Study: Violent crime has spiked in Haiti’s cities

Mar 5, 2012, 2:57 AM

Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haiti has seen a dramatic increase in violent crime in the shanties of its major cities over the past six months, helping undermine faith in the country’s police force, according to a study released Sunday.

The preliminary findings in the report titled “Haiti’s Urban Crime Wave?” speak to rising concerns among Haitians that their country is entering a period of political turmoil that could thwart efforts to help rebuild in the aftermath of the powerful January 2010 earthquake.

Homicides in the heavily populated areas of Haiti’s biggest cities appear to have increased sharply from August 2011 to last February, according to the study authored by social scientists Athena Kolbe and Robert Muggah, and backed by the Canadian government’s International Development Research Centre and the Brazil nonprofit, the Igarape Institute.

While the homicide rate in Port-au-Prince is lower than that of some other Caribbean cities, Haiti’s capital saw 60.9 murders per 100,000 residents over the year leading up to February 2012, the highest recorded murder rate since 2006, according to the study. For example, the Bel Air district of Port-au-Prince saw homicides jump from 19 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 50 per 100,000 people near the end of 2011.

“This murder rate is not just high _ it’s enormous,” Kolbe said.

In comparison, New York City’s homicide rate was less than 7 per 100,000 in 2011, while Oakland, California, had 23 homicides per 100,000 residents.

The bulk of the Haiti murders happened in densely populated areas in the cities where there are high levels of social marginalization and poverty, which included Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes, Gonaives, among others.

Police chief Mario Andresol said he needed to review his crime statistics to see if they reflected the findings of the report but conceded that Haiti has long seen a spike in crime when political instability takes hold.

“When you have political turmoil you have problems with insecurity,” Andresol said by telephone. “There is a kind of destabilization of society.”

Haiti is at a fragile moment in its history with quake reconstruction effort advancing slowly and hundreds of thousands of people still living in rough-and-tumble camps. Also, Haiti’s prime minister abruptly resigned last month because of infighting with President Michel Martelly and it’s unclear when a successor will be approved by Parliament. Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide recently rallied in the streets to bash Martelly’s reconstruction efforts.

According to the authors of the study, there is no single factor to explain the rise in violent crime but they point to a frustration that stems in part from the many international humanitarian groups that came to Haiti after the earthquake.

Many aid groups came to urban neighborhoods and pumped in money and resources, before withdrawing just when they were needed most, said Kolbe, a doctoral candidate in social work and political science at University of Michigan.

This interrupted social networks in these neighborhoods, she said.

“You have people coming in from aid agencies, giving money to some groups within the community and not others,” Kolbe said in an interview at her home in the Port-au-Prince area. “This disrupted the community, and then there’s been this abrupt pull out now of the funds.”

Muggah is a fellow of international relations at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Kolbe and Muggah collected their data from interviews with 3,000 households in Haiti’s major cities. The survey used random sampling methods.

The study also noted that for the first time since 2007 confidence in the Haitian National Police force has plunged among city dwellers, which is in contrast to the faith that was found in the force in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Almost one in five respondents expressed concerns that police officers were unable or unwilling to protect them from crime.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
1 month ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
1 month ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
2 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
2 months ago
In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Pres...
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
2 months ago
Royal guards stand by the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, as members of the public pay thei...
Associated Press

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral | Live updates

WINDSOR, England — Queen Elizabeth II has been interred together with her late husband, Prince Philip, at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, officials said. The royal family’s official website said the Dean of Windsor conducted a private burial ceremony late Monday at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex inside St. George’s, a […]
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Study: Violent crime has spiked in Haiti’s cities