Haitian authorities placed prosecutor Ronald Richemond, seen here in a local promotional video in 2023, on leave in June 2024. Journalist Garry Tesse accused Richemond of planning to kill him weeks before he was murdered. (Screenshot: PREMIER NIVEAU/YouTube)

CPJ welcomes investigation of prosecutor linked to murder case of journalist Garry Tesse

New York, July 1, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the Thursday decision by Carlos Hercule, Haiti’s Minister of Justice and Public Security, to place Ronald Richemond, the federal prosecutor of the city of Les Cayes, on leave until further notice.

CPJ has reported on allegations linking Richemond to the murder of Haitian radio journalist Garry Tesse in October 2022. In the June 27 correspondence placing Richemond on leave, Hercule notes that the decision came after “various complaints” against the prosecutor and was done to “guarantee the impartiality of the investigation that will be conducted by a commission designated for this purpose.”

“We are glad that Haiti’s government has placed on leave and plans to investigate Les Cayes prosecutor Ronald Richemond, who has failed to conduct a thorough and fair investigation into the killing of Haitian radio reporter Garry Tesse,” said CPJ U.S., Canada, and Caribbean Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen. “This action is a positive sign that the Haitian government plans to take seriously the killing of journalists and end the country’s cycle of impunity.”

Tesse, who was 39 when he was killed, was a vocal critic of political and judicial corruption on his midday radio show, “Gran Lakou” (Creole for “Big Yard”), on Radio Lebon FM. His murder—and the failure to prosecute his killers—is an example of impunity in Haiti, which was listed in CPJ’s 2023 Global Impunity Index as one of the countries where the murderers of journalists are most likely to go free. 

The investigation announcement comes after a lengthy campaign by the Haitian group SOS Journalists, which has repeatedly denounced Richemond’s handling of the case.

In a statement reviewed by CPJ, SOS Journalists called the decision to remove Richemond “an important milestone,” adding that the new government must prioritize Tesse’s case and those of other killed journalists to “kick off the much-needed war” against impunity and corruption.