Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness
Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 22, 2022. Holness said on Jan. 31, 2023 that his government is willing to send soldiers and police officers to Haiti as part of a proposed multinational security assistance deployment.
Associated Press/Jason DeCrow, File

Weeks after Jamaica announced plans to send a contingent of troops to any CARICOM security force in Haiti to help restore public order, Canada has sent a military plane filled with high tech electronic equipment to disrupt the activities of violent gangs on the rampage in the country, officials said this week.

The Canadian said at the weekend that it had received permission from what is left of Haiti’s largely collapsed government to do so as the city and other parts of the country remain paralyzed by gangland and other forms of violence.

A government statement said a CP-140 aircraft which is already in use will conduct runs “to disrupt the activities of gangs. For the security of the operation we will not make any further comment on this mission, which is done in collaboration and with the agreement of the government of Haiti,” the Canadian mission said.

Canada’s intervention at this level comes amid a spate of kidnappings, lootings, executions of ordinary citizens and even police officers in the city and various parts of the island. Local newspapers at the weekend reported that former security minister Pierre Buteau is among those who have been abducted in recent weeks by gangs. Police have reported on the slayings of more than 70 officers in recent weeks as marauding gangs fight for control of various parts of the country. In Gonaives City, Mayor Donald Diogene Monday appealed to police officers to return to work and help maintain law and order. The officers have largely stayed at home, protesting the killings of at least six of their colleagues in recent weeks. “While grieving the loss of your brothers who fell in horrible conditions, don’t give up because the people are counting on you,” he said.

Caribbean Community leaders who appear to have been beaten down by decades of conflict and political troubles in Haiti, are to meet for their mid-year summit in The Bahamas next week. No other regional member state has indicated plans to contribute to a task force if a decision is made in the coming weeks.

The meeting will take place in the midst of efforts by the administration of Prime Minister Phillip Davis to cope with a Haitian refugee crisis, control and restrict the growth of Haitian shanty communities on tourism islands and court challenges to local laws that prevent anyone being born in The Bahamas to a foreign parent from obtaining citizenship. The citizenship issue is before the British Privy Council of law lords, which is the apex or highest court for the Bahamas. A decision is expected shortly. Arguments were heard in London mid last month.

Bahamian officials say they will raise the Haiti crisis issue and hope for extensive discussion as the country “has a Haiti problem.” Official estimates place the number of Haitians in the country at about 30 percent of the population of just over 350,000 people.

Attorney General Ryan Pinder last week asked the local courts for permission to demolish a Haitian shack city that is emerging on Abaco Island, popular with tourists year round.

“The office of the attorney general filed a summons seeking permission to demolish the expansion of a shanty town in Abaco and at two locations in New Providence.I am coordinating a cross-government response with the senior leadership of the defence force, the ministry of Imimigration, the police force, the ministry of works, and the attorney’s general office.. In the coming days, I will outline further steps on immigration, focusing on enforcement, protection of our borders and international cooperation,” PM Davis said.

Haiti is indeed expected to be a main agenda item for leaders coming in the wake of the action taken by Canada and the offer from Jamaica which has not so far received much support from other members of the 15-nation CARICOM bloc.