Canada announced on Thursday that it would impose additional sanctions on three prominent Haitian businessmen. These measures come as a rebuke to individuals allegedly involved in corruption that have further deepened the turmoil in the Caribbean nation.
The Canadian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the latest sanctions, which target businessmen Marc Antoine Acra, Carl Braun and Jean-Marie Vorbe. Acra is a well-known businessman who previously served as an advisor to former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Braun is the vice president on the board of directors of Unibank, the largest Haitian bank. Vorbe serves as the CEO of Sogener, a prominent company operating in the energy sector.
Canada alleges that the men are “fuelling the violence and instability in Haiti through corruption and other criminal acts and by enabling the illegal activities of armed gangs .”
Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, these individuals will be declared inadmissible to Canada, barring their entry into the country. Moreover, they will be prohibited from engaging in financial transactions or business dealings with Canadian entities.
The sanction is a response to the deteriorated humanitarian situation in Haiti, marked by a surge in violent incidents, including killings, kidnappings and instances of sexual violence perpetrated by criminal gangs operating around the capital, Port-au-Prince. According to Human Rights Watch, the Haitian government failed to protect its citizens from the escalating violence, with allegations of collusion between some of these criminal organizations and senior political officials, influential economic figures, and members of the police force.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk voiced concerns in May about the crisis, warning of an “endless cycle of violence” in Haiti. According to UN quarterly report on human rights situation, armed gangs in Haiti have assumed control over critical resources such as water, food, healthcare and fuel, while kidnappings have become rampant.
Research notes that while the crisis has inflicted severe hardships on the Haitian population, some segments, including the financial sector, the oil industry, and the energy and communication sector, appear to have profited substantially from the chaotic economic environment. The financial sector allegedly manipulates the dollar rate and the prices of products in the Haitian market. The research claims that these business circles have an interest in creating and maintaining a “mafia-like environment favorable to a corrupt, crisis-ridden economy”.