Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Message From the Embassy

Warden Message No. 115
Haiti Kidnapping Update for American Citizens

U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince issued the following Warden Message on October 19th, 2010:

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is issuing this Warden Message to alert U.S. citizens that with 2 recent kidnappings over the last week, the incidence of kidnappings of American citizens in Haiti has reached a total of 9 cases so far in calendar year 2010. The incidence of kidnapping in Haiti has diminished from its peak in 2006 when 60 U.S. citizens were reported kidnapped. In 2007, there were 29 reported kidnappings of U.S. citizens, while in 2008 there were 27 reported kidnappings of U.S. citizens. Last year, there were only 2 reported kidnappings of U.S. citizens. Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and the kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender, or age. Some kidnap victims have been killed, shot, sexually assaulted, or physically abused. Many U.S. citizens who were kidnapped reported being beaten and/or raped by their hostage takers. Kidnapping remains the most critical security concern. Kidnappers have frequently targeted children.

Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of two 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. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance without resistance. This recommendation also applies in the event of a kidnapping. Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution at all times and review basic personal security procedures frequently.

In the event of a kidnapping of an American citizen, the family of the victim should immediately contact the Haitian National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Unit (HNP/AKU) at the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire (DCPJ) at: 250-3630, as well as the U.S. Embassy for assistance. During normal working hours, the embassy point of contact (POC) will be the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit, and after hours the POC will be the embassy duty officer, who is responsible for managing assistance from local law enforcement as we well as any additional law enforcement assets. The HNP have normal jurisdiction on kidnapping investigations in Haiti and they work most effectively with international law enforcement assistance. It is strongly advised that the family of the victim designate a trusted family member or friend as negotiator or third party intermediary (TPI) to deal with the kidnappers’ demands. Local and international law enforcement assets will stand ready to provide negotiation assistance to the TPI. It is also strongly advised that the family have available several phone lines and not make any offers to the kidnappers until directed to do so under the advice of law enforcement. If the family does not want law enforcement assistance, then law enforcement assistance will remain on standby throughout the incident.

U.S. citizens are advised to maintain an increased level of vigilance when traveling in and around Port-au-Prince and other major Haitian cities. They should be aware of their surroundings at all times and are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy.

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