New York, October 26, 2022 — Haitian authorities must immediately investigate a shooting attack on investigative journalist Roberson Alphonse, bring those responsible to justice, and make sure Haiti’s journalists can report safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
Unidentified attackers shot at Alphonse’s car while he drove through the Delmas 40B neighborhood of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on his way to work at the Magik9 radio station early Tuesday morning, according to news reports.
The attack, which left at least 10 bullet holes in Alphonse’s car, wounded the journalist in both arms, but he was able to drive himself to a hospital where he received treatment and remained in stable condition, Frantz Duval, the chief editor of daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste and Magik9, told the Miami Herald.
“I saw him, I spoke to him, he is in shock but not doing too bad,” Duval said.
Alphonse, one of Haiti’s most high-profile investigative journalists, works as news editor for Le Nouvelliste and information director at Magik9, where he hosts the Panel Magik morning program, according to those reports and a statement by the Association of Haitian Journalists.
“We are deeply relieved that Roberson Alphonse is expected to survive and wish him a safe and speedy recovery from the attack that left him far too close to joining the long list of journalists killed in Haiti this year,” said CPJ Latin America and the Caribbean Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Authorities must take decisive action to protect the Haitian press so the country’s brave reporters are not forced to risk their lives every time they leave their homes to work.”
Duval told the Miami Herald he realized something was wrong just after 7 a.m. on Tuesday, when staff at the radio station called to tell him Alphonse had not arrived for his show. He later received a call from Alphonse, who was already at the hospital, telling him that he had been attacked.
In a statement, Haiti’s Ministry of Culture and Communication called the attack an “assassination attempt” without providing further detail, and expressed solidarity with Alphonse’s family, colleagues, and “the entire corporation hard hit by this unfortunate event, which too often threatens the press sector in Haiti.”
The statement described Alphonse as a “highly respected personality in the Haitian press,” and added, “His rigor, his effort to be impartial and his sense of perfection make him a model for the profession.”
Alphonse’s recent articles for Le Nouvelliste covered topics including national politics, crime and policing, security conditions in Haiti, and the ongoing international response.
In a separate incident, on Monday, authorities in the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes found the body of radio commentator Garry Tess, who had been missing since October 18, according to news reports. Tess was a lawyer who also worked as a political analyst and host of the popular radio program “Gran Lakou” on private broadcaster Radio Lébon FM in Les Cayes, according to reports. CPJ is continuing to investigate his death, including whether it was related to his work as a journalist.
Les Cayes Government Commissioner Ronald Richemond announced on Tuesday that the public prosecutor’s office and local police had opened an investigation into Tess’s death and had already questioned several people in connection to the case, according to reports.
CPJ called and emailed the Haitian national police for comment on the cases but received no replies.