Miami, August 13, 2019--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned a shooting attack on Haitian journalist Luckson Saint-Vil in southern Haiti last week, and urged Haitian authorities to investigate threats against Saint-Vil and identify and prosecute the attackers.
Unidentified individuals shot at Saint-Vil’s vehicle around 9:00 p.m. on August 6 while he was driving along National Route No. 2 in Flond, Léogâne, in southern Haiti, after leaving work, according to local news reports. At least seven bullets struck the car, including the windshield on the driver’s side, Saint-Vil told CPJ by phone, adding that the car had a large sticker on the front identifying it as a vehicle belonging to his employer, news website Loop Haiti. Saint-Vil said he escaped unharmed and proceeded to contact authorities and file a police complaint.
Saint-Vil, who works as a reporter for Loop Haiti, told CPJ that the attack came days after he filed a complaint with judicial police regarding death threats he had received via text message. According to Saint-Vil, the threats were related to a report he published on news website Ayibo Post on December 15, 2018, documenting the relationship between violent gangs and authorities in the commune of Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
On July 22, another Haitian journalist, Kendi Zidor, survived a similar shooting attack while driving home in Port-au-Prince, as documented by CPJ. At the time, he told CPJ that he had received death threats via text message since publishing an editorial critical of local authorities.
"The armed attack on Luckson Saint-Vil, the second of its kind in Haiti in less than a month, highlights the extremely serious risks for Haitian journalists reporting on sensitive topics," said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. "Haitian authorities cannot keep standing idly while journalists are violently attacked. They must show they are taking decisive action by investigating and ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice.”
Saint-Vil told CPJ that he had received threatening text messages, including death threats, after several television appearances following his receipt in June of the Philippe Chaffanjon Prize, an annual award for French and Haitian multimedia features. Saint-Vil’s award-winning piece was the report, “Cité Soleil: the underside of a fragile peace,” published on Ayibo Post in December 2018; it described how armed gangs controlled the 34 neighborhoods of the Cité Soleil commune with the alleged collusion of authorities. In one message, which CPJ reviewed, an unidentified individual told the journalist that: “If you don’t halt your publications you will suffer as other journalists did before you … There were many great journalists before you, and you have seen the fate that was reserved for them.”
Saint-Vil said he took the threats seriously and filed a complaint with the Central Direction of the Judicial Police (DCPJ), including the phone number from which the threats came.
Saint-Vil told CPJ that he filed a formal complaint for “attempted murder” with judicial police yesterday.
On August 7, Haiti’s Ministry of Communications issued a statement on its Facebook page condemning the attack.
Today, CPJ called the Haitian Judicial Police for comment, but the calls went unanswered. CPJ was unable to contact the Haitian National Police through its website, which displayed an error message.
In addition to the attempted shootings, one journalist has been shot and another killed in Haiti in 2019, according to CPJ research; CPJ is investigating to determine whether the killing was work-related.