Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide today against the threats made by his supporters to five local journalists, including Guyler Delva, secretary-general of the Haitian Journalists' Association.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide today against the threats made by his supporters to five local journalists, including Guyler Delva, secretary-general of the Haitian Journalists' Association."We ask you to firmly condemn these threats and their authors and ensure the safety of journalists," RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to the president. He added that RSF, which has denounced "the atmosphere of terror developing in Haiti," would hold the Haitian government responsible for the fate of the five reporters. RSF learns that members of the organisation Youth People's Power (JPP), which has ties to Aristide, on 21 January gave Delva 48 hours to withdraw his legal complaint against JPP leader René Civil or else they would "teach him a lesson" and he would face the wrath of all the other "popular organisations." Delva had lodged a complaint against Civil on 18 January after he had threatened the journalist in a radio programme on 15 January, accusing him of being "in the pay of foreigners" and "betraying his fellow Haitians." Delva said that Civil's words on the air – "Thank you Guyler Delva, thank you, thank you, Guyler Delva" – contained hidden threats in the Haitian Creole language. On 11 January, Figaro Désir, leader of the pro-Aristide grassroots organisation Bale Wouze ("Clean Sweep"), had called Delva "a traitor serving the white foreigner" and threatened to have him "necklaced" (burned). Désir retracted his threats on 21 January, saying his earlier remarks had been misinterpreted. Four provincial journalists have fled to the capital and are in hiding after being threatened by government supporters. They are Charité André and Rémy Jean, of Radio Eben-Enzer, Duc Jonathan Joseph, correspondent of Radio Métropole in Gonaïves, and Ernst Océan, correspondent of Radio Vision 2000, in St. Marc. The threats against them by supporters of the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party increased after the apparent attempted coup d'etat of last 17 December. Radio Eben-Enzer, broadcasting from the town of Mirebalais, went off the air on 15 January for lack of security. Those issuing the threats accuse journalists of being biased against the government in reporting the news.