Escaped Criminals Raping, 'Running Wild' in Haiti

With prisons empty, outlaws abound in Port-au-Prince
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2010 12:44 PM CST
Tents made of bedsheets, tarps, and sticks in a makeshift refugee camp in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

(Newser) – Police believe horrific crimes are becoming commonplace in Haiti’s tent cities, as prisoners who escaped during the quake prey on survivors. “Bandits are taking advantage to harass and rape women and young girls under the tents,” Haiti’s police chief tells the Times of London. The earthquake destroyed the country’s main prison, and the chief says about 7,000 inmates escaped. “It took us five years to apprehend them. Today they are running wild.”

It’s unclear how common rapes are, but women’s organizations have received numerous cases reported. Even before the quake, the country had just 8,000 police officers, and many have died. The UN’s human rights chief warned yesterday that gangs and child traffickers were taking advantage of reduced security, and that several children have gone missing from Haitian hospitals.

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