CPJ condemned the August 23, 2023, arson attack on the home of radio reporter Arnold Junior Pierre. (Photo Credit: Radio Télé Galaxie)

Haitian radio journalist’s home destroyed in arson attack

Miami, August 31, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the August 23 arson attack on the home of radio reporter Arnold Junior Pierre and calls on Haitian authorities to restore order to the country so journalists can do their jobs without fear of retaliation. 

On August 23, unidentified armed individuals set fire to Pierre’s home and several other houses in the Carrefour-Feuilles neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ, and his employer, the local independent broadcaster Radio Télé Galaxie.

The journalist and his family were able to escape the home unharmed.

For the past month, thousands have fled the neighborhood amid violence by members of the Grand Ravine gang, who have injured and killed citizens, and burned and looted their homes.

“The arson attack on Haitian reporter Arnold Junior Pierre’s home illustrates the deteriorating security situation in the country, which has made it nearly impossible for journalists to work safely,” said Cristina Zahar, CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator, in São Paulo. “We are deeply concerned by the unstable conditions in Haiti and urge authorities to take control of the situation and help journalists do their work.”

Renan Hédouville, head of Haiti’s Office of the Protector of Citizens, an independent state entity, said in a statement that the situation in Pierre’s neighborhood, Carrefour Feuilles, was a “real nightmare.” He also invited police leadership “to adopt without delay, concrete measures, in order to provide immediate and proportional responses to this situation” in Carrefour Feuilles.

On Tuesday, August 29, the police substation in Savane Pistache, the area where Pierre’s family lived, was burned down. CPJ contacted national police spokesperson Gary Desrosiers via messaging app but did not receive a reply.

“I’m afraid for my life. Looking at the situation, I don’t have complete confidence in the [police],” Pierre told CPJ. He said he believed he was targeted for his work but did not know what specific coverage may have prompted the attack.

On July 31, an unknown number of hooded men beat Pierre as he covered a demonstration in the southwestern part of Port-au-Prince, the journalist told CPJ, adding that a police officer later threatened him after he took a picture, saying he would have killed the journalist if they were not from the same neighborhood. Pierre said he received medical treatment for a cut to the back of his head following the encounter but still experiences eye and head pain.

CPJ has documented an uptick in the number of journalists who have been attacked or abducted in Haiti amid the political chaos and violence following the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

 In July 2023, an arson attack destroyed the independent local station Radio Antarctique in one of the largest assaults on a town by gang members.