Crime in Haiti
Rates of crime in Haiti are generally lower than many of its neighboring countries, though crime is prevalent in earthquake survivor camps. The illegal drug trade in Haiti has encouraged violent crime.Generally, crimes are committed by Haitians against other Haitians, although occasionally foreigners have been victimized.
Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of three to four individuals, and may occasionally be confrontational and gratuitously violent. Criminals sometimes will seriously injure or kill those who resist their attempts to commit crime. In robberies or home invasions, it is not uncommon for the assailants to beat or shoot the victim in order to limit the victim's ability to resist.
High-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area include Croix-des-Bouquets, Carrefour, Bel Air, Martissant, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale#1, the airport road (Boulevard Toussaint L'Ouverture) and its adjoining connectors to the New ("American") Road via Route Nationale#1 . This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas Road area and Pétionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.
Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in criminal activity. Haiti's Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. People attending Carnival events or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured and killed. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent.
Roving musical bands called "rah-rahs" operate during the period from New Year's Day through Carnival. The potential for injury and the destruction of property during rah-rahs is high. A mob mentality can develop unexpectedly leaving people and cars engulfed and at risk. During Carnival, rah-rahs continuously form without warning; some rah-rahs have identified themselves with political entities, lending further potential for violence.
The Haitian police are understaffed, poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. There are continued allegations of police complicity in criminal activity. The unsatisfactory response and enforcement capabilities of the Haitian national police and the weakness of the judiciary frustrate many victims of crime in Haiti.