Friday, June 21, 2024

Haitian Vigilantes Kill 160 Gang Members, Halt Kidnappings in Past Month: Report

Photo by: Odelyn Joseph Community group members hold their machetes in Delmas district as they support the "Bwa Kale" movement, an initiative to fight gangs seeking to take control of their neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph
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The Washington Times

A vigilante group in Haiti has killed 160 people suspected of gang activity and halted kidnappings on the island since April, a Haitian civil society nonprofit says.

The vigilante movement, known as Bwa Kale, formed in late April, according to the Centre d’analyse et de recherche en droits de l’homme, or CARDH. (The group’s name roughly translates to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights.)

Most of the gang suspects were killed in Haiti’s West Department, where the capital of Port-Au-Prince is located.

Bwa Kale’s activities have resulted in no kidnappings taking place from April 24 to May 24, according to CARDH.

In addition, 43 gang-linked slayings occurred during the same period. CARDH said 146 gang murders were recorded between April 1 and April 23.

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

Bwa Kale began after a group of civilians lynched and burned more than a dozen suspected gang members on April 24, according to Reuters. The group is mainly made up of young people, including some children.

CARDH said Bwa Kale must be replaced by a permanent security solution to avoid brutal gang retaliations.

Gangs have controlled about 60% of Port-au-Prince since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July 2021.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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