Author: Dr. Angelika Hellweger
15 November 2022
2 min read
In a Rahman Ravelli Sanctions Monitor piece, Angelika Hellweger details UN sanctions activity concerning Haiti
In UN Security Council resolution 2653 (2022), adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a new sanctions regime was established in Haiti. The new UN sanctions regime has been set up to tackle the issues threatening the peace and stability of Haiti and is directed against criminal gangs in the country.
The resolution, proposed by the United States and Mexico, sanctions powerful gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, who is also known as “Barbecue”. Cherizier, a former Haitian National Police officer, leads an alliance of gangs. He is accused of various abuses, including killing civilians, and the UN has said his gang network is involved in the blockade of a major fuel terminal in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The sanctions imposed on him include an assets freeze and a travel ban. The resolution accused Cherizier of engaging in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Haiti and of planning, directing or committing acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.
While only Cherizier was named in the resolution, the measure establishes a foundation for further sanctions in the future against those who are believed to be undermining stability in the crisis-hit Caribbean country.
The United States and Canada have also imposed coordinated sanctions against two Haitian politicians, accusing Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue of using their posts “to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs”.
The UNSC resolution is significant, as it is the first time it has made criminal groups the main focus of sanctions after recognising their role in undermining peace and security. This marks an important shift in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery.
Although the sanctions look commendable at this stage, it remains to be seen precisely what effect they have. Imposing sanctions on a criminal gang leader who operates outside the formal sectors, rarely travels and does not use the banking system could prove to be ineffective.
But what can be anticipated is the possible impact that the sanctions will have on the country itself. If correspondent banks and financial institutions cease all business relationships with Haiti, this will create even greater vulnerability and exploitation in the country. This may even increase the possibility of human trafficking, modern slavery and related financial crimes.
Previous international efforts and interference regarding Haiti’s internal affairs have failed. A more promising approach to Haiti would be to provide international help for its governance structures and devise a political roadmap that helps opposition and civil society groups hold new elections to remove the destructive political instability. This would help ensure a future led by Haitians and not by external powers.
Angelika is a specialist in international, high-level economic crime investigations and large-scale commercial disputes. She has widely-recognised expertise in representing corporates and conglomerates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and United States.