Canada sanctions two Haitians over alleged support for armed gangs

(Reuters) -Canada on Friday sanctioned a former Haitian lawmaker and an associate of a Haitian ex-president for reputedly protecting armed gangs and enabling illegal activities including drug trafficking, Ottawa's foreign minister said.

Canada said Arnel Belizaire, a former legislator, and Charles Saint-Remy, adviser and brother-in-law of former President Michel Martelly, were using their status as members of the Haitian elite to support gangs.

"The sanctions imposed by Canada are intended to pressure those responsible for violence, including widespread sexual violence, and instability in Haiti," Foreign Minister Melanie Joly's office said in a statement.

"These people must stop funding and supplying weapons to criminal gangs in Haiti."

Belizaire and Saint-Remy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Friday's sanctions add to others already imposed by Ottawa, including measures taken against Martelly and two other prominent Haitian politicians as well as three high-profile Haitian businessmen.

Haitian gangs in September created a humanitarian crisis by blocking the entrance to a fuel terminal, leading to shortages of gasoline and diesel that halted most economic activity just as the country reported a renewed outbreak of cholera.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth, Susan Heavey, and Steve Scherer; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Deepa Babington)