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US deports former coup leader, convicted drug trafficker Guy Philippe back to Haiti

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

One of Haiti’s most controversial figures is back in his troubled homeland after being deported from the United States on Thursday.

Guy Philippe, the former Haitian police commander who led a rebellion in 2004 that overthrew President Jean Bertrand Aristide and then spent nearly a dozen years evading U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, arrived aboard a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement flight along with more than a dozen others deportees. The flight departed from Alexandria, Louisiana, at 5:57 a.m. and arrived in Haiti at 9:49 a.m.

Philippe’s presence was confirmed by the Office of National Migration, which is tasked with receiving deportees returned to Haiti. Upon landing, he was immediately taken into custody by the Haiti’s judicial police.

The ICE flight is the latest deportation trip by the Biden administration, which has been asked by immigration advocates and the United Nations to halt all deportations to Haiti, given the country’s ongoing armed gang and humanitarian crisis.

Tom Cartwright, a refugee advocate who tracks U.S. deportation flights, says despite the demands, Haiti has been averaging about one ICE flight per month since last December, usually with fewer than 50 people onboard.

Since President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration, the U.S. has deported more than 27,200 Haitians back to their country, said Cartwright, who added that Thursday’s flight is the 289th ICE deportation flight under this administration.

 

Guerline Jozef, co-founder of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a San Diego-based immigrant rights group that works with U.S. asylum seekers, said Philippe’s deportation makes no sense in the current context, which includes the Biden administration’s support for an armed force from Kenya to be deployed to Haiti to help the Caribbean nation’s fragile police force combat gangs.

“It is in fact very contradictory to the U.S. government’s own narrative and will further destabilize Haiti,” she said. “This is a clear example of how U.S. foreign policies toward Haiti continue to be a major contributing factor to the destabilization of Haiti.”

Prior to this extradition to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges, Philippe was the subject of a Haitian police arrest warrant after being accused of involvement in a deadly 2016 attack on the police headquarters in the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes. At least six people were killed including one police officer.

Sources told the Miami Herald Philippe was being held on that warrant Thursday after he was taken to the headquarters of the Haitian judicial police. It was not immediately clear if he would be transferred to prison or allowed to go home.

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