Haitian radio journalist shot to death

New York, May 18, 2007—Haitian authorities must conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the murder of radio journalist Alix Joseph, who was gunned down on Wednesday night in the northern city of Gonaïves, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ is investigating possible links between Joseph’s murder and his professional work.

At 9:30 p.m., two unidentified men approached Joseph, station manager and host of a cultural show on local Radio-Télé Provinciale, as he was sitting in a car outside his wife’s house in Gonaïves, 105 miles (170 kilometers) north of Port-au-Prince, according to press reports and CPJ interviews. The station’s director, Frantz Justin Altidor, told CPJ that Joseph’s wife ran for help when she saw the two men pull out their weapons. Moments later, neighbors found the journalist’s body lying outside his car, Altidor said. He had been shot at least 11 times, according to Haitian and international press reports.

Joseph hosted a popular Sunday morning program that featured music and news about cultural activities in Gonaïves, Altinor said. According to Altinor, Joseph managed the daily work of the radio station, and often filled in as host of the station’s daily news program. Additionally a high school philosophy teacher, Joseph was active in local cultural organizations, Altinor said.

Altidor said that in March he received an anonymous call from a man who warned him that he did not like Radio-Télé Provinciale’s stand on the disarmament of local gangs. Joseph told Altidor that he also had received similar phone calls at the radio station but did not pay attention to them. According to Altidor, Joseph had been recently threatened by an individual with whom he had a financial dispute unrelated to his journalism.

Local authorities are investigating the murder, Altidor said.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Alix Joseph’s family, colleagues and friends,” said CPJ Executive Director, Joel Simon. “We call on Haitian authorities to conduct a prompt and through inquiry into his death, and to bring all those responsible to justice.”

According to the Haitian press, violence between rival gangs in Gonaïves has escalated in the last few months. In January, CPJ documented the murder of Haitian photographer Jean-Rémy Badio, who was gunned down outside his home in Port-au-Prince after receiving several death threats from local gang members.