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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

FEBRUARY 14, 2003

Jean-Numa Goudou, Radio Métropole

A group of alleged government supporters tried to set fire to the house of Goudou, a political reporter with Port-au-Prince­based Radio Métropole, by burning a vehicle parked in his garage. No one was injured.

At around 12 p.m., the group visited Goudou's house in Carrefour, a southwestern suburb of Port-au-Prince, and asked to see him. But Goudou, who also works for the news agency Haiti Press Network, was not there. The group returned late that night and burned a car parked in his garage. Neighbors managed to put out the fire.

Radio Métropole News Director François Rothschild told CPJ that most of the station's reporters had received threats weeks before the attack. In protest, Radio Métropole staged an information blackout on Tuesday, February 18, and did not broadcast.

APRIL 30, 2003

Lilianne Pierre-Paul, Radio Kiskeya

Pierre-Paul, co-owner and program director of the independent, Port-au-Prince­based Radio Kiskeya, received a threatening letter containing a 12 mm bullet cartridge and demanding that she read a statement on the air calling on France to pay Haiti US$21.7 million to compensate for the amount that Haiti paid the French government in 1938 for recognition of Haiti's independence.

According to CPJ sources, the letter was signed by pro-government militias, including the "Cannibal Army" and "Domi Nan Bwa," which are close to the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party. The militias are the most visible threats to journalists in Haiti, continuously harassing and intimidating members of the media and accusing them of "working for the opposition."

Pierre-Paul said she has been receiving death threats since 2001, mostly by mail. The letters, usually anonymous, accuse her of corruption and working for the opposition.

Police said they were investigating the threats but have not made any arrests. Pierre-Paul was offered police protection, but she refused. "I want to walk freely and do my job without any interference. I won't be able to do it with a bodyguard protecting me," she said.

On January 9, 2001, Pierre-Paul received a threat during a press conference. Paul Raymond, leader of the pro­Fanmi Lavalas religious organization Ti Kominote Legliz, read names from a list of people he claimed were planning to form a shadow government. The list included Pierre-Paul. Raymond gave those mentioned three days to distance themselves from the alleged plot, threatening violence if they did not comply.

That same day, an unidentified individual tried to set Radio Kiskeya's offices on fire. In September 2002, the station was forced to go off the air after receiving information that unidentified individuals were going to burn it down.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2003
James Thomas, Radio Kiskeya
Wilson Ovinsky, Radio Métropole
Rodrigue Tiraud, Caraïbes FM
Elysee Melchior, Radio Vision 2000
Rocher Claudy Israel, Radio Ginnen
Joseph Remy, Radio Plus

Thomas, Ovinsky, Tiraud, Melchior, Israel, and Remy—correspondents from six independent, pro-government Port-au-Prince­based radio stations—received anonymous death threats after the stations broadcast programs during which residents of Mirebalais, a city in the Lower Plateau Central Area, northeast of Haiti's capital, criticized the city's police force for numerous cases of abuse, according to CPJ sources.

After the broadcast, armed police agents began to intimidate the journalists, according to local press reports. Richard Wiedmaier, General Director of Radio Métropole, told CPJ that for several days the correspondents could not do their jobs. Police Superintendent Josaphat Civil accused them of damaging the police's reputation. "The journalists received death threats, and some of them were visited by police officers at their homes," said Marvel Dandin, news director of Radio Kiskeya.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004

Jean Louis Kenson, Signal FM
Calas Alex, Radio Lakansyèl
Joel Deriphonse, Kadans FM
Joseph Desrameaux, Radio Phare

Kenson, Alex, Deriphonse, and Desrameaux-journalists from four privately owned radio stations in the capital, Port-au-Prince-were injured when supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide threw rocks at them, disrupting a meeting of 184 civil society groups that were gathered to discuss social problems in Haiti.

About 300 people, representing labor, business, and human rights groups, had scheduled a meeting in Cité Soleil, a neighborhood that is an Aristide stronghold, to discuss the deteriorating political and economic situation in Haiti, according to local press reports.

The civil society groups started a motorcade from the airport. While entering Cité Soleil, they encountered more than 1,000 Aristide partisans who tried to block the caravan and threw rocks at the passing vehicles.

As a result of the attack, two of the journalists were hospitalized. Desrameaux suffered head injuries, and Alex had two broken ribs. Both were released after being treated for their wounds, according to Guyler Delva, secretary-general of the Association of Haitian Journalists.

OCTOBER 28, 2003
Posted: October 31, 2003

Radio Caraïbes

At around 8:30 p.m. on October 28, unidentified assailants opened fire on the offices of independent station Radio Caraïbes, located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, damaging the front of the building and a car belonging to a reporter. No one was injured.

Caraïbes protested the attack by suspending newscasts on Wednesday. It plans to resume broadcast on Monday, November 3.

Local press reports cited witnesses who said the gunmen were driving a vehicle with official license plates. Mario Dupuy, Haiti's secretary of state for communications, said that the vehicle used in the incident belonged to the state and could have been stolen.

NOVEMBER 12, 2003
Posted: November 19

Radio Pyramide

Antigovernment activists attacked and set fire to the privately owned, pro-government station Radio Pyramide, in the west-coast town of St. Marc. Although no one was seriously injured, the station was forced off the air and its owner, Fritson Orius, fled to Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, in fear of his life.

The incident occurred hours after Haiti's Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) closed the opposition radio station Tête-à-Tête for allegedly functioning without the proper legal authorization.

The Haitian government claims that the station was not closed for political reasons, but the move angered opposition activists. Armed members of a pro-opposition popular organization called Ramicos burst into Pyramide's offices and smashed its equipment, according to CPJ sources. After the staff ran from the building, the angry mob set fire to the station.