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Proposed UN resolution would punish top Haitian gang leader

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council is negotiating a resolution that would impose an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on influential Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, nicknamed “Barbeque.”

It would also target other Haitian individuals and groups engaged in actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, according to text obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.

The US-drafted resolution names Cherizier, a former police officer who leads an alliance of Haitian gangs known as the “G9 Family and Allies.” But it would set up a Security Council committee to designate other Haitians and groups to be blacklisted and also subject to sanctions.

The motion for a resolution expresses “great concern at the extremely high levels of gang violence and other criminal activity, including kidnappings, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, and murders, and sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and sexual slavery, as well as continued impunity for perpetrators , corruption and gang recruitment of children and the implications of Haiti’s situation for the region.”

The Security Council has moved a meeting on Haiti to Monday due to the increasingly dire situation in the country.

Daily life in Haiti began to spiral out of control last month, just hours after Prime Minister Ariel Henry said fuel subsidies would be abolished, causing prices to double. Gangs blocked access to the Varreux fuel terminal, leading to a serious fuel shortage at a time when clean water is also scarce and the country is battling a deadly cholera outbreak.

The motion for a resolution says: “Cherizier and his G9 gang confederation are actively blocking the free movement of fuel from the Varreux fuel terminal – the largest in Haiti.”

“His actions have contributed directly to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti,” it says.

In a video posted to Facebook last week, Cherizier called on the government to grant amnesty to him and G9 members and to withdraw all arrest warrants against them. He said in Creole that Haiti’s economic and social situation is deteriorating by the day, so “there is no better time than today to dismantle the system.”

He outlined a transition plan to restore order in Haiti. It would include establishing a Council of Wise Men with one representative from each of Haiti’s 10 departments to run the country with an interim president until presidential elections could be held in February 2024. It also calls for restructuring of Haiti’s National Police and strengthening of the military.

“The country is facing one crisis after another,” Cherizier said. “During all these crises, the first victims are the population, the people in the ghettos, the farmers.”

Haiti is in the grip of an inflationary vice that is putting pressure on its people and exacerbating protests that have brought society to the breaking point. The violence rages and scares parents into sending their children to school. Hospitals, banks and supermarkets are struggling to stay open.

The president of the neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, recently described the situation as a “low-intensity civil war.” His government is cracking down on Haitians migrating to the Dominican Republic.

Political instability has continued to simmer since the still-unsolved assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last year, which faced opposition protests calling for his resignation over corruption charges and claiming his five-year term had expired. . Moïse dissolved parliament in January 2020 after lawmakers failed to hold elections in 2019 amid a political deadlock.

Last week, Haiti’s prime minister and 18 senior officials called for “the immediate deployment of a specialized force, in sufficient quantities” by international partners to stop the “criminal actions” of armed gangs across the country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a letter to the Security Council on Sunday calling for the deployment of a rapid-action force by one or more UN member states to assist Haiti’s national police.

That force would “eliminate the threat of armed gangs and provide immediate protection to critical infrastructure and services”, as well as ensure the “free movement of water, fuel, food and medical supplies from key ports and airports to communities and healthcare facilities.” ,” he said.

The draft resolution takes note of Guterres’ letter, welcomes Haiti’s appeal and encourages “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force” to support the Haitian National Police, as recommended by the Secretary General.

US officials said Wednesday that the Biden administration will provide security and humanitarian aid to Haiti and will revoke visas for current and former government officials involved in gangs.

Associated Press writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

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