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Widow of fallen polices officer speaks of life after her husband’s murder

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“It’s hard to live like this when my husband served the country’s police force,” she confided to AyiboPost, in distress

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On June 29, 2021, in Delmas 32, two armed men on motorcycles riddled with bullets the car in which Guerby Geffrard, a member of the 28th promotion of the Haitian National Police (PNH), was in.

The announcement of his death was made, a few hours after his emergency admission to the Bernard Mevs Hospital, by the National Union of Haitian Police Officers (SPNH-17), of which he was the delegate.

At the end of a long struggle for better working conditions within the police, Guerby Geffrard leaves behind his wife and two young children.

The police officer Guerby Geffrard and his child

If two years later, the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the assassination of the police officer is still at a standstill, his family does not yet seem to be over the impasse caused by his departure. “After his death, we encountered a lot of difficulty making ends meet,” says his wife, Josée Exavier, interviewed by AyiboPost.

Exavier said she made numerous attempts to recover her murdered husband’s check with the general directorate of the PNH. But these efforts were unsuccessful, she said.

AyiboPost contacted Garry Desrosiers, the spokesperson for the PNH, to comment on these claims and to enquire about the progress of the investigation. After promising answers, repeated calls to the spokesperson went unanswered.

At the end of a long struggle for better working conditions within the police, Guerby Geffrard leaves behind his wife and two young children.

In the wake of the tragedy, Josée Exavier kept receiving death threats from a series of anonymous callers in the second half of 2021, after speaking at a radio station in the capital, she recounts.

On several occasions, the young lady continued, the voice on the other end of the line threatened to make an attempt on her life and those of her children.

“Strangers went to my children’s school to threaten me,” she confides.

Out of fear, Exavier had to stop going to the school.

These threats did not stop definitively until March 2023, when she left the metropolitan area to settle elsewhere in the country.

Read also: Sous menaces, les policiers qui avaient arrêté Fednel Monchery s’enfuient du pays

Born in Mare Rouge in the North-West department on February 17, 1986, Guerby Geffrard joined the administrative police department in 2018.

In 2020, within the SPNH-17, the thirty-year-old’s profile came into view.

Becoming one of the strident voices who demanded, among other things, salary benefits, a regularly replenished debit card and social benefits for his brothers-in-arms, Guerby Geffrard hit the streets of Port-au- Prince very often.

“He was a police officer with a warrior’s spirit,” Synci Domond, his colleague within the union, tells AyiboPost.

In the wake of the tragedy, after speaking on a radio station in the capital, Josée Exavier kept receiving death threats from a series of anonymous calls in the second half of 2021.

On May 17, 2020, SPNH-17, a group of unionized police officers, was officially presented in Delmas.

Created by a host of officers, this union structure intended to bring to the attention of senior PNH officials the demands of nearly over 10,000 police officers throughout the country.

The SPNH-17, criticized and accused of colluding with the group of police officers known as Fantom 509, was sailing towards opposing horizons with the police institution.

“The SPNH was not well regarded by the Haitian national police officials,” according to Synci Domond, current spokesperson for the union, which counted Yanick Joseph as its general coordinator, Abelson Gros-Nègre as its spokesperson, Guerby Geffrard as deputy delegate, among others.

As a delegate, Guerby Geffrard’s thunderous voice often punctuated demonstrations and police sit-ins.

While he gained notoriety when he joined the police, it must be said that according to those close to him, Guerby Geffrard did not start his professional life as a police officer.

“Guerby Geffrard dabbled in various professions and interests,” according to his wife, Josée Exavier.

Tiler, Karateka, Geffrard also developed an interest in teaching, which led him to the Training Center for Elementary Schools (CFEF) in September 2010.

“Despite his status as a police officer, he always went to the Horacius Laventure high school to work with the children,” recalls his wife.

If two years later, the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the assassination of the police officer is still at a standstill, his family does not yet seem to be over the impasse caused by his departure.

Abelson Gros-Nègre, for his part, retains the image of a responsible professional, faithful to his tasks.

“He was a young man who cultivated a sense of responsibility, who believed in work and who devoted himself body and soul to the well-being of those close to him and the police,” relates the man who was also one of the first founders of SPNH-17 and who, because of his bold and critical words against the former Minister of Justice, Mr. Lucmane Delille, was going to be – according to him – beaten by agents of the General Security Unit of the National Palace (USGPN), imprisoned and ousted from the police institution in September 2020.

The day-to-day work of law enforcement officers is fraught with difficulties. In addition to poor salaries, police officers regularly denounce poor working conditions and demand, among other things, social benefits, an increase in the line of credit, the provision of adequate equipment and the alleviation of logistical problems.

On March 23, 2021, following the death of police officer Pierre Richard Mistal on the street in a clash between PNH officers and the Fantom 509 group, the names of several unionized police officers, including Guerby Geffrard, were circulated in a warrant.

He was a young man who cultivated a sense of responsibility, who believed in work and who devoted himself body and soul to the well-being of those close to him and the police.

Considered “dissidents” within the institution, the motives for the warrant against these law enforcement agents revolved around attempted assassination, destruction of public property and criminal association.

Read also: Opinion | Le SPNH ne peut être une licence pour plus de brigandages

A departure ban was also in place, stamped by the then Government Commissioner of the Port-au-Prince Court of First Instance, Maître Bed-Ford Claude.

On June 29, 2021, Guerby Geffrard went to Delmas 32, his native town, to honor with his presence an event commemorating the death of one of his police friends, when two men on motorcycles shot at the car he was in.

He leaves behind three children, two of whom are from his wife Josée Exavier, aged seven and six respectively.

Determined to be patient, Josée Exavier became active in the rice trade in Port-au-Prince, which she had been doing well before the passing of her husband.

However, the blocking of Canaan’s main roads have undermined her activities and added another layer to her precariousness as a widowed mother who absolutely must feed her orphaned children.

“It’s hard to live like this, when my husband served the country through the police force,” she confided to AyiboPost, distraught.

He leaves behind three children, two of whom are from his wife Josée Exavier, aged seven and six respectively.

His situation is not unique.

Following the death of police officers, their families encounter great difficulty making ends meet.

The decree of July 20, 2022 provides special risk compensation for the benefit of police officers who are victims in the institution’s special operations. In the event that there is a death, the money should be paid to the surviving spouse or cohabiting partner duly registered in the certificate of declaration of cohabitation, and to any minor children. The funeral should be paid for by the State.

Garry Jean-Baptiste, spokesperson for SPNH-17, reports that compensation varies between five hundred thousand and one million gourdes, depending on the accident or the officer’s rank. “And the rest of the fund collected from his insurance, after having been used to organize his funeral, should be paid to his family,” adds Jean-Baptiste who underscores a real “headache” for the families of police officers who seek to receive these expenses.

Some spouses of police officers who died in service also often encounter the pitfalls of sexual blackmail when they try to obtain their husband’s check, according to an investigation released by AyiboPost. They are sometimes raped, harassed or sexually assaulted by employees of the institution.

Read also : Le harcèlement sexuel des veuves de policiers gangrène la PNH

June 29, 2023 marks two years since the death of Guerby Geffrard.

Two years later, the sacred credo “the investigation continues” does not even seem to apply to Guerby Geffrard, explains Synci Domond.

“We have no knowledge of the progress of the investigation, if there ever was one,” says trade unionist Synci Domond to AyiboPost.

By Junior Legrand

© Cover Image : istock


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Junior Legrand est journaliste à AyiboPost depuis avril 2023. Il a été rédacteur à Sibelle Haïti, un journal en ligne.

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