Defenseurs Plus is concerned about threats to press freedom in Haiti

The Collective Defenseurs Plus learned with emotion of the odious scene which took place within the police station of Delmas 33, on Sunday October 30, 2022, involving police officers during the naming of a journalist reporter. According to the information gathered, press workers have been victims of police brutality within the police station itself. Some came out injured under the physical attacks of certain police officers, and the journalist Romelson VILSAINT unfortunately lost his life. Defenseurs Plus is concerned about the threats to press freedom and calls on democratic organizations to show the greatest vigilance and concerted action.

Defenseurs Plus recalls that journalists must not be intimidated in the course of their work, and must benefit from the protection of the national police. A journalist facing a police officer must feel protected, even more so in a police station. A journalist presumed to have committed an offense or a crime may be apprehended by the police, exclusively within the framework of the law. Defenseurs Plus condemns in this sense the assault and battery inflicted on journalists by police officers, as well as the murder of the journalist who was fatally injured at the police station on Sunday, October 30, 2022. It demands real administrative and judicial investigations on the part of the general inspectorate and the judicial authorities in order to judge and punish the culprits, in accordance with the law.
Indeed, press workers are struggling to carry out their work in Haiti during the year 2022. Seven (7) journalists have been murdered in ten (10) months. Four (4) were abducted, kidnapped, mistreated and their parents had to pay to obtain their release after several weeks. Journalists from Les Cayes, Gonaïves, Jacmel, Port-de-Paix, Port-au-Prince and Jérémie constantly draw the attention of human rights organizations to the death, kidnapping and beating threats that ‘they are the object of the authorities, armed groups and other people close to the de facto government. Unfortunately some threats have been carried out. This is the case of the journalist host of the program Gran Lakou in Les Cayes, Mr. Garry TESS, kidnapped on October 18, 2022 and his corpse found in putrefaction on October 24, 2022. Until now, the government of the Republic and the judicial authorities, did not react, or even carried out an investigation to punish the criminals.

Freedom of the press, which derives from the freedoms of expression and opinion, is considered one of the fundamental rights in so-called democratic societies. This guarantees journalists the possibility of freely investigating and informing citizens on all topics. For the time being, all the indices show an alarming situation of press freedom in Haiti. Press freedom is threatened when journalists work under threats and intimidation, when they are the victims of assassinations, kidnappings, disappearances and other forms of attack, as is the recent case of journalist Roberson ALPHONSE Magik 9 and Le Nouvelliste newspaper, who was shot on October 25. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the freedom of the press in its article 19 which is based on the freedom of opinion and expression. And the Haitian Constitution in its article 28-1 stipulates that the journalist freely exercises his profession within the framework of the law. This exercise cannot be subject to any authorization or censorship except in the event of war.

Thus, Defenseurs Plus, an organization for the defense and promotion of human rights, including freedom of the press, supports the protection of press workers and shows solidarity with the entire corporation. The struggles for the effectiveness of this freedom have been arduous and long, the maintenance of this constitutional and generational achievement remains necessary. Defenseurs Plus also presents its sympathies to the parents and allies of the journalists killed, and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured during the unfortunate events, on Sunday, October 30, 2022.

Done in Port-au-Prince, November 4, 2022
Chaina Etienne
Program Director
Phone: 509 38 92 7055

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