Miami, February 14, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Haitian authorities to investigate the shooting of a reporter during an anti-government demonstration and to ensure the safety of journalists covering ongoing protests.
Haitian journalist Robenson Sanon was shot and wounded yesterday in the capital, Port-au-Prince, while covering protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, as reported by local media. Sanon, a correspondent for Reuters in Haiti, told CPJ that he was shot in his right arm during clashes between protesters and police and taken to a hospital where he received medical attention. He was released later yesterday and is home recuperating. Sanon told CPJ he believes he was shot in crossfire by armed demonstrators, not by police.
“Haitian authorities should not use the ongoing demonstrations as an excuse to delay an investigation into the circumstances around Robenson Sanon’s shooting,” said CPJ Central and South America Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “Journalists in Haiti must be able to cover breaking events like protests without facing gunfire or other dangers.”
The press has been the target of several attacks during the recent protests, the secretary general of the Association of Haitian Journalists, Jacques Desrosier, told CPJ.
Over the last week, demonstrators have hit journalists, damaged press vehicles, and tried to take journalists’ equipment, according to a joint statement by three local press freedom groups. The statement said that the offices of the National Television of Haiti have been attacked, agents from the Haitian national police have threatened journalists, equipment has been burned, and there have been instances of broadcast outlets frequencies being jammed.
At least seven people have been killed in the protests, which began on the second anniversary of the start of President Moïse’s mandate, February 7, according to media reports.
Today, CPJ tried to reach the Haitian national police at the phone number posted on their website. An agent provided a different number to call instead. When that number was dialed, an automatic message said that the call could not be received.