The United Nations Security Council will vote on a resolution that would demand an immediate end to violence and criminal activity in Haiti and impose sanctions on influential gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier.
The resolution would also impose sanctions on other Haitian individuals and groups that engage in actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, according to the final draft obtained by The Associated Press.
Council diplomats said the 10-page draft resolution was put “in blue” – a final form that can be voted on – on Tuesday afternoon with a vote to be held on Wednesday afternoon.
Daily life in Haiti began to spiral out of control last month just hours after Prime Minister Ariel Henry said fuel subsidies would be removed, causing prices to double.
The gangs blocked the entrance to the Varreux fuel terminal, leading to severe fuel shortages at a time when clean water is also in short supply and the country is trying to deal with a deadly cholera outbreak.
The resolution drafted by the United States and Mexico singles out Cherizier, a former police officer who leads an alliance of Haitian gangs known as the “G9 Family and Allies,” as the target of the travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
But it would establish a Security Council committee to designate other Haitians and groups to be included in a sanctions blacklist.
“Cherizier and his confederation of G9 gangs are actively blocking the free flow of fuel from the Varreux fuel terminal, Haiti’s largest,” the draft reads.
“His actions have directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti.”
Cherizier has also “participated 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 draft resolution says.
While serving in the police force, he says, he planned and participated in a deadly attack in November 2018 in the La Saline area of the capital, Port-au-Prince, in which at least 71 people were killed, more than 400 homes destroyed and at least seven women. violated by armed gangs.
In a video posted on Facebook last week, Cherizier called on the government to grant him and the G9 members amnesty and to cancel all arrest warrants against them.
He said in Creole that the economic and social situation in Haiti is getting worse every day, so “there is no better time than today to dismantle the system”.
He outlined a transition plan to restore order in Haiti. It includes the creation of a Council of Wise Men with a representative from each of Haiti’s 10 departments to rule the country with an interim president until presidential elections can be held in February 2024.
He also calls for restructuring the National Police of Haiti and strengthening the army.
“The country is facing one crisis after another,” Cherizier said. “During all these crises, the first victim is the population, the people of the ghettos, the peasants.”
The draft resolution expresses “deep concern at the extremely high levels of gang violence and other criminal activities, including kidnapping, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and homicides, and sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and ‘sexual slavery, as well as continued impunity for perpetrators, corruption and the recruitment of children into gangs and the implications of the Haiti situation for the region’.
It demands “an immediate cessation of violence, criminal activities and human rights abuses that undermine the peace, stability and security of Haiti and the region”.
And he urges “all political actors” to participate in negotiations to overcome the crisis in Haiti and allow legislative and presidential elections to be held “as soon as the local security situation allows”.
Political instability has soared since the still-unsolved assassination last year of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who had faced opposition protests calling for his resignation on corruption charges and claims his five-year term had ended.
Moise dissolved Parliament in January 2020 after lawmakers failed to hold elections in 2019 amid political impasse.
Haiti has been gripped by inflation, causing rising prices that have put food and fuel out of reach for many Haitians, and fueling protests that have brought society to breaking point. Violence breeds anger that makes parents afraid to send their children to school.
Hospitals, banks and grocery stores are struggling to stay open. Clean water is scarce and the country is trying to deal with a cholera outbreak.
The president of the neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, recently described the situation as a “low-intensity civil war.”
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the US and Mexico are preparing a second UN resolution that would authorize an international mission to help improve security in Haiti, whose government issued a “distress call” for the people of the crisis-ravaged nation.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield said the proposed “non-UN” mission would be limited in time and scope and would be led by “a partner country”, who was not identified, “with the deep and necessary expertise needed to this effort is effective”.
It would have the mandate to use military force if necessary.