Haiti: the executive declares a state of emergency in several areas in the face of gangs

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The Haitian executive power has declared a state of emergency for a period of one month in order to “restore the authority of the state” in areas controlled by gangs, the secretary of state for communication said on Thursday. .

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“The state of emergency is precisely to restore the authority of the State, guarantee the security of the territory and allow citizens to go about their activities freely,” Frantz Exantus told AFP.

The presidential decree establishing the state of emergency applies to three districts of the capital and a provincial communal section, controlled by the gangs, but the document indicates that the measure may extend to “all other identified red zones. by the Superior Council of the National Police ”.

“We don’t think it’s going to be the whole territory, but it can happen that two or three bandits try to control a portion of the territory. At that time, it will be up to the national police to identify these areas and apply measures to regain control of the entire territory, ”said the Secretary of State for Communication.

Declared for one month, the state of emergency can only be renewed once.

“There may be communication restrictions, traffic restrictions in these areas to allow the intervention of the authorities and restore security” detailed the member of the government.

The measure is motivated by the actions of armed gangs which “kidnap people for ransom, by declaring it openly, stealing and looting public and private property, and openly confronting the public security forces”, specifies the document dated March 16.

Since the fall, Haiti has witnessed an upsurge in kidnappings for ransom that indiscriminately affect the richest inhabitants, and the majority living below the poverty line.

A police operation, carried out on March 12 in a district of the capital that a gang uses as a place of sequestration of its victims, resulted in the death of four police officers and the loss of equipment.

While an armored vehicle was recovered by police on Tuesday evening, the bodies of officers killed and mutilated by gang members, who posted videos of their actions, are still in the neighborhood.

This situation fueled the anger of some police officers and their supporters who demonstrated several times in the capital during the week.

On Wednesday, police officers occupied a police station in the capital until they obtained the release of four officers they considered unjustly arrested.

“The government is calling for calm. It is true that the demands of the police and the population are fair, but that cannot be resolved in violence and provocation ”reacted Mr. Exantus.