On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two former Haitian government officials for their roles in planning a brutal massacre while they were high-ranking government officials in a government receiving significant U.S. aid and support. One of the officials, Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan, the Departamental Delegate for President Moïse’s regime, is accused of being the ‘intellectual architect’ of the November 2018 La Saline (Lasalin) massacre, in which at least 71 people in the Lasalin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince were killed, women and girls were raped, and over 400 homes were destroyed. The neighborhood was targeted as it was known for its opposition to the U.S.-backed Moïse regime.
According to the U.S. Treasury announcement of the sanctions under the Global Magnisky Human Rights Accountability Act, Duplan was part of a meeting where the massacre was planned and provided firearms and Haitian National Police uniforms to the paramilitaries who carried out the massacre. The second high-ranking official sanctioned, Fednel Monchery, who was the Director General of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Authorities, was also part of the meeting where the La Saline massacre was planned and provided weapons and state vehicles to the paramilitaries who perpetrated the massacre. (The U.S. Treasury and media refer to the these paramilitary forces as ‘gangs’, but it is important to call them what they are: organized, armed groups that operate in coordination with the police and Haitian state and target the political opposition.)
Jimmy Cherizier, alias ‘Barbecue’, a police officer at the time and notorious leader of the G9 alliance of ‘gangs,’ was also sanctioned for his role in planning and participating in the Lasalin massacre and leading paramilitaries in ‘coordinated, brutal attacks in Port-au-Prince neighborhoods’ from 2018-2020.
Holding the United States Accountable
When will the United States be held accountable for its role in the Lasalin massacre? The U.S. backed and financed the the Moïse regime in Haiti while two of its high ranking official planned a massacre, in which at least 71 people were killed. The United States trained and equipped the Haitian National Police while one of those police officers planned and helped lead this massacre, in which people were burned alive, hacked to death, dismembered, and fed to animals.
The U.S. provides equipment and vehicles to the Haitian National Police, while Haitian government officials provided weapons, vehicles, and National Police uniforms to paramilitaries to use to murder and rape innocent civilians. From 2010-2018, the U.S. provided more than $250 million in assistance to the Haitian National Police. In the same year that one of Haiti’s most notorious police officers was part of the brutal Lasalin massacre, the U.S. boasted of being an ‘important partner of the Haitian National Police.’
The Lasalin massacre is not an isolated act. During the SOAW Virtual Vigil this year, Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee and the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, denounced the ongoing violence of the paramilitary networks, operating in coordination with the Haitian police. In its October 2020 report, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti reported that ‘local human rights organizations investigating the rise in violence have documented the involvement of police officers and state officials in numerous attacks against marginalized communities.’
SOA Watch joins the Haiti Action Committee and Haitian activists in demanding that the U.S. cease all financing and training of the Haitian National Police and end its support for the brutal Moïse regime. The U.S. must stop propping up and supporting a regime that coordinates with paramilitaries to carry out massacres.
This designation under the Global Magnisky Human Rights Accountability Act is an important step and only occurred thanks to human rights organizations and activists who have worked tirelessly to document the reality of the Lasalin massacre and identify the perpetrators. The U.S. must also be held accountable for its role and must immediately cease financing and supporting the Moïse regime and Haitian police.