Gang members kidnapped at least 20 people in a week including Quisqueya University’s Director of Communications Alain Sauval (top), journalist Alexander Galvez (bottom left) and James Philistin.

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Kidnappers have abducted at least 20 people, many of them prominent locals, in the last week. According to media outlets Vant Bèf Info and Le Nouvelliste, an ex-wife of former President René Préval, a Frenchman, two journalists and four Barbancourt workers are among those reportedly taken.

Kidnappings have increased overall in the past few months, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, known by its French acronym CARDH. Gédeon Jean, an attorney with CARDH, told the local daily Le Nouvelliste that the watchgroup had tallied 117 cases in September and 140 in October. From January to October this year, at least 803 people were kidnapped. Among them are 54 foreign nationals from four countries.

In the last week alone, at least a dozen known kidnappings took place. On Nov. 23, four people were kidnapped included James Philistin, the older brother of Marc Guerson Philistin.

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.