NEW: Killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence by criminal groups in and around Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, have surged since the start of 2023.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) August 14, 2023
Haiti sounds like my kinda town.
Human rights abuses in Haiti are soaring while the Haitian state is almost nonexistent and unable to protect its people from the brutality of armed gangs, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned in a new report.
Rival criminal factions now have such a tight grip over the country that international security forces could be necessary to restore order, the rights groups said.
HRW investigators documented 67 recent killings by armed gangs in its report, Living a Nightmare, including the murders of 11 children and 12 women. It also verified more than 20 cases of rape – many of them committed by multiple perpetrators to sow terror among the population.
“Urgent action is needed to address the extreme levels of violence and the palpable fear, hunger and sense of abandonment that so many Haitians experience today,” said Nathalye Cotrino, crisis and conflict researcher at HRW.
Haiti has fallen into chaos since president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in 2021 and gangs began grabbing control of the country in bloody turf wars.
Harrowing human rights violations have become commonplace, 4.9 million people cannot regularly get enough food to eat, and cholera has returned amid the conflict.
Criminal groups have killed at least 2,000 people and kidnapped more than 1,000 in the first half of 2023, according to the UN.
The rights body verified accounts of gruesome killings in its interviews, the use of sexual violence as a weapon, and the practice of dismembering of bodies with machetes and setting corpses alight to intimidate rivals.
“They rape us because they are in control, because they have guns, because there is nobody to defend us. There is no police or state,” a survivor of sexual violence in the sprawling Port-au-Prince slum of Cité Soleil told the rights body.
This is, we should note, definitely and categorically “not a shithole.”
Not a shithole.
Go ask Conan O’Brien. He went there to a beach resort and he knows for a fact that it is not a shithole.
Haiti in 1804: “Let’s kill all the whites who would have turned our side of the island into a paradise!”
Haiti today: pic.twitter.com/jMUHNUWawn
— Brian in WI (@CheeseheadBrian) August 8, 2023