Kidnappings Triple in Aftermath of Assassination of Haiti’s President
(Bloomberg) -- Kidnappings in Haiti have tripled as organized crime flourishes in the chaos left by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and a devastating earthquake.
Haiti’s Centre for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, a non-profit think tank, said 117 people were taken hostage in September -- up from 31 in July, the month Moise was killed.
From January through September, the organization recorded 628 kidnappings, according to its latest report released Thursday.
As gangs fill the power vacuum left by the weak state -- taking control of ports, highways and entire neighborhoods -- Haiti has become one of the world’s kidnapping capitals, with a higher per-capita rate than Mexico and Colombia. Gang violence is also a major obstacle to Haiti’s economic recovery and political stability, Daniel Foote, the former White House special envoy for Haiti, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday.
“Kidnapping for ransom has become part of the society,” Foote said. “Women and men are afraid to leave their homes to go shopping, to go out at night.”
Foote said Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is now “run” by gangs.
“They are better equipped and better armed than the police,” he said. “They control the main highways and transit routes.”
Foote resigned his post last month in protest over the U.S. administration’s decision to deport thousands of Haitians from the Mexico-Texas border -- a move Foote said was “inhumane” given Haiti’s insecurity, the assassination of Moise in July and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August.
Many Haitians believe the insecurity makes the prospect of free and transparent elections impossible in the near term. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has said he wants to hold a general election in 2022.
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