The Haitian Church denounces the kidnapping of religious by criminal gangs

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The Haitian Catholic Church denounced Monday the inaction of the authorities following the kidnapping of ten people, including seven religious – five Haitians and two French – near Port-au-Prince, capital of this Caribbean country plagued by the 'insecurity.

For some time now, we have seen the descent into hell of Haitian society, regrets the archbishopric of Port-au-Prince, according to whom the armed gang violence take an unprecedented proportion.

Public authorities who are doing nothing to resolve this crisis are not immune to all suspicion. We denounce complacency and complicity wherever they come from, continues the press release stamped by Monsignor Max Leroy Mésidor, archbishop of the first Haitian city.

The group includes four priests and a nun, all Haitians, as well as two French from the west of France: a nun from the department of Mayenne and a priest from Ille-et-Vilaine who has lived in Haiti for more than 30 years.

Three people, family members of a Haitian priest who was not among those kidnapped, were also kidnapped.

Haitians are predominantly of the Catholic faith and their country is the poorest on the American continent.

France opens an investigation

The Paris prosecutor's office, competent for crimes committed abroad against French citizens, opened an investigation on Monday for organized kidnapping and forcible confinement, which he entrusted to the Central Office for the Fight against Organized Crime (OCLCO).

Haitian police suspect an armed gang – baptized 400 Mawozo – active in the area where these kidnappings occurred to be at the origin, according to a police source.

The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of one million dollars, for his part declared the father Loudger Mazile, according to which the religious were kidnapped in the morning at the Croix-des-Bouquets, near Port-au-Prince, at the time where they were going to the installation of a new parish priest.

In Paris, the Foreign Ministry said to be fully mobilized, in close collaboration with local authorities, while wishing to observe the utmost discretion.

The five priests belong to the Society of Priests of Saint-Jacques, established in Guiclan (Finistère, western France), the Superior General, Paul Dossous, confirmed Monday to AFP.

We try to pray while being so active. We are negotiating. Contact is made, that's important, he stressed.

The missionary society has about fifteen priests in Haiti, including the five abducted, out of a total of 80 priests and about twenty seminarians also present in France, Brazil and Canada.

Anger among Haitian religious

For its part, the Haitian Conference of Religious expressed its deep sorrow, but also his anger.

Not a day goes by without the weeping and gnashing of teeth and yet the so-called leaders of this country, while clinging to power, are increasingly powerless, she said.

The Conference of Bishops of France and the Conference of Men and Women Religious of France called on the kidnappers to free the men and women of peace they have kidnapped and not add further hatred where there is already poverty and insecurity.

Kidnappings for ransom have increased in recent months in Haiti and affect all segments of the population, testifying to the growing hold of armed gangs on the territory.

The United States also formally advised its nationals once again to travel to Haiti on Monday, emphasizing frequent kidnappings.

Added to this is the deep political crisis in which the nation is plunged.

President Jovenel Moïse estimates that his mandate will end on February 7, 2022, while for the opposition and part of civil society it ended on February 7, 2021. This disagreement is due to the fact that Mr. Moïse had was elected after a ballot canceled for fraud, then re-elected a year later.

Deprived of Parliament, Haiti sank further into the crisis in 2020 and the president governs by decree, fueling growing mistrust against it.

In this unstable context, Mr. Moïse decided to organize a constitutional referendum in June, denounced as a masquerade by the opposition.

Read also :

  • State of emergency declared in several areas in Haiti due to gangs
  • The Haitian opposition engages in a standoff with President Moïse
  • #FreeHaiti, a call to the whole world

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