Haitian journalist Maximilien Lazard is seen after being shot and killed by police while he covered a protest in Port-au-Prince on February 23, 2022. (Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol)

Haitian police kill 1 journalist, injure 2 at protest

Miami, February 24, 2022 – Haitian authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the police killing of journalist Maximilien Lazard and wounding of journalists Sony Laurore and Yves Moïse, and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

At about 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23, Haitian National Police officers opened fire on a protest by textile workers demanding a higher minimum wage in Port-au-Prince, the capital, killing Lazard and injuring the other two journalists, according to media reports and Robest Dimanche, spokesperson for the Haitian Collective of Online Media, a local journalists’ guild, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Lazard was covering the demonstration for the YouTube and Facebook-based broadcaster Roi des Infos, and a photo posted to Facebook by his employer shows that he was wearing his press credential at the time of the attack. He died at a local hospital shortly after being shot, according to those reports and Dimanche.

Laurore, a reporter for online broadcaster Laurore News TV, and Moïse, a reporter for the online radio station Radio RCH 2000, also sustained gunshot wounds, according to those sources, which did not specify the extent of their injuries.

“It is shocking that Haitian police opened fire with live ammunition on a crowd in Port-au-Prince, killing journalist Maximilien Lazard and wounding Sony Laurore and Yves Moïse,” said Ana Cristina Núñez, CPJ’s Latin American and the Caribbean senior researcher. “Authorities must make good of their promises to identify the police officers responsible for this unjustified attack and bring them to justice.”

In response to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app, Haitian National Police spokesperson Marie-Michelle Verrier forwarded a statement posted on the police force’s Facebook page.

That statement said the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police and the General Inspectorate of the National Police had opened investigations into the attack, and that if police officers were found to be responsible, “appropriate measures” would be taken. CPJ called the judicial police for comment, but no one answered.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry deplored Lazard’s death and offered condolences to the family on Twitter.

Lazard is the third Haitian journalist killed in relation to their work in 2022. On January 7, John Wesley Amady and Wilguens Louis-Saint were shot and killed while covering a gang-controlled area, as CPJ documented at the time.