of Haitian refugees to Florida.

At its peak in 1995, the U.N. mission had 6,000 troops in Haiti.

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