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HomeNewsRegional NewsHaiti vigilante push ‘symptomatic’ of state’s failures: Advocates

Haiti vigilante push ‘symptomatic’ of state’s failures: Advocates


Rights advocates say vigilante killings are response to unchecked Haitian gang violence, but not a long-term solution.


(Al Jazeera) – Gedeon Jean describes it as a “collective awakening”.

Over the past several weeks, groups of Haitian citizens armed with machetes, sticks and other makeshift weapons have banded together to root out suspected gang members and try to end the killings, rapes and kidnappings destroying their communities.

The Centre d’analyse et de recherche en droits de l’homme (CARDH) rights group that Jean leads said suspects have been “chased, beaten, decapitated and then burned alive” by members of the grassroots vigilante movement – dubbed “Bwa Kale”, or “peeled wood” in Haitian Creole.

At least 160 suspected gang members were killed between April 24 and May 24, CARDH said in a report this month, and as a result, Haiti has seen “a dramatic decrease” in kidnappings, killings and other forms of violence linked to the armed groups.

However, Jean said while the movement has had “considerable” effects, it does not present a long-term solution to the violence gripping the Caribbean nation of about 12 million people. Instead, he said Haitian state institutions must be reinforced and take responsibility for protecting citizens.

“We’re in a situation in which the population has to defend itself,” Jean, CARDH’s executive director, told Al Jazeera in a phone interview. “Bwa Kale is symptomatic of the collapse of the state,” he said.

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