Haiti: Civilian Mobs Go on Lynching Spree, Burning over a Dozen Suspected Gang Members

Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Princ

The Haitian police announced on Monday that residents of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, overpowered a group of suspected gang members and executed them on the spot by hanging them and setting them on fire.

Police spokesman Gary Derosiers said the police were preparing to arrest the armed gangsters when a mob of irate citizens stepped in.

“During a search of a minibus in which there were armed individuals, the police confiscated weapons and other equipment. In addition, more than a dozen individuals traveling in this vehicle were unfortunately lynched by members of the population,” he said.

Reuters described angry, shouting citizens surrounding “several bodies piled in the road, with smoking tires and other objects on top of them.” One particularly furious member of the public clubbed the dead bodies with a blunt instrument.

The Associated Press (AP) quoted witnesses who said the mob beat 13 of the suspected gangsters to death and then immolated them using gasoline-soaked tires. One phone video of the incident reviewed by the AP showed police officers doing nothing to protect the victims from the mob. One officer even helpfully stomped on a bandit to keep him from standing up before the crowd could set him on fire.

Another group of eyewitnesses claimed six other gang members were beaten to death in a different neighborhood, and their bodies were then burned by residents.

Derosiers confirmed that at least three other suspected gang members were killed on Monday in separate incidents, with their bodies burned afterward. An infamous crime boss named Carlo Petithomme, leader of the Ti Makak gang, was also slain. Derosiers offered no further details on who perpetrated these killings.

“If the gangs come to invade us, we will defend ourselves, we too have our own weapons, we have our machetes, we will take their weapons, we will not flee,” a defiant Port-au-Prince resident told Agence France-Presse (AFP) after the police cautioned against vigilante violence.

Gangsters and warlords have taken over most of Haiti since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021. The government of his unelected successor, Ariel Henry, controls little beyond a few districts in Port-au-Prince. Gangs have looted foreign aid programs and held vital infrastructure hostage.

The United Nations has repeatedly called for international police and military intervention to stabilize Haiti, but no other nation is eager to send troops into the bloody chaos, especially since Haitian civilians might undermine foreign interventions perceived as propping up Henry’s government.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday published a report that said insecurity in Port-au-Prince “has reached levels comparable to countries in armed conflict.”

“I reiterate the urgent need for the deployment of an international specialized armed force,” Guterres said when releasing his report.


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