Rospide, an anchor for the privately owned radio station Radio Sans Fin, was shot dead on June 10, 2019, while driving to his home in Portail Léogane, an area in the capital Port-au-Prince, according to media reports. At the time, he was driving a car owned by Radio Sans Fin that clearly featured the name of the station, Israel Jacky Cantave, Radio Sans Fin’s director of information and programming, told CPJ in a phone call on June 11.
According to Cantave, Radio Sans Fin covers a variety of topics, including political and social news and alleged corruption in Haiti, from an independent viewpoint. Rospide anchored the daily programs "Ti Bat Bouch" ("Small Chat"), which covered general news, politics, and social issues, and "Info Petro," which focused on allegations of problems with uncompleted infrastructure projects funded through PetroCaribe, a regional energy program subsidized by Venezuela. Cantave told CPJ that, for the two weeks before Rospide’s killing, instead of conducting the program from the station the team would drive to the sites of the projects and broadcast from there. Rospide was one of the anchors of the program.
Cantave told CPJ that the station’s staff regularly received threatening phone calls over their coverage on a range of issues. He said the outlet had taken some protective measures, including hiring a security guard for its offices. Cantave said he did not know if Rospide had been directly threatened for his work.
Both Cantave and Jacques Desrosier, secretary general of the Association of Haitian Journalists, told CPJ on June 11 that it was too soon to know if Rospide’s reporting may have played a role in his killing. As of early July 2019, neither Cantave nor Desrosier were able to provide any updates on a possible motive.
On June 25, Yvenert Foeshter Joseph, general director of Radio Sans Fin, told CPJ that Rospide covered many different topics in his work, and that the station did not have any theories or leads about the killing.
Rospide’s killing came amid a wave of protests in Haiti calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse over recent corruption scandals related to the fate of funds from subsidized Venezuelan oil shipments under the PetroCaribe program. Moïse denied the allegations of corruption, according to reports. On the day of his killing, Rospide anchored a “special program” focusing on the second day of protests against the president, Cantave told CPJ.
Journalists in Haiti came under attack amid the protests, according to Desrosier and news reports. On June 10, protesters set fire to vehicles belonging to local privately owned broadcaster Radio Télé Ginen, according to those reports.
The Haitian Ministry of Communications posted a tweet on June 11 condemning “with the greatest firmness this heinous act that expands the list of victims of insecurity.” President Moïse condemned Rospide’s killing on Twitter the same day, saying the crime “plunges into mourning, once again, the Haitian press.”
On June 17, the Port-au-Prince government commissioner, Paul Éronce Villard, said the ongoing investigation into Rospide’s killing, carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office in conjunction with the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police, is following a “good track,” and that results would be publicly communicated at the appropriate time, according to local press.
Reached by phone on June 21, the Haitian national police referred CPJ to the judicial police; calls to the number provided went unanswered. The official website of the Haitian nation police displayed an error message. However, press reports from June 11 indicated police are investigating the killing.
PetroCaribe did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by CPJ via email on July 11, 2019. Calls to the telephone number provided on the company’s official Facebook page went unanswered.
In a June 25, 2019, statement, the Association of Haitian Journalists called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate Rospide’s killing, and condemned the recent violence against the press in Haiti.