With the Government of Canada’s renewed commitment to promoting peace, security and the rule of law abroad, five CSC Correctional Advisors were deployed on a temporary international assignment to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in early 2017.
The deployment, funded through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of Global Affairs Canada, focused on building credible correctional institutions within Haiti to improve the Rule of Law, principles of gender equality, human rights, and improvement of detention conditions in Haitian prisons.
Haiti is one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the Americas and stands as Canada’s largest aid beneficiary in the region. With a population of 10.4 million, the country ranks 168 out of 187 on the United Nations Development Programme’s 2014 Human Development Index and has an unemployment rate of 40 percent. This unfortunate reality is also reflected in the country’s prison system, where overcrowding, inhumane and degrading detention conditions are a daily concern. Not only do these conditions affect prisoners, they also affect prison workers at all levels of the Haitian correctional system.
In April 2017, it was decided that the MINUSTAH would close on 15 October 2017, transitioning to a smaller follow-up peacekeeping Mission which would support Government efforts to strengthen rule-of-law institutions, further develop the Haitian National Police and engage in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.
Since the Correctional Service of Canada is recognized as a leader in the international corrections community, CSC is filling key strategic and technical positions, focusing on strategic planning; reporting and communications; treatment of offenders and case management; security operations; and advising on the Direction de l’Administration pénitentiaire’s (DAP) delivery of health care services for offenders, including women and vulnerable populations.
Caroline Turcotte and Troy Akerley, two of the five officers who were deployed in February 2017, have now returned home from their mission in Haiti.
Caroline Turcotte served as a Corrections Communications and Reporting Advisor from February 2017 to February 2018. While in Haiti, she supported the UN Corrections Advisory Unit (CAU) in establishing processes for the collection, analysis and presentation of information and data gathered by the other members of the CAU. She worked on the development of an assessment tool to measure conformity of Haitian prisons to the Mandela rules and was part of the group that prepared the final draft of the Haitian prison Law: « Avant-projet de loi sur le système pénitentiaire et le statut juridique des détenus en Haïti”.
Troy Akerley served as a Corrections Strategic Planning Advisor from February 2017 until July 2018. While in Haiti, he provided support to the CAU on the organisation and management of its workforce and action plan. He also provided technical advice, mentoring support to the DAP on organisational governance, strategic planning, training for middle and senior managers, workforce analysis and a multi-year DAP recruitment strategy.
During the executive committee held on October 3rd, 2018, Commissioner Anne Kelly presented both of them with the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal. The Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal (CPSM) acknowledges the unique contribution to peace that Canadian peacekeepers have made since 1947. It was inspired by the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to all United Nations Peacekeepers in 1988 in recognition of their collective efforts in the cause of peace.
While she was able to work in these areas during her time in Haiti, Caroline Turcotte stated, “It is critical to pursue the work in alignment with the UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners (Mandela Rules). This will guide the improvement of the detention conditions as well as the working conditions of people within the Haitian correctional system.”
While they were able to contribute and offer their experience and expertise, both recipients felt that they returned from Haiti bringing back more than what they felt they offered during their mission. According to Troy Akerley, it was both a privilege and an honor to serve and to represent CSC in the mission. “All I can hope for is that my work alongside the national counterparts of the Direction de l’Administration Pénitentiaire helped to move the marker forward on their strategic planning and governance.”
The Commissioner proudly thanked Caroline Turcotte and Troy Akerly for their contribution to MINUSTAH. The Commissioner also recognized once more that CSC firmly believes in contributing to improving international correctional practices through the reciprocal sharing of information and expertise.