(CMC) – A significant number of foreign nationals, including Jamaicans and Colombians, have been detained in Haiti on several charges including drug trafficking and murder, with many of them not knowing if they will ever appear before a court, senior police officer has said.
“Even though the list is not exhaustive, we can count at least 52 foreign nationals in our jails in Haiti, most of who have been detained on drug and murder charges,” said Police Inspector General, Pierre René François.
He told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN), a partner agency of the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), that the 52 foreigners, including seven Colombians, 13 Jamaicans, 10 from the neighbouring Dominican Republic, and two from the Bahamas, have been detained in several detention centres in Haiti, where at least 142 inmates died last year, many by cholera and other infectious diseases.
“A number of the Colombian detainees were accused of involvement in the assassination of Haitian president [Jovenel ] Moïse,” the police inspector told HCNN.
Moïse was assassinated at his private residence, overlooking the capital on the night of July 6 to 7, 2021, allegedly by a commando team, comprising mainly former Colombian soldiers.
Some of the Colombians have denied the crime, saying they were misled by the masterminds behind the killing.
They said they were invited to Haiti to help enforce an arrest warrant against the then sitting president.
The other foreign nationals in jails are from Uruguay, Bolivia, the United States, Cameroon and Nigeria.
There are five others whose nationalities are unknown.
Penitentiary officials said relatives of several of the detainees have contacted them through their respective embassies or consulates to learn more about their conditions.
Haiti has been thrown into chaos ever since the assassination of Moïse with rival criminal gangs involved in kidnappings, rapes, murders and several of the country’s institutions have broken down.
Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry has asked the international community to send a multi-national peace keeping force to restore order and security in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CCARICOM) country.