OTTAWA, Canada (CMC) – Canada announced on Monday that it would freeze local assets of three high-profile Haitian businessmen who are accused of supporting the Caribbean country’s armed gangs in the furtherance of political instability.
“Canada has reason to believe these individuals are using their status as high-profile members of the economic elite in Haiti to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs, including through money laundering and other acts of corruption,” the Canadian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It named the businessmen as Gilbert Bigio, chairman of Haitian industrial conglomerate GB Group, as well as Reynold Deeb and Sherif Abdallah.
The new sanctions are the latest by Canada on prominent political and business people in the country “intended to put pressure on those responsible for the ongoing violence and instability in Haiti.”
Canada and the United States have over the past few months placed sanctions on a number of Haitian politicians, including Senate, Joseph Lambert, former Senate president, Louri Latortue, accusing them of abusing their “public position by participating in corrupt activity that undermined the integrity of Haiti’s government”.
Canada and Washington have also claimed that there is “credible information” of their involvement in “a gross violation of human rights, namely an extrajudicial killing”.
The accused have all denied the accusations and have called on the two countries to provide the evidence to support the allegations.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) has placed “restrictive measures” on Jimmy Cherizier alias ‘Barbecue’ one of the most influential gang leaders in Haiti who leads a coalition of Haitian gangs known as ‘G9 family and allies’.
This is the first time that the EU has imposed sanctions against Haiti. The EU said the restrictive measures allow for a framework for introducing travel restrictions, targeted arms embargo, freezing of funds and economic resources of, and a prohibition to make funds and economic resources available to, persons, entities or bodies engaged in or supporting gangs involved in violence.
“Jimmy Cherizier has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses,” the EU said.
Haitian gangs in September created a humanitarian crisis by blocking the entrance to a fuel terminal, leading to shortages of gasoline and diesel that halted most economic activity just as the country reported a renewed outbreak of cholera.