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Canadian MPs Call for Tougher Sanctions on Haiti’s Elite Amid Gang Violence Crisis

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Urges Ottawa Not to Send Canadian Troops to Eliminate Violent Gangs in Haiti, But Instead to Tougher Sanctions Targeting That Country’s Political and Economic Elite, Radio Report Says Canada this Thursday.

MPs on the committee say Canada should make it clear that its military will not participate in direct military operations on the ground – which would mean rejecting a request from Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Armed gangs have filled a power vacuum in Haiti left after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, leading to widespread starvation, a collapse of basic health services and disturbing accounts of sexual violence.

MPs say in a newly released report that Ottawa should respond by focusing on humanitarian, economic and political efforts, as well as supporting justice and security in the Caribbean country.

They say Canada should empower the Haitian National Police to address the problem of armed gangs, which echoes demands from civil society groups, but which the International Crisis Group says may not be possible.

MEPs also call on Canada to move from funding for interim humanitarian assistance to creating a longer-term strategy that would have predictable funding and target specific results.

They say those outcomes should include the availability of recreational activities for children to learn and play, as gangs force schools to close and engage in recruitment that some MPs call a child soldier operation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada should play a key role in pulling Haiti out of the crisis.

But he said that Canada would be part of a military mission only if it is a request from a plurality of Haitians.

The Biden administration has in recent months eased its pressure on Ottawa to participate in such an intervention, which it says could nonetheless help stem a regional refugee, gun and gang crisis.

Canada has urged other countries to follow its lead by imposing economic sanctions on Haitians whom Ottawa accuses of empowering armed gangs.

Mr. Trudeau argues that this pressure will help build political consensus on how Western countries can help Haiti.

Yet Wednesday’s MPs’ report urges Ottawa to immediately address “flaws in its sanctions regime, including the lack of transparency and information provided to parliamentarians, as well as insufficient resources allocated to investigations and execution”.

The Foreign Affairs Committee made the same point in mid-February when it said it was unclear whether Canada’s sanctions regime was really trying to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

With The Press

2023-05-05 03:00:47
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