Néhémie Joseph, a reporter for the privately owned stations Radio Panic FM and Radio Méga, was found dead in the trunk of his car on October 10, 2019, in the Bayas area of the city of Mirebalais, according to The Associated Press and local media. The journalist had been shot several times in the head, according to the reports.
Joseph was the host of a weekday show called “Tambour Vérite” (“Drum of Truth”) for Radio Panic; he was also a departmental correspondent for Port-au-Prince-based radio station Radio Méga, and reported live every day on the situation in the locality, according to a local source who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. According to the same source, Joseph reported extensively on ongoing anti-government protests and sustained calls for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse at the two stations where he worked, which were among the very few outlets reporting daily on the protests. Joseph had criticized the current crisis in Haiti and posted comments on social media against the government, local media reported.
Joseph had discussed receiving death threats with his relatives and in Facebook and WhatsApp groups, according to local media and a statement by the Association of Haitian Journalists. In a Facebook post in September 2019, Joseph named two politicians from the president’s political party, Tèt Kale, one of whom a senator, whom he said had accused him of inciting protests and whom he said threatened to kill him because of his reporting, according to reports.
CPJ reviewed a screen shot of that Facebook post, obtained from a second source who also asked to remain anonymous for security reasons; the post has since been deleted. In the post, Joseph said of the two politicians, “I heard there’s a plot to kill me, they gave my name to their people and they’ll try to kill me.” In the message, Joseph mentions that he has already put several people on notice of the threats coming from these two individuals and warns his friends and family that the two politicians are responsible for his fate.
According to Loop Haiti, Le Nouvelliste, and the first source, after Joseph’s murder, his wife received threats over the phone, in an apparent effort to prevent her from revealing to the police information about the threats that Joseph had been receiving and the identity of those threatening him, and in several incidents unidentified men fired shots outside of her home and threw rocks.
The judicial police told CPJ an investigation had been started but they could not provide further details. The national police told CPJ they were unable to provide any details.
In January 2020, several news outlets reported that authorities in the Dominican Republic, in cooperation with Haitian authorities, had arrested Clairjeune Juste Chandou, Joseph’s alleged murderer. On January 17, prosecutor Elione Saint-Fleur said that Chandou had confessed to Haitian judicial police that he had killed Joseph, according to news reports. The reports did not indicate any motives for the killing, or any information about the mastermind of the crime.
As of August 2020, there was no additional information about the case against Chandou or the status of the investigation into Joseph’s killing, Jacques Desrosiers, secretary general of the Association of Haitian Journalists, told CPJ.