Haiti claims delayed Canadian armoured vehicles hinder plan to control gangs

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Haiti’s troubled government is accusing Canada of stalling in its promised delivery of armoured vehicles, and argues the delay is hindering a plan to clear violent gangs fromPort-au-Prince.

In an interview with Haitian radio, the country’s acting justice minister, Emmelie Prophete-Milce, said in French that the company supplying the tanks “did not keep its word.”

Violent gangs have held control over most of Haiti’s capital for months, leading to a shortage of essentials and medical care, and a rise in sexual assaults.

As part of Canada’s response, Ottawa said it has been airlifting armoured vehicles that the Haitian government has purchased, which might avoid the need for an international military intervention.

But Prophete-Milce said the majority of the 18 armoured vehicles her country ordered have yet to arrive, and she claims “the police could implement their strategy if all the armoured vehicles were delivered on time.”

Global Affairs Canada has been asked to respond to these claims.

Her comments come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to call upon Europe and the U.S. to follow Canada in sanctioning Haiti’s elites.

“For me, the best way to restore stability for Haiti, is to first punish the elites, to tell them that they can no longer finance gangs (nor) political instability,” Trudeau said in Frenchon Monday.

He was speaking at a public event in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood, which has a large Haitian diaspora.

Canada has sanctioned 17 of Haiti’s political and economic elite over alleged ties with gangs, barring them from financial dealings in Canada. Many of those sanctioned dispute those claims and argue Ottawa has acted on shoddy information.

Last December, Trudeau urged Europe to follow suit, and Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, said in January that France could make a difference by imposing its own sanctions.

Trudeau indicated Monday he was not satisfied by the response.

“The United States has started to impose more sanctions; we need them to do a lot more. We need Europe, France, to do more,” he said.

France has said it’s instead sticking with a slow-moving United Nations process aimed at sanctioning bad actors in Haiti, which effectively bars them from visiting most countries and having virtually any financial transactions with foreign entities.

The process has listed just one person since it started last October.

France’s ambassador to Haiti, Fabrice Mauries, was critical of Canada’s approach in an interview last December.

“I think it’s a collective effort that must be carried out. If the sanctions remain Canadian (only) they will fail,” he told Radio France Internationale.

Haiti’s unelected government has asked for an international military intervention to clear out the gangs, but the idea is deeply divisive among Haitians.

The UN has documented that foreign troops it oversaw in past Haitian deployments sexually assaulted locals and sparked a cholera outbreak.

Separately, Trudeau said on Wednesday that Ottawa has helped Haiti in many ways since its dictatorship ended in 1986, but there needs to be more viable change.

“We have delivered military missions, we have built hospitals, we have trained police officers, delivered prison guards — like, done a huge amount of intervention and yet the problems persist,” he said at a press conference in Newfoundland.

Trudeau argued that a “fresh approach” is needed where Haitians are in charge.

“Outside intervention as we’ve done in the past hasn’t worked to create long-term stability for Haiti.”

In any case, Canada’s top soldier doubts Ottawa has “capacity” to lead such an intervention.

“There’s only so much to go around,” Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defence staff, told Reuters this past week. “It would be challenging.”

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