Police and gangs are intertwined structures

The presence of agents of the Haitian National Police (PNH) in the structure of the armed gangs that operate in the country is a reality that has been going on for years and is increasingly being denounced by human rights organizations and activists.

Between 40% and 60% of police officers have gang connections. This is, at least, what an investigation carried out by the Sant Karl Lévêque organization revealed last October. Some links that would affect the highest hierarchy of the police institution.

A circumstance that is evident, for example, in the use of police tactics by the gangs to carry out the kidnappings with which they are financed, also sometimes relying on information provided by members of the police force.

Known by all

“It is a situation that has existed for years. The question of the ‘gangsterization’ of the Police has been raised since the genesis of the body”, explained to EFE the lawyer and human rights activist Samuel Madistin, director of Je Klere (FJKL), an NGO that defends and promotes fundamental freedoms.

To explain the dimension of the problem, he paraphrased the words of Jean Victor Arvel Jean-Baptiste, chief inspector general of the Police between 2001 and 2002, under the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide (2001-2004): “There is no gang that works in the country that does not have at least one police officer. All the gangs that are well organized and structured in the country is because they have police officers”.

For the political scientist, “the ‘gangsterization’ of the Police is a very worrying problem, but it is not new.”

It is a known fact that “there are police officers who work with the gang leaders. The gangs are infiltrating the Police and not the other way around, ”he added.

The proof is that these armed groups are more effective in their fight against the PNH because they have infiltrated agents who spy for criminal organizations.

“It is no coincidence that, despite all the police interventions, they are not able to arrest any gang leader”, nor does the seizure of weapons or ammunition take place and, ultimately, this collaboration allows the territory of violent gangs to be impregnable .

“Certification”

The National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) has been demanding “a general certification process” of the agents for years, but this has never been put into practice, said lawyer Marie Rosy Auguste Ducéna.

Carrying out a procedure to evaluate the morality and integrity of the agents “is fundamental” when “within the force there are police officers who have ties to armed gangs or who are part” of them, but at no time has the need been taken into account to “clean up the institution,” a demand that has intensified since 2018, he said.

The fact that there are “so many bad apples, so many police officers involved in corruption and gang activities or even serious crimes, discredits the entire institution” and, in fact, the population mistrusts and refuses to collaborate with it.

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