The charges of corruption and affiliation with criminal organisations have led the Canadian government to announce sanctions against two former justice ministers of Haiti.
Berto Dorce and Liszt Quitel were accused of laundering money for criminal groups that have gained power in Haiti after the killing of former President Jovenel Moise last year, and Canada said that it will take any assets owned by the two former ministers.
Since Mose’s murder, violence has engulfed Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. According to Ulrika Richardson, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, 60 percent of the city is currently under the influence of armed gangs.
Richardson claimed earlier this month that 155,000 Port-au-Prince citizens had left their homes to avoid the violence. Around 20,000 Haitians, the majority of whom reside in gang-controlled parts of the capital, are in danger of famine.
One Haitian gang, commanded by Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, blockaded a significant Port-au-Prince petroleum terminal from September to November, causing hospital closures, food insecurity, and other issues.
Officials from Canada claim that Quitel and Dorce, the two people who received sanctions on Tuesday, are connected to gang activity.
When a group known as 400 Mawozo abducted a Canadian and 16 American missionaries last year, Quitel was the justice minister at the time. They were able to escape after being imprisoned for two months.
At the time of the kidnappings, Dorce took over for Quitel, promising to deal with a wave of armed gang kidnappings. For their alleged involvement in the kidnappings, the US announced charges against seven Haitian gang leaders last month.
In November, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry removed both Dorce and Quitel from office. In accordance with the restrictions announced on Tuesday, Quitel and Dorce cannot enter Canada, are prohibited from doing business with Canadians, and have all of their Canadian assets frozen.
The sanctions are the most recent in a line of foreign initiatives to weaken the influence of gangs in Haiti. Former and current Haitian officials have been under increasing attention for abusing their positions of authority to facilitate illegal activities as Haiti struggles with a number of crises, including a cholera outbreak and rising living expenses.