HAITI


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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press



JANUARY 14, 2005
Posted: January 27, 2005

Claude Bernard Serant, Le Nouvelliste
Jonel Juste, Le Nouvelliste
ATTACKED

Serant and Juste, reporters with the Port-au-Prince-based daily Le Nouvelliste, were beaten and robbed while covering an operation by U.N. peacekeepers in a shantytown in Haiti's capital. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti was removing burned vehicles and wreckage used by gangs as roadblocks in slums around the capital.

Local press reports said several unidentified assailants attacked Serant and Juste after covering one such operation in Bel Air, a stronghold of militants loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Both reporters suffered minor injuries. They were treated in a local hospital and later released.

Le Nouvelliste reported the assailants left a message on Juste's tape recorder that said: "Don't come back here. The next time you will loose your skin."

More than 100 people have been killed in Haiti's capital since September 30, when Aristide activists stepped up protests to demand his return from exile in South Africa.

FEBRUARY 3, 2005
Posted: February 10, 2005

Raoul Saint-Louis, Radio Megastar
ATTACKED

Saint-Louis, a reporter with the private station Radio Megastar, was wounded in the arm in a drive-by shooting in front of the station's studios in the capital, Port-au-Prince. He has since moved from his home in fear for his life, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Gunmen firing from a moving vehicle shot Saint-Louis, co-host of a news show, as he was standing in front of Megastar studios minutes before his broadcast was to begin, Guyler Delva, secretary-general of the Haitian Journalists Association, told CPJ.

Saint-Louis, who was with his wife and a colleague at the time, was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for his wounds. The journalist said he had recently received telephone threats after criticizing Haiti's transitional government for failing to crack down on corruption, the AP reported. Government officials have criticized Megastar for giving airtime to shantytown residents, Delva said.


APRIL 4, 2005
Posted: April 8, 2005

Robenson Laraque, Tele Contact
KILLED—CONFIRMED

Laraque, a reporter with the private radio station Tele Contact, died in a Cuban hospital from injuries suffered while observing a March 20 clash between UN troops and members of the disbanded Haitian military in the city of Petit-Go‚ve. The confrontation began after the ex-soldiers occupied the police station in the southwestern city. The Associated Press reported that three people, including a Sri Lankan peacekeeper, died in the gun battle.

Laraque and several colleagues were on the nearby balcony of Tele Contact's offices, when the journalist was struck by two shots to the head and neck, the AP said. Laraque was taken to a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, where he received initial care. The injuries were so severe that he was transferred to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, and later to Cuba.

Wilner Saint-Preux, a journalist for Tele Contact, told CPJ that Laraque and other station reporters were trying to cover the skirmish. Witnesses reported that the shots appeared to have been fired by UN peacekeepers, Saint-Preux said. Fritz Ariel Nelson, a Tele Contact editor, said witnesses reported that Laraque was holding a microphone at the time.

David Beer, the UN Civilian Police Commissioner in Haiti, told CPJ that the incident was under investigation. "We take this very seriously," he said in an interview shortly after the journalist's death. "We are trying to determine what happened and which side the bullet came from. As soon as we have the results, we will make them public."

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti operates under a UN mandate that grants it the authority to "ensure a secure and stable environment within which the constitutional and political process in Haiti can take place" and to "protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence."

JULY 14, 2005
Posted: September 2, 2005

Jacques Roche, Le Matin
KILLED—UNCONFIRMED

Roche, cultural editor with the Port-au-Prince-based daily Le Matin who was kidnapped on July 10, was found dead four days later in a slum in Haiti's capital. His body was handcuffed, riddled with bullets, and mutilated, according to international press reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the murder to determine whether it was related to Roche's work..

The journalist was taken from his car in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Nazon, the Haitian press reported. Roche, who was also a poet, hosted a local television station show for the organization Group of 184, which led calls for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's resignation in 2004. His captors demanded US$250,000 in ransom, The Associated Press said.

According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the kidnappers who initially took
Roche later sold the journalist to another gang that wanted him dead for sympathizing with the Group of 184. "It's not clear the motive behind Jacques' murder," the Florida daily reported.

On July 21, Haitian authorities arrested Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and figure in the Lavalas party of ousted President Aristide. Authorities accused him of involvement in Roche's slaying. The priest was jailed but not immediately charged.

Aristide supporters said the priest's detention is politically motivated. Amnesty International labeled Jean-Juste a "prisoner of conscience."

Over the past year, Haiti's capital has been plagued by a wave of violence and abductions. The AP reported that more than 700 people have been killed in Port-au-Prince, including 40 police, during unrest over the past 10 months.

Local journalists have limited their movements in response to the pervasive climate of lawlessness.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005

Kevin Pina, KPFA
Jean Ristil, Associated Press
IMPRISONED

A U.S. filmmaker and a Haitian reporter who were covering a police search in the capital Port-au-Prince were arrested. Kevin Pina, a filmmaker and correspondent with "Flashpoints," a California-based radio show produced by station KPFA Berkeley , and Jean Ristil, a Haitian working for The Associated Press, were held in police custody for four days on suspicion of showing disrespect to a magistrate and resisting authority. They were released without charge.

Pina told CPJ he was arrested while filming Judge Jean Perez Paul and police officers who were searching the church of the Rev. Jean Juste, a jailed priest who is considered a possible Lavalas presidential candidate in elections in November 2005. Pina is a supporter of Lavalas, the party of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The judge had said that Pina hit him while police tried to remove him from the church, the AP reported. Pina denied this.