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Vigilante justice movement ‘Bwa Kale’ leads to decline in gang violence in Haiti, says Human Rights Report


Posted: Sunday, May 28, 2023. 6:57 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: According to a recent report by local human rights research group CARDH, the surge of a vigilante justice movement, “Bwa Kale,” has significantly reduced gang violence in Haiti. The report estimates a drastic fall in gang-related activities, including a drop in the number of suspected criminals killed, which stood at 160 over the past month.

Despite this decrease, the Caribbean nation remains in a state of high tension. Armed gangs continue to fuel a humanitarian crisis, resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of people and triggering frequent cases of ransom kidnappings, gang rapes, tortures, and murders.

The “Bwa Kale” movement took root in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital when residents lynched and burned more than a dozen alleged gang members on April 24. The CARDH report highlights a significant decline in the number of recorded kidnappings in the past month and a decrease in gang-linked murders, from 146 in the first three weeks of April to 43.

While refusing to pass a value judgment on the vigilante justice movement, CARDH acknowledged the visible outcomes of “Bwa Kale,” stating that fear has shifted sides, causing a dramatic reduction in kidnappings and gang-related killings.

CARDH estimates that armed gangs now control 60% of Port-au-Prince, with the majority of vigilante killings, including lynchings, stonings, beatings, and burnings, occurring within the city.

The emergence of “Bwa Kale” is linked to the harsh cruelty of the gangs, the inefficiency of the government and law enforcement agencies, and the lack of international intervention, according to CARDH. The Haitian government and national police have yet to respond to the report.

Despite the Haitian government’s request for international assistance in strengthening its police force last October, global powers have been reluctant to back Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s unelected administration. Henry has argued that conducting fair elections is not feasible under current levels of insecurity.

CARDH’s report urges increased support for Haiti’s under-equipped police force, including the provision of armored trucks, drones, helicopters, weapons, and ammunition. It emphasizes the need for authorities and civilians to cooperate in combating gangs to prevent a vicious cycle of escalating retaliation. The report also recommends studying the psychological impact of this situation on future generations, as most vigilante group members comprise young people and children.


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