By Bryan Boggiano
The Haiti Criminal Collusion Act of 2023, co-sponsored by Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20), was passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
It will go to the Senate for their vote.
The legislation, also known as H.R. 1684, would require the secretary of state to submit an annual report to Congress about the ties between criminal gangs and political and economic elites in the Caribbean nation.
According to a press release, it would also impose sanctions on those involved in criminal activities.
H.R. 1684 would also identify how collusion threatens the Haitian people and the interests of the United States. It would also require both countries to determine how to address any threats.
“By shining a light on the connection between these violent criminal enterprises and corrupt political and economic leaders, this critical legislation will better address the chaos that has engulfed Haiti,” she said in a press release.
According to H.R. 1684, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Service found human rights violations increased by more than 333 percent between July 2018 and December 2019.
The legislation states gang activity has worsened since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021.
According to the act, as of October 2021, 167 criminal gangs exert territorial control in up to two-thirds of the country. Among the high-profile criminal groups are the G9 Family and Allies and 400 Mawozo gangs.
Reported gang-related violenrimes to include murder, rape, arms and drug trafficking, racketeering, and kidnapping.
In the first ten months of 2021, there were 803 reported kidnappings, including more than 16 U.S. citizens. This makes it the nation with the highest per-capita kidnapping rate in the world.
The act also states criminal activity in the country continued to escalate in 2023. The rise in criminal activity also led to the displacement of more than 19,000 people.
“Haiti’s problems should be solved by Haitians, but Haiti lacks the necessary tools to address this ever-worsening chaos,” she said. “It’s our responsibility as neighbors and allies of Haiti, as Americans, to help Haiti strengthen its institutions and preserve the rule of law,”
On March 21, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-5) introduced the bill. McCormick was an original cosponsor, along with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX-10).
Cherfilus-McCormick is the only Haitian-American Congress member and is the second ever elected. She is a co-chair of the Haiti Caucus and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus’s Haiti Working Group.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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