34-year-old Jacques Yves Sebastien Duroseau told investigators he wanted to “defeat the thugs that have been creating a little bit of part of the instability in Haiti” and become its new president.
According to prosecutors, beginning in April 2019, Duroseau worked with a partner, identified as T.H., to procure fake deployment orders. When the pair arrived in Port au Prince, they were carrying two suitcases full of illegal firearms and a third filled with illegal ammunition. The fake deployment orders covered the weapons, but not the rifle scopes and body armor that the pair also carried. T.H. also failed to secure the proper export documents. When detained and questioned, Duroseau said he planned to manipulate Haiti’s police force into supporting a future presidential run.
“Duroseau, who previously held a position of trust within the Marine Corps, betrayed his service and deserves to be held accountable for his illicit attempt to smuggle weapons from the United States to Haiti for the purpose of training the Haitian military,” remarked Special Agent Sean Devinny of the NCIS.
To understand why Haiti has had such a hard time recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake, it is necessary to look at the country’s troubled history.
The island of Hispaniola is almost literally a tale of two cities. For the eastern Domician Republic, it is the best of times. Its government is a stable, representative democracy, and it has one of the largest economies in the region. The Spanish, who originally ruled the D.R., did a reasonably good job of overseeing the country and preparing the people for self-government.
Then there is Haiti. For the most part, a series of strongmen have ruled this country with little or no input from its people. Furthermore, according to most measurements, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
The French, who originally ruled Haiti, exploited the land and its people. When independence came, Haiti had almost no natural resources and no governmental institutions. Things went from bad to worse when a squadron of French warships arrived and demanded a large ransom, which the fledgling government reluctantly paid.
So, post-earthquake Haiti is dominated by a rather uncaring government, ruthless local warlords, and desperate people. As a result, 10 years after the earthquake, many Haitians still live in tents. Since these people have essentially no voice in their own government, violent protests are not unusual. And, much foreign aid goes to local warlords instead of the people who need it.
In short, post-earthquake Haiti desperately needs security and infrastructure. These two ingredients are necessary for a recovery, and private military contractors provide them.
Contractors in Haiti
Under American law, armed contractors may only serve in a defensive capacity. This restriction comes from the 19th-century Anti-Pinkerton Act, which prohibited government use of paramilitary organizations. The Anti-Pinkerton Act has been technically overruled for the most part, but its spirit still infuses American law.
Defensive operations take many forms. In Haiti, this mission usually means deterrence. Many private military contractors are former law enforcement officers. So, contractors know how to deter evildoers without antagonizing locals or adding fuel to a smoldering fire.
Intelligence gathering is another important component of contractor work in Haiti. Once again, the former law enforcement aspect comes into play. Law enforcement officers are used to interviewing witnesses, searching property if they have probable cause, and knowing the difference between valuable information and useless chatter. These abilities help save American lives and protect American property.
Finally, contractors often work directly for the Haitan government. These contractors might also be eligible for Defense Base Act benefits if they are injured in any way related to their deployment. More on that below.
Speaking of American property, armed contractors in Haiti also do things like guard embassies and consulates. Yes, these facilities already have armed guards to protect them. But these guards do not have much experience in unstable areas like Haiti. Only contractors have the expertise and flexibility to respond to different kinds of threats.
American property interests usually include construction projects. Armed security contractors protect these installations, as well as the people who work there, whether they are American or Haitian. Contractors are there to protect people, not to examine passports.
Injury Compensation Available
Injured contractors, whether they are U.S. residents or foreign nationals, are usually eligible for no-fault benefits through the Defense Base Act. This 1941 law protects injured contractors whether they work for the Department of Defense, the State Department, or any other U.S. government agency. Additionally, contractors who work for some sympathetic foreign governments are also eligible for benefits.
Injured contractors must immediately report their injuries to their supervisors. In trauma injury cases, such as falls or gunshot wounds, this requirement is usually not a problem. Occupational diseases, such as toxic exposure or DRLD (Deployment-Related Lung Disease) are a different story.
Most people do not immediately go to the doctor the first time they have mild chest pains or have trouble breathing. And, once their illnesses are diagnosed, they might not immediately connect their illnesses to their work as private military contractors.
A variation of the delayed discovery rule normally applies in these situations. Injured victims do not need to begin the process until they know the full extent of their injuries and they connect those injuries to a deployment-related event.
Rather early in the claims process, a third-party mediator meets with the victim’s attorney and insurance company and tries to forge a settlement agreement. Occasionally, this mediation is successful. But much more often than not, things go to the next level.
This next level is usually a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. During an ALJ hearing, which is much like a trial, attorneys can introduce evidence, challenge evidence, and make legal arguments. Therefore, victims have a much better chance of obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.
This compensation normally includes medical bill payment and lost wage replacement. Additional compensation might be available in some cases.
For more information about DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.