A police officer aims at demonstrators during protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 8, 2021. Two journalists were shot while covering those protests. (Reuters/Jeanty Junior Augustin)

Journalists Alvarez Destiné and Méus Jeanril shot as police and armed forces disperse protest in Haiti

Miami, February 9, 2021 — Haitian authorities should thoroughly investigate the shootings of journalists Alvarez Destiné and Méus Jeanril, identify those responsible, and hold them to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday afternoon, in the Champs-des-Mars area of Port-au-Prince, the capital, unidentified attackers shot Destiné and Jeanril while they were covering protests calling for President Jovenel Moïse to step down, according to media reports and Jacques Desrosiers, secretary general of the Association of Haitian Journalists, a local trade group, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

The shootings occurred as members of the Haitian National Police and the Armed Forces fired live ammunition to disperse demonstrators, according to reports. According to those reports, the demonstrators threw stones, but did not fire any weapons.

Destiné, owner of the internet broadcaster Actualités Locales TV, where he also works as a reporter, was shot in the hand; Jeanril, a reporter for the online television channel Tele Pam, was shot in the stomach, according to Desrosiers. Both were rushed to the Bernard Mevs Hospital; Destiné was released yesterday evening, but Jeanril is in critical condition and awaiting surgery, Desrosiers said.

In November 2019, CPJ and Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter to Haitian authorities urging them to investigate multiple shootings of journalists covering protests.

“Once again, journalists covering protests in Haiti face deadly violence. Haitian authorities must take serious measures to ensure that the press can work without fear of being shot,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “Journalists Alvarez Destiné and Méus Jeanril’s shooters must be identified as quickly as possible and held to account.”

CPJ called the Haitian National Police and the Armed Forces for comment, but no one answered. Jodel Lessage, Commander in Chief of the Haitian Armed Forces, issued a statement denying that members of the Armed Forces were involved in the shootings, saying such allegations were “purely false and totally erroneous information, knowingly conveyed for the purpose of manipulating public opinion.”

The incidents CPJ documented in 2019 included the wounding of journalist Chery Dieu-Nalio after Senator Jean Marie Ralph Féthière fired a pistol into a crowd of demonstrators, and the shooting of camera operator Edmond Agenor Joseph by a police officer during clashes in Port-au-Prince. Haitian authorities did not reply to the letter.