The Joseph Biden administration said on Wednesday that it was still considering the request by the Haitian government to send troops to protect key infrastructure in the French-speaking Caribbean country in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
“We continue to evaluate the Haitians’ — the Haitian Government’s request for assistance to determine how best the United States can address them,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the US Department of State, told a press briefing.
“After close consultations, including in the context of the interagency delegation that was in Port-au-Prince (the Haitian capital) on Sunday, we believe our focus should be assisting the Haitian Government with navigating the investigation into the assassination of President Moise, determining who is culpable, supporting the Haitian Government as it seeks justice in this case,” he added.
“Of course, the situation on the ground is evolving rapidly, and we continue to be in close contact with our Haitian partners about how we can best assist,” Price continued.
He said that the US Department of Justice, together with the Department of Homeland Security, is providing assistance to Haitian authorities.
Price said the Department of Justice will continue to support Haitian authorities in their review of the facts and the circumstances surrounding Moïse’s assassination.
“We are also taking a close look at the Haitian Government’s needs in the context of critical infrastructure and how the United States might be able to assist the Haitian Government in protecting that critical infrastructure,” he said.
In response to a request from the Haitian Government and building on longstanding cooperation, Price disclosed the Department of State is deploying an advisor to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Judicial Police and bringing on board an advisor to the HNP Inspector General.
He said the advisor to the HNP Judicial Police will provide technical assistance “to build the capacity of the Haitian National Police to investigate and to address serious crimes.”
The State Department spokesman said the advisor to the police’s inspector general will help the HNP improve its capacity to address allegations of corruption, of human rights abuses and police misconduct.
Price said the Biden administration is also currently supporting seven subject matter experts who advise the HNP on topics such as counter-narcotics and community policing.
In addition, he said the US is supporting training and procuring vehicles, radios, protective equipment “to build the capacity of the Haitian National Police to protect Haitians from violence.”
Price said the US Department of Homeland Security is sending experts from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to work with their Haitian counterparts in improving aviation and “critical infrastructure security as well.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also told reporters on Wednesday, in a separate press briefing, that the US has “a very large diplomatic presence on the ground” in Haiti.
“Our ambassador — our ambassador, Sison, has been very involved and deeply engaged in efforts on the ground,” she said. “We have more than 100 American citizens who are working on the ground.
“We’ve also responded to a number of their specific requests in terms of personnel and aid and assistance on the law enforcement front as they are working to move the investigation forward,” Psaki added. “In terms of additional considerations or considerations of requests for troops, that is still an ongoing review.”