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Hip hop star records UN messages to urge Haitians to turn away from crime

Hip hop star records UN messages to urge Haitians to turn away from crime

Wyclef Jean performing at the United Nations (file photo)
The Grammy Award-winning Haitian hip hop artist Wyclef Jean has taken to the airwaves of his native country to urge his compatriots to stop committing crimes in a series of advertisements created by the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the impoverished Caribbean country.

In the Creole-language audio messages, recorded for free at a studio operated by the mission, known as MINUSTAH, Mr. Jean focuses on the crimes of kidnapping, rape and “restavek,” or the local practice of using children as slave labour.

“If you love Wyclef, that means you love Haiti,” the musician says in one of the public service announcements (PSAs). “So you should not be raping women, kidnapping people and children, because there can be no excuse for doing so. I reject these evil practices.”

MINUSTAH has distributed the ads over the past two months to more than 20 radio and television stations across the country to boost public awareness at a time when Haitian authorities are dealing with a sharp spike in crimes, particularly kidnappings of children.

Last month the mission and the Haitian National Police (HNP) announced they were setting up roadblocks and motorized patrols around the country to try to combat the crime wave.

The scripts for the ads were largely written by Jean Buteau Remarque of MINUSTAH’s child protection unit and were drawn in part from the lyrics of Mr. Jean’s music.

Massimo Toschi, a child protection adviser with the mission, told the UN News Centre today that the proposal for the advertisements emerged late last year during talks between Mr. Jean – who runs his own non-governmental organization (NGO) in Haiti – and senior MINUSTAH officials about the latest developments in the country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.