PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – A significant number of foreigners, including Jamaicans and Colombians, have been incarcerated in crisis-stricken Haiti on several charges including drug trafficking and murder, with many of them not knowing if they will ever appear before a court, a senior police officer in the country has said.
“Even though the list is not exhaustive, we can count at least 52 foreign nationals in our jails in Haiti, most of whom have been detained on drug and murder charges,” said Police Inspector General, Pierre René François.
He told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN), a partner agency of the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the 52 foreigners, including seven Colombians, 13 Jamaicans, 10 from the neighbouring Dominican Republic and two from the Bahamas, have been detained in several detention centres in Haiti, where at least 142 inmates were killed last year, many by cholera and other infectious diseases.
“A number of the Colombian detainees were accused of involvement in the assassination of Haitian president Moise,” the police Inspector told HCNN.
Moise was assassinated at his private residence, overlooking the capital on the night of July 6 to 7, 2021, allegedly by a commando team, comprising mainly composed of former Colombian soldiers.
Some of the Colombians have denied the crime, saying they had been misled by the masterminds behind the killing. They said they were invited to Haiti to help enforce an arrest warrant against the then sitting president.
The other foreign nationals in jails across Haiti are from Uruguay, Bolivia, the United States, Cameroon and Nigeria. There are five others whose nationalities are unknown.
Penitentiary officials said relatives of several of the detainees have contacted them through their respective embassies or consulates to learn more about their conditions.
Haiti has been thrown into chaos ever since the assassination of Moise with rival criminal gangs involved in kidnappings, rapes, murders and several of the country’s institutions have broken down.
Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry has asked the international community to send a multi-national peace keeping force to restore order and security in theFrench-speakng Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.