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Calling Upon President Bush to Strengthen the United States Involvement in Haiti

WHEREAS, Haiti was initially explored by Columbus on December 6, 1492, and in 1697 became the French colony of Saint-Dominique. In 1791, an insurrection erupted among the slave population of 480,000, resulting in a declaration of independence by Pierre-Dominique Toussaint l'Ouverture in 1801. Napoléon Bonaparte suppressed the independence movement, but it eventually triumphed in 1804 under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who gave the new nation the Arawak name Haiti. It was the western hemisphere's first independent black republic; and

WHEREAS, in February 2004, opposition forces staged an armed rebellion against the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The rebellion joined together the right-wing Convergence for Democracy, the pro-business Group of 184 and militia commanders close to former dictators, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The rebel military force was small, but the Aristide government had no army and only weak police units; and

WHEREAS, when the rebels captured provincial capitals, regional organizations sought a political solution to the crisis. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) urged the United Nations Security Council to send a multinational force to restore order; and

WHEREAS, on February 29, 2004 the day Aristide left the country and went into exile, the Security Council unanimously voted to send a multinational military force to restore order. The United States and France played a leading role in this force, along with Canada and Chile. On April 30, 2004 the Council adopted a new resolution establishing a peacekeeping force in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for an initial six months; and

WHEREAS, the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1542 established the mandate for the peacekeeping mission on June 1, 2004 and designated three principal areas of responsibility: providing a secure and stable environment; supporting the democratic political process and good governance in preparation for upcoming elections; and monitoring and reporting on human rights conditions; and

WHEREAS, despite efforts, the U.N. peacekeeping force has not been able to curtail the violence in Haiti; and

WHEREAS, at the end of 2004, the U.S. State Department concluded that the authority of the Interim Government of Haiti [IGOH] was largely limited to central Port-au-Prince, with pro-Aristide groups in control of many of the Port-au-Prince slums; leaving the rest of the country unprotected with anti-Aristide rebels are in control of many towns in the countryside. By another estimate, 60 percent of the national territory was beyond the control of the government, and the escalating violence continues to claim and has severely restricted Haitians' daily lives, especially those that live in Port-au-Prince, with little sign of an aggressive National Police/U.N. plan to re-take this territory; and

WHEREAS, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the United States to send military assistance to Haiti to support a UN peacekeeping mission beset by mounting armed challenges to its authority; and

WHEREAS, local elections are to be held on October 9 and legislative and presidential elections are scheduled for November 13, with a run-off set for December 18. However, voter registration and other election procedures are not on schedule; and

WHEREAS, the widespread human rights abuses and ongoing violence in the country make the prospect of democratic elections extremely difficult; and

WHEREAS, Haitian leaders have complained that the peacekeeping mission failed to help local authorities keep order among street gangs in the capital; and

WHEREAS, the political, security, and social-economic situation in Haiti remains in crisis, the transitional government is weak and fighting to maintain credibility, and there are no clear signs of either political reconciliation or economic reconstruction; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on President Bush to take a stronger leadership role in helping to stabilize Haiti by sending US troops of Haitian descent, to support the Haitian National Police; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on national, racial and ethnic minority, legal and law enforcement associations to provide technical, legal and law enforcement services and training to assist in strengthening and improving the Haitian Justice System; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on President Bush to provide adequate funding to empower and train the Haitian National Police, to support the Haitian Judiciary, and to support economic development, while supporting Haitian sovereignty; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on the United States to improve its Haitian Immigration policy by passing the Haitian Compassion Act introduced by Congressman Alcee Hastings which would provide Temporary Protected Status against deportation for Haitian citizens living in the United States.