The government’s withering authority is a consequence of its own shortsighted strategy to use gangs to achieve its objectives, human rights advocates say.
Early this month, Pastor Jean Ferrer Michel had parked outside of his church when armed, masked men jumped out of a justice ministry vehicle and bundled him away, his daughter, Farah Michel, said. He was later handed over to a gang and was released only on Monday evening after his family paid multiple ransoms.
Human rights organizations have accused Justice Minister Liszt Quitel of using both government resources and a Haitian gang to kidnap the pastor after a personal dispute.
“The car that kidnapped him came from the ministry of justice, and that is all I can say,” said Ms. Michel, the pastor’s daughter. “If the justice ministry has something to do with this, that is between them, God and their mothers.”
Her family is under threat, she said, and planning to leave Haiti soon.
“You can’t raise a kid in this atmosphere, you can’t give birth, go to a job, raise a family,” she said. “It’s a real nightmare. You’re not sleeping, but you’re in a nightmare.”
The justice minister, Mr. Quitel, did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but he denied the allegations to a local radio station.
In the emergency room at St. Damien hospital, the mothers, cousins and grandmothers of patients are spending the night together on blue armchairs because there’s no way to get home. Even there, they are going hungry, with the fuel shortage driving up the cost of food.