Haiti Police Break Up Demo Protesting Worsening Crime

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Police in Haiti fired tear gas Monday to disperse a protest over an uptick in violent crime in the capital, sparking alarm from rights groups.

"Every day people are killed, either with guns or knives, in broad daylight in the poorer neighborhoods," said Marie-Rosy Auguste Ducena, who works with Haiti's National Network for the Defense of Human Rights.

The group logged 54 murders in the capital alone in May and June.

"The state authorities, rather than listen to the voice of the people demanding a change to the security situation, prefer to show their readiness to establish a totalitarian state in a country where freedom of speech has no place," she said.

Police used large amounts of tear gas and fired shots in the air to disperse the gathering of around 200 people in front of the Justice Ministry, an AFP journalist at the scene confirmed.

The police action came a week after protesters tried to establish a sit-in in front of the ministry but were chased off by police officers who tore up their banners.

Haiti had been racked by months of protests against the government, which demonstrators accuse of widespread corruption, before the coronavirus hit the country.

Monday's demonstrators wore T-shirts reading "We want to live."

"These days, you don't live in Haiti," said one demonstrator, Pascale Solages. "You just try not to die, and that is different."

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