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Haiti human rights group warns kidnappings and killings are on the rise after brief respite

  • As the United Nations Security Council convened to address Haiti’s escalating violence, a prominent human rights group in the country raised concerns about a surge in killings and kidnappings.
  • The National Human Rights Defense Network issued a report on Thursday, condemning the government’s inaction in the face of worsening violence.
  • Haiti’s National Police force is facing significant challenges due to inadequate funding, limited resources, and the overwhelming power of gangs, which have gained strength since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

A leading human rights group in Haiti warned about an upsurge in killings and kidnappings as the U.N. Security Council prepared to meet Friday about the country’s worsening violence.

The National Human Rights Defense Network also condemned what it called the government’s inaction in a report dated Thursday.

It noted that from May 1 to July 12, at least 75 people were killed and another 40 abducted. Among those killed are an attorney, a schoolboy, two morticians and at least six police officers. Those kidnapped include a female journalist from Radio Vision 2000 who was later released. Her husband, the former president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council, is still being held by gang members since his abduction in mid-June.

Gangs also are accused of breaking into a hospital in the community of Canaan in northern Port-au-Prince, stealing medical supplies and abducting at least six security guards. In addition, armed criminals last month set fire to the building that housed the Jamaican consulate in Haiti.

The violence recently forced Doctors Without Borders to suspend treatment at one of their hospitals in Port-au-Prince after the group said some 20 armed men burst into an operating room and abducted a patient.


A police officer pats down a motorcyclist at a checkpoint in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 1, 2023.  (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)


Earlier this year, the human rights group said that kidnappings and killings had diminished amid a violent uprising targeting suspected gang members, but noted that gangs have since resumed their attacks.

The group urged authorities to dismantle all armed gangs and restore order and security.

Haiti’s National Police is under-funded, under resourced and largely overpowered by gangs who have grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and are now estimated to control up to 80% of Port-au-Prince. The department has only some 9,000 active duty officers for a country of more than 11 million people.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has insisted on an international force to help Haiti’s National Police, with one U.N. expert estimating that Haiti needs up to 2,000 additional anti-gang police officers.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested the urgent deployment of such a force in October, but the U.N. Security Council so far has opted to impose sanctions on gang members and others.

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