Deadly Attack on the Croix-des-Bouquets Prison and Other Insecurity

by Thomas
Péralte (Haiti Liberte)
Heavily armed
bandits in a gray Daihatsu Terios without license plates fired on the civilian
prison in Croix des Bouquets on Mon., Feb. 17, 2014 at around 8:00 p.m.,
killing a policeman, Sadrac Nicolas, an Agent 2 officer in the National Prison
Administration (APENA).
            The attack occurred when Off.
Nicolas approached the vehicle because it was parked in a dark area near the
prison. The assailants opened fire on the policeman, who died at the scene, and
also aimed bursts of fire at the prison.
            According to preliminary reports,
the policeman’s gun was found at his side. An investigation was conducted by
the forensic police, who quickly arrived at the scene. Already, several
witnesses have been identified. No prisoner escaped, said the Secretary of
State for Public Security, Reginald Delva, who also said that more than 750
prisoners are incarcerated in the prison.
            Businessman Clifford Brandt, the
alleged leader of a powerful gang of kidnappers which was dismantled in October
2012, is among the inmates at this high security prison. Among the other
prominent prisoners is Emane “Jacques” Jean-Louis, the owner of Sourire Rent a
Car, who has been jailed at the prison since September 2013 on charges of money
laundering. (Mr. Jean-Louis claims he was a victim of a police kidnapping in
April 2012 and had filed a suit against the police.)
            It remains unclear what is behind
this incident, which comes at a time when Haitians are denouncing the
distribution of weapons to people close to the government of President Michel
Martelly and a marked uptick in violent crime around the country. Is this a
strategy to distract attention from the failure of the so-called “institutional
and political dialogue” led by the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarch? Is this an
attempt to force the release or transfer of prominent prisoners like Mr. Brandt
and Mr. Jean-Louis? Time will tell if the investigation of this crime will join
the many others that are classified as “the investigation continues.”
            In Carrefour Feuilles, a
neighborhood in the east flank of the capital, in the area of Fort Mercredi, on
Wednesday, Feb. 14, policemen killed three people, including a woman, according
to area residents. The victims were Jean Renaud, his girlfriend, and a man
known only as Ti Pikan.
            On Tue., Feb. 18, two students,
Johnny Charmant, 20, and Marc-André Louis, 22, were killed in the area of the
capital’s Upper Turgeau neighborhood, near Cité Georges, as they were on their
way to the Oswald Durand school, located in downtown Port-au-Prince. They were
apparently the accidental victims of crossfire between two armed groups in the
area. The grieving relatives of the two young men are demanding justice.
            Following such events, many people
are complaining about the growing insecurity in Haiti. Bank customers are often
victims of thugs who don’t hesitate to rob them as they are leaving the bank or
follow them on their way home. Robbers often kill their victims after robbing
them. This is apparently what happened to the general coordinator of the
Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH), Daniel Dorsinvil, 48,
and his wife, Girldy Larèche, 46, who were both shot to death in Port-au-Prince
on Feb. 8. He had just come from a bank branch.
            In Hinche, on the Central Plateau,
the father of four children and a currency trader, Tevnor Gauthier, 41,was
killed by gunmen on Wed., Feb. 12, 2014, at the entrance to his currency
exchange office. Six bandits on two motorcycles armed with 9mm pistols attacked
him. According to his relatives, the gunmen fired at close range and fled with
the suitcase he was carrying.
            “They made off with several
thousand U.S. dollars, gourdes and also packets of European currency,”
said one relative. Shot several times, Mr. Gauthier was rushed to St. Thérèse
Hospital in Hinche but succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards.
            According to a report from the
National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), released on Feb. 4,
the climate of violence is closely linked to the impunity that reigns supreme
in Haiti since President Michel Martelly and his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe
came to power. Between January and December 2013, at least 870 people died
violently, an average of 73 people per month. Some 711 were killed by guns, 96
by knives,  and 63 by stoning, the report

            Impunity is now protected by the
government. The Martelly government gives unconditional support to former
dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, even while there is an on-going criminal
investigation against him for embezzlement and crimes against humanity. Others
close to the Martelly government, including drug traffickers and those sought
because of their involvement in wrongdoing, also benefit from the official
tolerance of impunity and the climate of violence it begets.