Laraque, a reporter with the private radio station Tele Contact, died
in a Cuban hospital from injuries suffered while covering a March 20
clash between U.N. troops and members of the disbanded Haitian military
in the city of Petit-Goâve. The confrontation began after the
ex-soldiers occupied the police station in the southwestern city. The
Associated Press reported that three people, including a Sri Lankan
peacekeeper, died in the gun battle.
Laraque and several
colleagues were on the nearby balcony of Tele Contact’s offices, when
the journalist was struck by two shots to the head and neck, the AP
said. Laraque was taken to a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s
capital, where he received initial care. The injuries were so severe
that he was transferred to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic,
and later to Cuba.
Wilner Saint-Preux, a journalist for Tele Contact, told CPJ that
Laraque and other station reporters were trying to cover the skirmish.
Witnesses reported that the shots appeared to have been fired by U.N.
peacekeepers, Saint-Preux said. Fritz Ariel Nelson, a Tele Contact
editor, said witnesses reported that Laraque was holding a microphone
at the time.
David Beer, the U.N. civilian police commissioner in Haiti, told CPJ
that the shooting was under investigation. “We take this very
seriously,” he said in an interview shortly after the journalist’s
death. “We are trying to determine what happened and which side the
bullet came from.”
Col. El Ouafi Boulbars, spokesman for the U.N. forces in Haiti, told CPJ in late October that the inquiry was continuing.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti operates under a U.N.
mandate that grants it the authority to “ensure a secure and stable
environment within which the constitutional and political process in
Haiti can take place” and to “protect civilians under imminent threat
of physical violence.”