In a statement issued on Friday, Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, announced specific sanctions on ‘Haitian political leaders who give unlawful financial and operational assistance to armed gangs’ in cooperation with the United States. Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue are the targets of the penalties issued. Both Latortue, the previous president of the Senate, and Lambert, the current Senate president, are accused of exploiting their positions of trust to ‘guard and promote the criminal operations’ of armed gang members through ‘acts of corruption’ and ‘money laundering’.
The imposition, which would involve freezing any assets they may have in both Canada and the US, aims to halt the flow of ‘illicit finances and weapons to weaken and cripple criminal groups’. The statement further forewarned of additional fines and other actions against those and other businesses accountable for the continued violence in Haiti. The two Haitian politicians are subject to these sanctions, according to a separate statement from the US Department of the Treasury, because they ‘have engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production’.
Brian E. Nelson, a representative of the Treasury Department, claims that Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue ‘abused their official positions to sell drugs and worked with criminal and gang networks to subvert the rule of law in Haiti’. The statement also noted that Latortue and Lambert had each been active politicians for close to two decades.
Furthermore, the nations claim that the aforementioned armed gangs terrify vulnerable communities and engage in ‘unspeakable violence’ in Haiti. This includes pervasive sexual assault and challenges in providing essential services, both of which are contributing to the ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ the nation is currently experiencing. This comes after several reports of an intensifying humanitarian catastrophe in Haiti caused by rising gang violence, which is also to blame for the blockade of petroleum terminals in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, leading to a lack of both fuel and water. The scenario is apparently becoming worse as the nation is also dealing with a cholera outbreak.