Violence, impunity, corruption: the crisis “has further worsened” in Haiti (UN)

Escalation of gang violence, "generalized" impunity, "endemic" corruption

Violence, impunity, corruption: the crisis “has further worsened” in Haiti (UN)

Escalation of gang violence, "generalized" impunity, "endemic" corruption... The crisis in Haiti has "further worsened" over the past year, the UN Secretary General warned on Wednesday, calling for "international support solid".

“The multifaceted crisis that Haiti is going through, marked above all by organized gang violence, has further worsened since the establishment of the sanctions regime” in October 2022, which for the moment only targets a gang leader , writes Antonio Guterres in a document published Wednesday.

This report comes as members of the Security Council are negotiating the mandate of an international force requested for a year by Port-au-Prince to support the outdated police, a non-UN mission of which Kenya must take the lead.

For a year, the violence of the gangs, which have tightened their grip on the capital and beyond, "has become even more intense and more brutal", describes Antonio Guterres, describing the rapes used as a weapon of terror, the snipers on the roofs or people burned alive, but also the emergence in the spring of a self-defense movement.

In total, nearly 2,800 murders were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023, including nearly 80 targeting minors, according to the report. The number of kidnappings for ransom, probably underestimated, has also increased with nearly 1,500 cases over the past year.

This violence "is fueled by arms and ammunition trafficking", mainly from the United States, and "by illicit financial flows", denounces the Secretary General.

As a result, “the members of armed gangs are more numerous and better armed” than the approximately 14,000 police officers counted at the end of June 2023. And “the gangs use larger caliber weapons and more sophisticated equipment”.

Faced with this situation, more than 5% of the workforce left the police in the first half of the year.

Beyond the violence itself, the report deplores that “impunity remains a widespread problem”. Several emblematic cases, including the assassination of the last president Jovenel Moïse two years ago, are not progressing and the security of judges is a problem.

And “corruption remains endemic” in all sectors of the state, from bribery to embezzlement, not forgetting money laundering.

In a clogged judicial system, the situation in prisons has also deteriorated, with an average surface area of ​​0.3 m2 for each of the 11,800 detainees (including 9,950 in pre-trial detention).

“The stabilization of security conditions in Haiti will require solid international support, not only for the national police to restore security, but also for the prison services, the judicial system, customs controls and border management,” insisted Antonio Guterres. All accompanied by “adequate” financing.

09/27/2023 22:16:11 -       United Nations (United States) (AFP) -       ©2023 AFP