Miami, August 4, 2020 — Haitian authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the shooting attack on journalist Setoute Yvens and the death threats to journalist Pradel Alexandre and identify and prosecute those involved, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On July 28 around 8:45 p.m. in the Drouillard neighborhood of the Cité-Soleil commune in Port-au-Prince, Yvens, a journalist and camera operator for Radio Télé Mégastar, was returning home from work on a motorcycle when two armed men forced him to pull over, according to news reports and Jacques Desrosiers, secretary general of the Association of Haitian Journalists (AHJ), who spoke with CPJ via messaging app. The two men accused Yvens of having published information about them in his reporting on criminal acts in the area, according to the same sources, which did not provide additional details.
Yvens was able to escape into a vehicle that was driving by at the moment of the attack, leaving his motorcycle behind. The motorcycle, which has a Radio Télé Mégastar logo on it, was shot three times, Yvens verified after he retrieved the motorcycle with the help of the police, according to the reports.
Separately, on the same day, the alleged leader of a criminal gang operating in the Savien locality, in the commune of Petite Rivière in the Artibonite department, threatened to kill Alexandre on air during a live interview with Radio Delta Stéréo station, according to news reports and a statement by AJH published on July 31, a copy of which was sent to CPJ by Desrosiers. The alleged leader said he was angered over reporting by Alexandre, a correspondent for Radio Nationale d’Haiti (RNH) in Saint-Marc and general coordinator of the Federation of Journalists of Artibonite, which linked the alleged leader to kidnappings in the region, the sources said.
“The shooting attack on Setoute Yvens and the death threats to Pradel Alexandre show that authorities in Haiti have failed to improve the grave situation for the media,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna, from New York. “Authorities must back up their public condemnation by immediately taking steps to identify and punish those behind these unacceptable acts of violence against journalists.”
CPJ called the Haitian Judicial Police for comment on August 3 and 4, but the calls went to an answering machine.
On July 30, the office of the secretary of state for communications published a statement condemning the attack on Yvens and the threats to Alexandre, stating that “the Government will do everything in its power to fight against insecurity and banditry,” and inviting the journalists to file complaints with the courts “so that the perpetrators of these acts can be identified and punished.”
Yvens told Vant Bef Info on July 28 that he was planning on filing a complaint over the incident, which he described as “attempted murder.” Alexandre filed a complaint with the investigative office of the Saint-Marc Court of First Instance against the alleged gang leader, according to the July 31 statement by AHJ.
In November 2019, CPJ and Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter to Haitian authorities urging them to investigate attacks on journalists, including the 2019 killings of journalists Pétion Rospide and Néhémie Joseph, which remain unsolved. CPJ has not received a reply to the letter.