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News Americas, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Tues. June 6, 2023: In a country plagued by poverty and violence, the rise of vigilante justice in Haiti has led to a drastic reduction in gang-related crime, the New York Times reports. The recent brutal executions of 14 presumed gang members marked the beginning of a relentless campaign by citizens to take back the streets of Port-au-Prince from the grips of terror.

According to a report by a prominent Haitian human rights group, at least 160 individuals believed to be gang members have been killed in the past six weeks as part of the citizens’ “self-defense” movement known as “bwa kale.” The movement, fueled by a power vacuum and an acute sense of desperation, has empowered civilians to take matters into their own hands and restore some semblance of peace to their neighborhoods.

The impact has been undeniable, with a sharp decline in kidnappings and killings attributed to gangs in areas where residents were once afraid to leave their homes. However, the vigilante approach has also raised concerns about potential misuse of power and the risk of escalating violence as gangs seek revenge.


While the vigilante movement has garnered support from many Haitians who see it as a necessary response to years of gang rule, human rights experts warn of the dangers it poses. The absence of a functional government, with no elected officials in place for the past two years, has created a fertile ground for vigilante justice to take root.

Although the situation is complex, the international community’s failure to address the crisis has been apparent. Calls for military intervention have been dismissed, and the focus has shifted towards strengthening Haiti’s security forces. Meanwhile, the vigilante movement continues to grow, reflecting the population’s frustration and desperation for security.

Vigilantism is not new to Haiti, having been employed during the Haitian Revolution and in previous periods of political upheaval. Ordinary citizens, tired of living in fear, have taken matters into their own hands, setting up checkpoints and enforcing their own brand of justice. Their determination to bring about change is unwavering, fueled by a shared belief that nothing can stop them.

As Haiti grapples with an ongoing crisis, the need for sustainable solutions and a functioning government is more pressing than ever. The international community must acknowledge the plight of the Haitian people and work towards long-term stability, ensuring that justice prevails without further descent into chaos.

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