Haiti: Armed violence reaches ‘unimaginable and intolerable levels’

Armed violence has reached unimaginable and unbearable levels in Haiti“, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet saand calls on the Haitian authorities, with the support of the international community, to immediately restore the rule of law and protect people from the fighting.

Downward situation

Between April 24 and May 16, at least 92 people unrelated to gangs and about 96 alleged gang members were reportedly killed during coordinated armed attacks in the vast capital of Haiti.

A further 113 were injured, 12 were reported missing and 49 were abducted for ransom, according to figures confirmed by UN human rights officials – although the actual number killed could be much higher.

It is crucial that urgent measures are taken to restore the rule of lawto protect people from armed violence and to hold the political and economic sponsors of these gangs accountable, ”Bachelet stressed.

Cruel brutality

Part of the brutal violence includes beheading, burning and dismemberment, along with the killing of minors accused of being informants of rival gangs.

Sexual violence, including gang rape of children as young as 10, has also been used by armed gang members to terrorize and punish people living in rival-controlled areas, according to the United Nations Office on Human Rights (OHCHR). Recruits of child gangs have also been reported.

Risky effects of violence

Over the past three weeks, thousands of people, including children, have been forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in temporary places or host families in other parts of the country.

“Gang violence has had a serious impact on people’s most basic human rights,” he said.

Dozens of schools, health centers, businesses and markets remain closed, and many people are struggling to find basic products including food, water and medicine.

Roads coordinated

At the same time, the movement along the two main roads that connect the capital with the rest of the country has been seriously jeopardized as gangs exercise control in areas under their influence.

“Such restrictions on the movement of people and goods can also have long-lasting devastating effects on the already difficult economic situation in Haiti,” Bachelet said.

Thoughts of lawlessness

She also explained that the fragility of state institutions, especially the police and the judiciary, has fueled lawlessness, and expressed fears that violence will only escalate as ongoing police operations have not yet restored public order.

In addition, there have been reports of certain human rights violations during these operations.

Gang violence has had a serious impact on people’s most basic human rights – UN Commissioner for Human Rights

“Government institutions need to be strengthened to fight impunity and corruption,” she said.

“The authorities have a duty to protect the lives of all reasonably foreseeable threats, including from threats from individuals and entities, such as armed criminal gangs.”

Do not forget Haiti

Despite its many and long-standing challenges, the High Commissioner said: “Haiti should not be forgotten and should remain a priority for the international community.”

“I urge the international community to redouble its efforts to prevent the situation from spiraling further out of control,” she said.

In the coming weeks, the UN will come Safety advice will discuss the future mandate of the UN presence in Haiti.

It is extremely important that Haitians’ human rights are at the heart of the international response, including on issues related to sexual and gender-based violence, Bachelet concluded.

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