Cameraman detained without charge

New York, June 2, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed that Haiti’s transitional government has detained a cameraman without charge. Officials have also closed a radio and television station owned by the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, which was founded by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

On Friday, May 28, police arrested Aryns Laguerre, a cameraman with the television station Télé Ti Moun, in the capital, Port-au-Prince. According to Guyler Delva, secretary-general of the Haitian Journalists Association, Laguerre is being held without charge.

Delva met with police officers on Saturday, May 29, who said they found four bullets in one of Laguerre’s pockets, and that he was being detained for further investigation. Laguerre denied that he was carrying any bullets, according to Delva. The Haitian government has given no explanation about the arrest.

CPJ tried to reach Justice Minister Bernard Gousse and police Chief Leon Charles, but they were unavailable for comment.

Station shuttered
According to local press reports, on May 18, a justice of the peace and several police officers closed the offices of Radio and Télé Ti Moun and would not allow employees into the building. The government has not given any reason for the closure.

On March 1, anti-Aristide activists ransacked the Télé Ti Moun offices after Aristide left Haiti on February 29.

Since the uprising that led to Aristide’s departure began on February 5, pro-Aristide radio stations around the country have been attacked. CPJ has documented three cases in which journalists working for these stations have been illegally detained by former Haitian soldiers.

“It is critical in this period of political and social instability that Haitians receive and disseminate information freely,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on Haitian authorities to release Laguerre and reopen Télé Ti Moun.”