Kidnappings in Haiti increase threefold in 2023, says human rights group
"Gangs use extreme violence (all forms of torture) to force parents and families to pay large sums of U.S. money that they do not have," it said, citing severe burns, gang rapes, and hangings a consequence of not paying
April 6, 2023 9:13am
Updated: April 7, 2023 9:43am
Kidnappings in Haiti have increased threefold during the first three months of the year compared to the last quarter of 2022, human rights group CARDH said on Tuesday as violence continues to increase in the Caribbean country.
During the first three months of 2023, there were at least 389 kidnappings recorded in Haiti, three times more than the 127 CARDH recorded in the previous quarter. The kidnappings between January and March of this year also represent a 72% increase from the same period last year, which saw a total of 857 kidnappings.
Some of the kidnappings are spurred by gangs who continue to expand their territory in the country and use the measure to ask for ransom payments from family members of the victims. If the payments are not met, the victims are subjected to torture, including burns, rape, and hanging, the group said.
"Gangs use extreme violence (all forms of torture) to force parents and families to pay large sums of U.S. money that they do not have," it said, citing severe burns, gang rapes, and hangings as a consequence of not paying.
About 29 of the kidnapping victims were from foreign countries. On March 18, a couple from Florida was kidnapped while they were visiting family in Haiti.
Jean-Dickens Toussaint and his wife, Abigail Toussaint, from Tamarac in Broward County Florida were visiting Haiti to visit family and attend a festival. However, on March 18, the couple was kidnapped while riding a bus to Leogan, about 27 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The couple’s family said that they paid the kidnappers $6,000 in ransom. However, they increased the price and are demanding more than $200,000 per person.
The U.S. State Department confirmed that the two American citizens had been abducted and said they were working with Haitian authorities to secure their release.
"We are in regular contact with Haitian authorities and we'll continue to work with them and our U.S. government interagency partners," State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a briefing.
According to the United Nations, about 60% of the capital of Port-au-Prince is controlled by gangs.