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Men look at protesters marching to demand an investigation into what they say is the alleged misuse of Venezuela-sponsored PetroCaribe funds, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, November 18, 2018.  © REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

(Washington, DC) – Haitian authorities should ensure the prompt, thorough, and independent investigation of killings that took place during the February 2019 demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said today.  

Thirty-four people were killed and 102 injured – including 23 police officers – in the course of these demonstrations as police sought to patrol and control the crowds and remove barricades protesters had erected, according to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti. 

“Haitian authorities should investigate the use of force by police during these protests, and ensure that any police officer who used excessive force is held accountable,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

Thousands of Haitians took to the streets in October and November 2018, in response to revelations that billions of US dollars meant for infrastructure were missing from the Venezuelan-sponsored PetroCaribe fund. They resumed in early February after the government declared a state of economic emergency, with demonstrators expressing discontent over the cost of living and calling for President Jovenel Moïse to resign.

The UN Mission said that during the October protests, police using excessive force injured 44 protestors and killed 3 others. It also reported allegations that police using excessive force caused 21 casualties, including 6 deaths, during the November protests.

The government announced in January that it would pursue civil and criminal action against individuals implicated in the PetroCaribe scandal. 

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