Haitian journalist Lucien Jura was abducted from his home in Pétion-Ville on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on March 18, 2024.(Photo courtesy of Erick Jura)

Haitian journalist Lucien Jura kidnapped as violence escalates in capital

Editor’s note: Since the publication of this report, Lucien Jura was released by kidnappers, his brother Erick Jura told CPJ on Thursday.

Miami, March 20, 2024—The kidnappers of journalist Lucien Jura should release him immediately and not hold journalists as pawns, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

Jura was abducted from his home in Pétion-Ville on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Monday, March 18, according to news reports. That same day, gangs attacked several homes in the area, leaving at least 10 dead.

On Tuesday, Jura confirmed his kidnapping in a brief phone call with the secretary-general of the Haitian group SOS Journalists, Guy Delva. Delva told CPJ that he called Jura’s cellphone, and one of the kidnappers answered.

“I asked to speak to Jura, and he said ‘Okay’ and passed the phone to him,” Delva told CPJ. “He spoke in a calm and serious tone.” The journalist told Delva he was doing well and taking steps to get out of the situation.

The kidnappers also contacted Jura’s family, according to a post by Jean Peguy, a lawyer and former presenter of the “Moment of Truth” program on Radio Signal FM, which cited a relative of the journalist. CPJ was unable to confirm further details about the kidnapping, and messages to Peguy did not receive an immediate response.  

“We are very concerned by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Haiti and its impact on everyone in the country, including the journalists trying to keep the public informed,” said Katherine Jacobsen, CPJ’s U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Those holding journalist Lucien Jura must release him immediately. Journalists should not be used as pawns.”

Jura is an independent commentator on current events and is considered to be one of the country’s most prominent journalists. CPJ was not able to confirm whether his work was related to his kidnapping.

Jura began his journalism career at the prominent television station Télémax and Radio Signal FM, according to Peguy’s post. Jura later served as presidential spokesman during the administration of Michel Martelly and Jovenel Moïse. Jura also published a book in 2000 about his experience in public service.

The kidnapping came amid weeks of chaos and violence in Haiti as police clashed with armed gangs seeking to consolidate their power, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry earlier this month. Haiti has not had a president since the assassination of Moïse in 2021.

Several reporters have been injured while reporting on the latest violence, including freelancer Jean Marc Jean, who lost an eye when he was struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired by police.

At least six Haitian journalists have been murdered in direct reprisal for their work since Moise’s assassination. CPJ has also documented half a dozen kidnappings of journalists in recent months. Haiti was ranked as the world’s third-worst nation in CPJ’s 2023 Global Impunity Index, which measures where killers of journalists are most likely to go unpunished.