The Kidnapping Conundrum
By Bryan Schaaf on Sunday, December 17, 2006.
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Gangs have brazenly announced they would be targeting women and children. True to their word, there has been an upsurge - culminating in the abduction of a bus of school children as well as a temporary abduction of a Senator that was resolved fairly quickly.
Senators, children, even market women are at risk. There is much blame to go around. Deportees from the United States? Gangs? Opportunists? All of the above?
To any extent, it is clear that the Prèval government has not been able to bring kidnappings under control. Purging the police force of corrupt elements may have been necessary but also may have contributed to the prevalence of the problem.
What is to be done? Reintegrating gang members into society was given a shot but has fallen by the wayside. Indications seem to be that Prèval would like the UN to take a more aggressive approach against the gangs. But the Minustah force will forever be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Stand by and they will be accused of doing nothing to stabilize a chaotic environment, engage the gangs in the densely populated slums of Port au Prince, and innocent civilians will die - which ultimately stirs up further resentment against the UN.
It’s not an enviable situation to be in. Until Port au Prince has a strong and accountable police force that can work side by side with the UN, or independently when necessary, we are unlikely to see this problem resolved.
We invite you to blog on this subject, as it is one of the most serious issues facing Haiti today. It has exacerbated the brain drain, chased away investment, and has exacerbated an environment of lawlessness. To resolve this present problem, it may benefit us to look at past precedents - how did Argentina, Chile, and other Latin Americas resolve their kidnapping situations? The answers may benefit Haiti.
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