Kenyan-led international security mission in Haiti urged to prioritise protection of journalists

The protection of journalism and journalists’ physical safety must be a priority for the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Support mission (MSS) that is about to deploy in Haiti to help rein in the armed gangs currently controlling much of the country’s capital, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Protecting civilians entails protecting journalists and their reporting, which is more essential than ever at a time of political destabilisation, says RSF. Nearly 100 Haitian journalists joined RSF last month in calling for the right to news and information to be given a central place in the search for a solution to Haiti’s crisis.

Armed gangs currently control about 80% of the Port-au-Prince region, where journalists trying to cover the situation are exposed to constant violence. Hundreds of reporters are permanently exposed to threats, physical attacks and abduction, RSF has learned.

At least six journalists have been killed in connection with their work since 2022. The country’s leading newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, recently announced that it would no longer produce a print edition because of the dangers posed by the gangs.

“As the international mission authorised by the United Nations Security Council prepares to deploy in Haiti to contain the security crisis, the alert level could not be higher for Haitian journalists, who practice a profession with a high security risk. In the coming weeks, their work will be more essential than ever in keeping the world informed about this mission’s progress. It is imperative that the police officers who make up this mission should respect reporters, protect them in their work, and safeguard the right to information in Haiti.

Artur Romeu
Director of RSF’s Latin America bureau

A Kenyan advance team arrived this week in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the Kenyan authorities have said they plan to begin deploying 1,000 police officers there by the end of May. The Kenyan-led MSS is tasked with helping to restore security by providing the Haitian National Police with operational support.

The joint appeal that RSF issued in April and more than 90 Haitian journalists signed called on the international community and Haiti’s new Transitional Presidential Council to prioritise the protection of journalism in Haiti.

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