Néhémie Joseph

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

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.

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 screenshot 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 HaitiLe 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.

In January 2020, authorities in the Dominican Republic, in cooperation with Haitian authorities, had arrested Clerjeune Juste Chandou, Joseph’s alleged murderer. On January 17, prosecutor Elione Saint-Fleur said Chandou confessed to Haitian judicial police that he had killed Joseph. The reports did not indicate any motives for the killing or any information about the mastermind of the crime.

On March 8, 2024, a Haitian judge charged eight defendants, including several prominent local politicians, with conspiring to have Joseph murdered.  The order became public on May 6, 2024, after it was reported by local civil rights organizations SOS Journalistes and Fondasyon Je Klere (FJKL/Bright Eyes Foundation).

Among those indicted were the current mayor of Mirebalais, Lochard Laguerre, and two former senators, Rony Célestin and Willot Joseph.

Célestin told the U.S. newspaper The Miami Herald that he was innocent and the victim of unfounded accusations. CPJ was unable to identify contact information for the other defendants or their lawyers.

The indictment noted that the motive for the murder could have been jealousy, politics, or finance, as Joseph was allegedly romantically involved with a woman who was also the girlfriend of Clerjeune. At the same time, Joseph’s reporting about local corruption upset a group of smugglers linked to local politicians who allegedly conspired to have him killed.

According to the indictment, the killing was planned inside the Mirebalais Town Hall and executed under the orders of Clerjeune, who is the town’s head of security and a former security officer for the Haitian parliament.

The judge dropped charges against a local journalist, Garry Pierre Paul Charles, who was previously accused of involvement in the crime.

FJKL said in its statement that the judge’s ruling “represents a hope that justice will one day put an end to the impunity enjoyed by murderers in this country.”