Police officers fire their weapons at army soldiers during a protest over police pay and working conditions for the national police, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

Hours after masked protesters, some of whom were armed and dressed in police uniforms, attacked and ransacked several Haitian government ministries in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, the country’s recently installed prime minister announced an about face.

Joseph Jouthe said Haiti, which has long banned its police officers from unionizing, will allow its 15,000-member national police force to organize and form a union. The decision, he said, will be done via a presidential decree.

The files of five fired police officers involved in the unionization effort, will also be reviewed, Jouthe said. The cops were fired last month after they were accused of vandalizing the offices of the Inspector General of the Police and tagging police vehicles with the logo of their union, SPNH. They also opened fire on the street.

Jouthe also said the troubled police force, which turns 25 in June, will be the subject of an audit, done by international and local experts, with the goal of proposing solutions to address lingering problems. Officers pushing for a union have complained about measly pay, poor working conditions and the lack of healthcare and equipment to do their job. Continue reading

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