Haitian journalists to mobilize against attacks

After an increase in murders, attacks and criminalization against journalists, they will mobilize in the capital Port-au-Prince to demand guarantees for life

November 12, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch

On Sunday, November 13, dozens of journalists and communicators will mobilize in the center of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The press professionals will march to the Delmas 33 police station where the journalist Romelson Vilsaint of Radio Télé Zenith was executed on October 30 by the Haitian National Police when he denounced the arbitrary detention of journalist Dimanche Robeste and four others.

In recent months, in the midst of strong protests and mobilizations of the Haitian people against the economic crisis, the de facto government of Ariel Henry, and the threat of foreign intervention, the attacks against journalists and social leaders by the police and paramilitary groups have increased.

So far in 2022, according to data from the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), eight journalists have been murdered in the Caribbean country.

The most recent was on November 5, 2022, when Fritz Dorilas, co-host of a Radio Megastar program “Le droit, la loi et la justice”, was murdered near his home in the Tabarre neighborhood, northeast of Prince Port. On October 30, Vilsaint was assassinated; Tess Garry, of Radio Lebon FM, was assassinated on October 24; Frantzsen Charles of FS NEWS and Tayson Lartigue of Tijèn Jounalis were assassinated on September 11; Maxihen Lazarre, from Rois des Infos, was assassinated on February 23;  Wilguens Louissaint, a contributor to various digital media outlets, and Amady John Wesley, of the Écoute FM radio station, were murdered on January 6, 2022.

In addition to that, several others have suffered attacks in recent weeks, such as Roberson Alphonse from the portal Le Nouvelliste and Radio Magik 9 (100.9 Fm). On October 25, Alphonse was shot by gang members in the area of ​​Delmas 40B.

Journalist Roubens “le Cayen” was also wounded by police who shot him with bullets on October 30 when Robeste and four others were arbitrarily arrested for “public disorder and rebellion.”

Writer Jean Clebert Eloius also suffered an assassination attempt on November 3 when armed groups intercepted his car as he was on his way to the airport. His two companions, who were also shot, died from their wounds.

For Jackson Jean, Telesur correspondent in Haiti, “It is not something new for journalists and human rights activists to face tear gas and fire bullets during the mobilizations, and facing violence from gangs.”

However, Jean emphasizes, “The concern began to arise a little more within the group of journalists, since in recent months these press workers are the main targets of the gangs and the police.”

In response to this wave of violence, the Online Media Collective (CMEL) launched the call for the march on Sunday, November 13, in memory of the murdered journalists. CMEL also announced that its members will not cover official police activities and initiatives that they want to publicize until the police publish reports on the investigations into the murders. The collective demands that the competent authorities do justice in the cases of journalists and called on Haitian society in general to respect the right of journalists to practice their profession in peace.