Haiti Declares State Of Emergency After Thousands Escape Prison Amid Increased Gang Violence

The government of Haiti has declared a 72-hour state of emergency in response to a violent weekend, during which violent gangs attacked two prisons and enabled the escape of nearly 3,600 inmates.

A state of emergency has been declared in Haiti, specifically in the country’s Western Department, which includes the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The announcement, made on Sunday, states that curfews will be in effect from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. until at least Wednesday.

Armed gangs launched attacks on two of the largest prisons in the capital and Croix-des-Bouquets on Saturday, resulting in casualties among the police force. In response to these incidents, the authorities have made the announcement.

According to human rights lawyer Arnel Remy, an estimated 100 out of the nearly 3,700 inmates incarcerated at the two facilities are still behind bars. Remy, who works with a nonprofit organization in the National Penitentiary, shared this information on X.

“Increasingly violent criminal acts perpetrated by armed gangs,” the government said, have led to a “degradation” in security in the capital. These crimes include kidnappings, murder, violence against women and children, theft, and looting of public property.

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There has been unrest in the capital since Thursday, and the report says that it is “causing massive population displacements.”

After the attack on the capital prison, the police union asked all officers with cars and guns to help protect the building. In a statement released on Saturday, the union said, “No one will be spared in the capital because there will be 3,000 extra bandits now effective.”

The union said on Friday that there had been several killings in downtown Port-au-Prince.

“Students and merchants are running in all directions like crazy ants,” it said, asking the Haitian National Police to send all of their officers to get things back under control.

Haiti is used to violence, but it has been a lot worse since July 2021, when its president, Jovenel Moise, was killed at home.

When the attacks on the prisons happened, Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya trying to get backing for a UN police force for Haiti.

Barbecue, the gang boss of the Haitian group Jimmy Cherizier, who used to be a police officer, seems to be taking credit for the recent increase in violence.

CNN reports that he said on Friday that the fighting would go on until Henry was removed from office.

“We ask the Haitian National Police and the military to take responsibility and arrest Ariel Henry. Once again, the population is not our enemy; the armed groups are not your enemy. You arrest Ariel Henry for the country’s liberation,” he said.

“With these weapons, we will liberate the country and these weapons will change the country.”

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