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Haiti’s deadly vigilante movement sees gang violence decline – report

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PORT-AU-PRINCE (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Armed gang violence has declined “drastically” since the emergence of a vigilante justice movement that has seen at least 160 criminal suspects killed in the past month, according to a report by the local research group on crime. human rights CARDH. Sunday.

The situation in the Caribbean country remains highly volatile as heavily armed gangs continue to spearhead a humanitarian crisis that has displaced tens of thousands of people amid frequent kidnappings for ransom, gang rapes, torture and murder.

The vigilante movement, known as “Bwa Kale,” began after residents of the capital Port-au-Prince lynched and set fire to more than a dozen suspected gang members in the early morning of April 24.

CARDH said “hardly any” kidnappings had been recorded in the past month and counted 43 gang-related homicides, down from 146 in the first three weeks of April.

“Without making a value judgment, the ‘Bwa Kale’ movement has produced convincing and visible results in just one month; fear has changed sides,” CARDH said in the report. “Both gang-related kidnappings and homicides have dropped dramatically.”

Port-au-Prince, which CARDH estimates is now 60 percent controlled by armed gangs, is located in Haiti’s West Department, where most of its recorded vigilante killings have taken place – including lynchings, stoning, beatings and burnings.

Bwa Kale, CARDH said, likely emerged from the extreme cruelty inflicted by the gangs, the ineffectiveness of the government, police and military, and a lack of international action.

The government and Haiti National Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Haiti’s government called for “quick” international force help to bolster its police last October, but countries have been wary of backing the unelected government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who himself has said he will not they can hold fair elections in the current insecurity.

CARDH said Haiti police needed more concrete support such as armored trucks, drones, helicopters, weapons and ammunition.

He warned it was “essential” for authorities and civilians to work together to fight gangs and avoid a cycle of increasingly brutal retaliation, and recommended a study into the psychological impacts for future generations.

The vigilante groups are made up mostly of young people, including some children, he said.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland in Mexico City and Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince)