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Haiti's Corruption Fight: Ethics Curriculum and Technological Convergence Adoption, a Case Analysis.


Corruption robs the poor” Joy Famador

Written by HAMREC, Jul 27, 2023

The Miami Herald wrote on Aug 3, 2023, “Local residents reported that traders who want to cross the town of Liancourt with their goods must pay between 500 to 1,000 U.S. dollars to the police so that an armored tank of the National Police of Haiti can facilitate the crossing.” This picture sums up bribery in Haiti.

Corruption is the central impediment to development in low-income countries, where a select group of individuals often exploit their positions of power to divert resources meant for the public good. To promote sustainable progress in governance, tackling fraud is vital. It is an endeavor that requires collaborative efforts from honest individuals within governments, international organizations, and local communities, pinpointing and resolving areas where vulnerabilities exist. It is a challenging struggle that necessitates civic organizations to run awareness campaigns and engage in investigative journalism to hold those in power accountable.

Everyone knows that Haiti has rampant and uncontrollable corruption. It is a pervasive and systematic issue that permeates across the nation. Unethical, amoral, and illegal acts such as extortion, bribery, fraud, scams, and fund misappropriations contribute to the degradation of our institutions. It is often seen in the regular interactions between governmental entities and private persons or commercial enterprises. The misuse of public funds by government officials affects us all. Many news outlets often report irresponsible governmental authorities using public resources, such as cars and equipment facilities, for personal use. They are, in essence, stealing away from critical public services and infrastructure projects.

When resources aren't handled well or not shared equally, it can lead to social differences, unrest, humanitarian disasters, and scars that can take generations to heal.

Corruption in the public and private spheres leads to bribery to circumvent established trade barriers, diminish national tariffs, and monopolize national and international commerce. In Haiti, a significant amount of government revenue is lost monthly through tax evasion.




Honest investors tend to refrain from investing in the country. In contrast, individuals with fraudulent intentions driven by the need for immediate financial gains will pour in to exacerbate the detrimental impact of corruption on our soil. Consequently, an adverse cultural environment emerges. W. Riddick observed that Haiti has one of the lowest amounts of foreign capital per person of any country. Investors agree that there aren't enough rights in Haiti, the courts are corrupt and don't work well, customs and port officials are dishonest and don't do their jobs well, dealing with the government is a nightmare, and corruption is widespread.”

To combat this scourge and shed light on the mismanagement of resources in Haiti, HAMREC provides transparent and reliable information to drive discussions against corruption, inefficiency, and the lack of accountability in governance. As forward-thinking individuals, we aim to offer valuable insights centered around innovative ideas, effective leadership, and disruptive strategy to effect changes in Haiti's government.

Background information: In our series exploring the mismanagement of Haiti resources, we welcomed Attorney General Paul E. Villard on July 15, 2023, to discuss corruption. Mr. Villard acted as the government commissioner for the Port-au-Prince Jurisdiction for a short period between 2018 and 2019.

During the conference, he spoke extensively about ethics and how proper curricula in primary and secondary education can be part of solutions built around resolving the scourge of corruption. According to Mr. Villard, Haiti already possesses many laws essential to fight criminality in government, including strict anti-corruption statutes. However, the absence of enforcement tools in the nation allows for widespread corruption to go unchecked. Systemic corruption undermines the efficacy of punitive measures, making imposing sanctions challenging. This difficulty arises because the same instruments used to perpetrate crime often serve as obstacles to the punishment of anyone involved. That is besides the palpable lack of willingness to alter the status quo. If the police and courts cannot investigate and prosecute corrupt persons without interference, corruption will endure. It is frustrating that honest individuals cannot do much to stop the bureaucracy's waste, inefficiency, and ineptitude.

Mr. Villard further warned about the dangerous apathy of the population, consequently to such an extent that it is increasingly seen as acceptable or commonplace to engage in government-related theft. Adam Blackwell from the world economic forum explained the same thing; he wrote about how tolerance is a challenging aspect of corruption that cannot be codified; consequently, only some conventions address it directly. The main danger for Haiti is that bribery is already an established and recognized element of the culture and an everyday occurrence.

Mr. Villard explained that perpetrating corrupt actions may be traced to the individual's inherent character traits and ethical framework. The influence of one's social background and individual personality qualities may also play a role in the absence of moral ideals that promote honesty and integrity. While having ambitious standards is not unethical, aspirations based on greed can lead to acts of bribery and other forms of corruption.

We highly recommend his new book, currently available on, “Haiti et le spectre de la corruption.

Here we analyze the close relationship between the overexploitation, looting, waste, misallocation, and mismanagement of our resources and the overwhelming corruption within the Haitian government. We will place the onus on integrating the ethics-focused academic curriculum foundation that Mr. Villard champions and implementing specialized tools and digital transformation inside the daily operations of the three branches of government to address corruption in Haiti.

The scope of the approach excludes corruption found in the private sphere. Corruption can assume diverse manifestations. This analysis focuses on the specific forms of corruption that impede economic development and directly impact state revenue and other resources. These forms include grand corruption, judicial corruption, environmental corruption, embezzlement, patronage, fraudulent sale of state assets, and the kickbacks from badly and illegally negotiated overcharged contracts for projects that never finish—the scandals surrounding ONA and the Petrocaribe funds are a case in point.

Problem statement

We all know that public corruption engenders the misallocation of funds and levies originally intended for critical community initiatives. As a result, there is a manifestation of substandard services, inadequate infrastructure, or stagnant project initiation. The inherent susceptibility of access rights to public resources to corruption requires implementing measures to ensure security. We start tackling the problem by asking, how does poor resource allocation and management by design incubate more corruption? What are the primary factors that contribute to corrupt behavior? Who is responsible for implementing the legal and regulatory frameworks? Who among the state agencies is responsible for addressing these concerns? In what ways are these issues affecting the country? How do we turn the current version of transparency around decisions for the state into our understanding of transparency? What processes can be better used for best practices? How do we leverage technology and long-term innovative ideas to address corruption? What role can non-profit organizations and think tank committees like HAMREC play in tackling corruption? While we recognize that all these questions cannot be answered in a few pages of a case analysis paper, we will strive to propose solutions relevant to our current environment. 

Possible Solutions

Making a dent in slowing the complex phenomenon of corruption in Haiti involves selling the solutions differently. A realistic goal recognizes that there is no such thing as eradication of corruption. However, some countries in the world have attained the level of less scandalous exploitation of state resources. That is what we should aim for to have any semblance of success.

Anticorruption measures inherently originate from grassroots initiatives. New ideas in that sphere are only meaningful with effective leadership to propel their implementation. We all agree that Haiti needs to build solid institutions with ethical leadership and robust anticorruption mechanisms. We encourage public participation in governance and decision-making processes. Getting out the vote at the grassroots level is an integral part of this solution. We champion enhancing transparency and accountability in government processes and financial transactions.

Organizational culture – In his dissertation, Dr. Dwinell Jean-Louis proposed that If an organization has a strong culture, everyone in the company will make choices and act similarly and predictably. The importance of organizational culture comes from the fact that establishing a set of assumptions and beliefs gives members of the organization a frame of reference for how they see, understand, and act. Culture is a broad-scope term.

Here we are referencing the

Compliance training -- Compliance training addressing corruption is widely recognized as crucial in deterring and counteracting corrupt practices within various private organizational contexts globally. A training program's primary objective is to educate government employees and stakeholders regarding the legal framework, regulations, and ethical principles associated with corruption. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of complying with anti-corruption policies. Customized training programs can be developed to specifically target the unique risks and issues the Haitian government encounters. This measure aims to enhance the comprehension of corruption manifestations in the daily tasks of public sector employees. Establishing a culture that fosters ethical behavior and upholds integrity is beneficial. An essential course component includes interactive features like case studies, real-life scenarios, quizzes, and conversations. These aspects actively engage participants and enhance their comprehension and recall of the information. The program instructs employees to recognize and resolve ethical predicaments that may arise in their respective professional capacities.

This article aims to help in making ethical decisions and seeking appropriate help in situations of uncertainty. An efficacious compliance training program constitutes merely a component of a more comprehensive anti-corruption strategy. It is imperative to establish explicit incentives to promote compliance with anti-corruption measures, as well as unambiguous repercussions for any infractions that may occur.

To enhance its effectiveness, the initiative must be accompanied by comprehensive anti-corruption measures, stringent internal monitoring mechanisms, periodic evaluations of potential risks, and a corporate culture that fosters openness and adherence to ethical principles across all hierarchical levels within the firm.

Asset recovery -- The elephant in the room is the recovery of stolen state assets. The United States and Canada have publicly initiated sanctions against former government officials and private individuals. It is an excellent first step. It is mind-boggling for one individual to allegedly embezzle $60 Million in a poor country like Haiti. The exact amount could pay the salary of 4000 police officers at $500 monthly over ten years. This money can build 2 teaching hospitals and a maximum-security prison, and there would be enough left to rebuild the national palace.

At HAMREC, we fully embrace our international partners in their effort to impose sanctions on assets acquired through corrupt means. Our feeble institutions need help. However, collaboration with regional actors is only part of the solution. Haiti must strengthen its diplomatic missions to prosecute criminals and recover assets in foreign countries. But, first and foremost, we must implement preventative measures to win the battle.

Ethics in school curricula --- Before the 90s, primary education consisted of many courses geared to form the character of the young Haitian. Some of us took Latin, Greek, Politesse, and Civics classes. During those years, the country was highly conservative, and there was strict guidance and control of life in Haiti. Rural peasants lived out in the countryside while they sent their kids to the cities to get an education. Life was good. Teaching and learning were good, especially in religious-affiliated schools. Kids were prepared to become responsible citizens—many who migrated to the US and Canada still bear the fruits of that curriculum.

Today, our society degraded to the point where everything is so perverse that it's not worth mentioning in this article.

Social ethics are intertwined with having a civic sense. It is not too far-fetched to blame gang activities on the lack of proper primary education. In civics classes, the students learned about the most essential aspects of government and the processes that operate inside them. Civics classes also included ethics, morals, and respect for the country. The students are tested on what they have learned about the three branches of government: Executive, legislative, and judiciary. They also learned the value of the flag and honoring the homeland.

The nation needs more leadership, ethical principles, and civic engagement in private and public domains. These are organizational elements that may be addressed with a grassroots approach. Therefore, promoting civics education and awareness programs to empower citizens with knowledge of their rights and responsibilities is of the utmost value.

Cell phone Applications – when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007 as a communication device, one thing that helped its wild success was that many new applications helped drive the economy. Many new ideas originate, for the most part, in app creation. These innovations have helped revolutionize many aspects of social and economic lives globally. Nowadays, there is an app for almost anything imaginable.  

For instance, to curb corruption, Guatemalans have been using four leading apps since 2013 to significant effect. In Brazil, tech-savvy civil servants working for law enforcement agencies and concerned citizens with tech skills have customized AI-based anti-corruption technology to take over the critical tasks of mining and cross-checking large datasets. The goal is to monitor, find, report, and predict risks and flag suspicions of clear-cut illegal cases. Corruption in important government tasks, especially public spending, is the focus.

There are so many talented Haitian individuals everywhere in the world who can write robust applications against corruption in less than one month, given the right tools and access to open data.

Recommended Solution

Digital Transformation of Haitian government operations – Any Strategy to reduce corruption in Haiti must revolve around a culture of proper ethics and innovation. Delivery of any solution starts by putting into place a realistic technology & communication framework. has published a guide that explains it all.

Twenty-three years ago, Chile launched an electronic public market and bidding platform that links procurement bodies and suppliers from bids to awards. It was a way for the government to improve openness, accountability, and corruption risk by posting contracts online. It was a national provider registry—an official, centralized computerized registration of all contractors and subcontractors. The online observatory helps track and analyzes procurement data for stakeholders. Chile is still enjoying its success, with millions saved yearly for the government and taxpayers.

HAMREC suggested approach is a strategic method facilitated by digital infrastructure. We want to use technology to manage and regulate resources in a novel manner effectively. This encompasses many technological tools such as artificial intelligence, machine language, the Internet of Things, and accounting and finance concepts focused on meticulous financial management.

There is a pressing need for enhanced analytics and algorithms to optimize operations effectively, particularly in aiding independent institutions in pursuing more accurate fraud detection. The coordination of activities among all governmental entities tasked with the collection and allocation of funds is crucial.

Furthermore, these advancements should enable the already weak institutions to prosecute suspects successfully by providing them with irrefutable evidence.

We are conscious that a digital strategy might fail due to poor infrastructure. Digital technology and information flow need a stable physical underlying framework. High-speed internet is essential. Law officials may need help accessing digital services and platforms in places with weak or restricted internet connectivity, limiting digital technology adoption.

A UNDP report discusses how state institutions are more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches with weak infrastructure. Automation and optimized processes need infrastructure that might cause operational inefficiencies, manual interventions, and higher expenses, offsetting the advantages of digitalization. Digital technology-savvy professionals may need to be made available. This skills mismatch might impair digital strategy execution. We need people and creative skills to power innovation.

Part of the plan is to Increase broadband access, data centers, cybersecurity, and digital literacy to solve these issues. Addressing infrastructure gaps helps implement digital strategy and exploit digital revolution possibilities. Digitalization works by improving government processes in Haiti, leveraging digital technologies and sound investments. It is a mammoth task that requires research and partnership with an on-the-ground collection of data and analytics.

The initiative encompasses several dimensions, including governance, fiscal revenue, operations, measurements, and parliamentary immunity. The scope of the solution should be sufficiently comprehensive to include both the entry and exit points of every penny in government revenue.

Possible Outcomes

Lack of leadership and ethical values, absence of an administrative mechanism for effective management, and zero sense of civism permeate the entire country in private and public spheres. All of which can lead to failed institutions. These are organizational aspects that can be tackled from the bottom up. To uncover and discourage resource abuse by public officials, a whistleblower protection, independent audits, and adequate supervision by civil society, the media, and other government organizations are crucial. Haiti can cultivate enhanced transparency, accountability, and civic participation by implementing measures to combat corruption and promoting heightened knowledge among the general populace. This, in turn, may contribute to advancing development characterized by inclusivity and equity.

A failed state is a country with no functioning state institutions. Haiti is now characterized as a failed state on the brink of collapse. According to Robert Rotberg, a scholar from the Bookings Institution, a collapsed state might be seen as an infrequent and severe manifestation of a failed state. He believes that while the existence of a deteriorated or collapsed society is indeed factual, it is not necessarily unchanging in nature. The author posits that each nation has the potential to overcome a state of collapse and ultimately achieve success.

Robust governance procedures, transparency, and accountability measures are essential for preventing and addressing corruption. A digital infrastructure might help with data collecting and analytics. A digitized Haitian government will quickly provide the data when citizens demand access to public information and financial reports to understand how government resources are allocated and spent. What is published in Le Moniteur needs to be more reliable. Laws on the books should allow citizens to request and obtain relevant data. Data analytics and independent audits can serve as practical supervisory tools if appropriately implemented to uncover and discourage resource abuse by public officials.

We need help to innovate and tackle corruption effectively. Since HAMREC's mission is to root out misuse of resources, we advocate to have all relevant information be freely shared. Our goal is to prevent waste and to promote a culture that is becoming less tolerant of corruption. Any failure to establish administrative mechanisms for efficient governance will no doubt result in the disappearance or further degradation of our institutions.



Dr. Belizaire Vital is a co-founding member of HAMREC, currently volunteering as Director of Research, Analytics, and Informatics.

Mr. Paul E Villard is a Haitian attorney and former Prosecutor for the Jurisdiction of Port-Au-Prince.

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