In Haiti, photographer gunned down after receiving gang threats

New York, January 25, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Haitian authorities today to fully investigate the murder of photographer Jean-Rémy Badio, who was gunned down outside his home in Port-au-Prince on Friday after receiving several death threats from local gang members. CPJ is investigating whether Badio’s murder is linked to his professional work.

Badio, a freelancer, was shot to death at 4 p.m. in Port-au-Prince’s southern Martissant slum, Haitian press freedom advocate Guyler Delva told CPJ. Fred Blaise, a U.N. spokesman, said gang members were suspected of the shooting, The Associated Press reported. Badio had been threatened with death by local gang members since October 2006, according to colleagues interviewed by CPJ.

Badio—a member of Delva’s press group, SOS Journalistes, and the Haitian Association of Photojournalists (APH)—had photographed gang confrontations in Martissant, where he lived with his family. APH sold his pictures to local dailies, including the Port-au-Prince newspaper Le Matin, a source told CPJ.

Rival gangs have been battling in Martissant for months, AP reported. According to the Port-au-Prince-based Radio Métropole, the escalating gang violence has made Martissant one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of the Haitian capital. CPJ research shows that gangs in Port-au-Prince allow only those journalists who they deem friendly to report in neighborhoods they control. Delva said gang members seldom allow journalists to take their pictures for fear of being identified by local authorities.

Badio’s colleagues, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation, said that the photographer had problems with local gang members who believed that he was a police informant.

“We urge local authorities to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation into the murder of Jean-Rémy Badio,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.

Blaise told reporters that no arrests have been made, AP said. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis said he had authorized U.N. peacekeepers to increase patrols in Martissant. Still, Badio’s wife and children were forced to flee their home after receiving further threats from Martissant’s gangs, Delva told CPJ.