Tags: haiti police chief ousted replaced gangs

Haitian Leaders Oust Police Chief and Appoint a New One as Gang Violence Claims Officers' Lives

Haitian Leaders Oust Police Chief and Appoint a New One as Gang Violence Claims Officers' Lives

Saturday, 15 June 2024 01:01 PM EDT

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian leaders have ousted Frantz Elbé, the beleaguered director of Haiti’s National Police, following months of criticism that he wasn’t doing enough to protect officers under assault by gangs.

A government official not authorized to speak to the media told The Associated Press on Saturday that former Haitian police chief Normil Rameau will once again take the helm of an underfunded and ill-equipped department that a U.N. report notes only has around 4,000 officers on duty at a time in a country of more than 11 million inhabitants. Rameau had been dismissed from the post nearly four years ago under a different administration,

More than 2,500 people have been killed or injured across Haiti in the first three months of the year as gang violence continues to surge.

Among those killed are nearly two dozen police officers, overwhelmed by gangs that control 80% of Port-au-Prince and are better-equipped and have more powerful weapons. The most recent killings targeted three officers from a newly formed anti-gang tactical unit who were on patrol in an armored vehicle. A fourth remains missing.

Rameau’s appointment comes as a newly selected prime minister and Cabinet take the reins of Haiti’s government with a transitional presidential council at their side.

Rameau previously served as police director-general under slain former President Jovenel Moïse, who appointed him in August 2019. Prior to that, he oversaw the detective division. He was ousted as police chief in November 2020 after Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe accused him of being incompetent and not producing results at a time when gangs were seizing control of more territory.

Neither Rameau nor Elbé immediately returned messages for comment.

Haiti’s police unions have repeatedly called for Elbé’s resignation and arrest, noting that gangs have raided and burned at least 30 police stations and substations in recent months as part of a series of attacks that began on Feb. 29 that targeted critical state infrastructure and led to the eventual resignation of former Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

On Wednesday, a police union known as SPNH-17 held a news conference to condemn the state of the department and deplore the deaths of the officers.

“Look at these young men, hacked to death,” spokesman Garry Jean-Baptiste said as he pointed to rows of pictures behind him that depicted officers killed on duty.

The union also issued a statement the day Haiti celebrated the creation of its police department.

“Haiti’s National Police is 29 years old, but it still can’t walk … it hasn’t grown because corruption and incompetence has held it hostage,” it said.

Meanwhile, another police union known as SYNAPOHA called on newly installed Prime Minister Garry Conille this week to make strengthening the department a priority.

Conille went along on a patrol with police on June 2, donning a flak jacket and helmet as he entered an armored vehicle. SNPH-17 said at the time that the prime minister would notice during the patrol that the country had no leadership and that criminals had too much control.

“The prime minister must see the need to have another team at the top,” the union said.

Elbé was appointed head of Haiti’s National Police in October 2021, replacing Léon Charles.

Last year, under Elbé, at least 36 officers were killed in gang-related violence from January to mid-August, according to a U.N. report.

The international community has provided training and other resources to help boost Haiti’s National Police, which also is awaiting the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from Kenya.

___

Dánica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Haitian leaders have ousted Frantz Elbé, the beleaguered director of Haiti's National Police, following months of criticism that he wasn't doing enough to protect officers under assault by gangs.A government official not authorized to speak to the media told The Associated...
haiti police chief ousted replaced gangs
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2024-01-15
Saturday, 15 June 2024 01:01 PM
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