UN Panel Releases Investigative Report on Sanctions

By Jake Johnston & Chris Francois, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Oct. 20, 2023

On October 20, the UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the final report of the UN Expert Panel, convened last year to advise the council on its sanctions regime in Haiti. 

The 156-page investigative report details a recent history of high-level government corruption and support for armed groups, painting the picture of a criminal state that not only thwarts progress but actively undermines the rule of law and human rights. 

“Michel Martelly, who served as president from 2011 to 2016, used gangs to expand his influence over neighbourhoods to advance his political agenda, contributing to a legacy of insecurity, the impacts of which are still being felt today,” the Panel wrote. Martelly has already been sanctioned by Canada and spends most of his time living in South Florida. It remains to be seen how the US may react to the report. 

Specifically, the report notes that Martelly “created Base 257, which over time was financed and armed to prevent anti-Government demonstrations.” Further, Martelly “has also used intermediaries to build relationships and negotiate with other gangs, including through foundations and members of his security detail.”

In addition to Martelly, the report focuses on the alleged corrupt actions of former deputy Prophane Victor, former senate president Youri Latortue, Customs Director Romel Bell, and Reynold Deeb — an influential member of the economic elite.

“The Panel has evidence that Reynold Deeb, the Chief Operating Officer at Deka Group, a leading importer of consumer goods, and sanctioned by a Member State, has been financing members of gangs to protect his business and secure the transportation of the commodities he imports,” the report states. Deeb continues to maintain “his grip on the choice of customs officials deployed across several main ports of entry.”

The report also documents the myriad armed groups active in the country, the various alliances and networks among them, and how many have turned into hugely lucrative criminal enterprises involved in arms and drug trafficking. Kidnappings for ransom, the report notes, have become a major revenue source for these groups. 

The report also focuses on public corruption, noting that, “In Haiti, the constant diversion of public funds is one of the primary drivers of violence and a threat to peace, security and stability.” It includes further information on the Petrocaribe scandal, specifically discussing the implication of former president Martelly and former prime minister Laurent Lamothe. 

The Expert Panel’s report is intended to inform UNSC members as they consider expanding the current sanctions regime, which includes only one individual, Jimmy Chérizier, the leader of the G9 alliance of armed groups. Further, the report documents the rampant trafficking of arms, mainly from the United States, and recommends expanding the existing UN arms embargo to include “all non-state actors.”

The Miami Herald has a report detailing many of the revelations; the full report is available here

Though the report documents the devastating increase in violence and criminality over the last two years, it is notable that no current government officials are mentioned. Further, there is no discussion of the role the international community played in supporting the very political actors now under scrutiny. 


Posted Nov. 4, 2023