Reporters Wilguens Louissaint and John Wesley Amady were captured and shot dead on 6 January in Laboule 12, an outlying middle-class district, by members of one of the armed gangs operating in the area, according to local media reports. The journalist who was with them, William Vil, managed to avoid capture and flee the area.
According to the information gathered by RSF, the journalists had gone to Laboule 12 to investigate the security situation in the area and, in particular, to interview the leader of an armed gang allegedly responsible for killing a police inspector there on 1 January. The journalists were reportedly killed by rival gang members while on their way back from conducting the interview.
After initially establishing itself in Laboule 12 prior to President Jovenel Moïse’s murder in July 2021, the gang had been driven out by police, but recently returned to the area.
“We condemn this barbaric double murder and urge the Haitian authorities to identify the instigators and perpetrators as quickly as possible,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the director of RSF’s Latin America bureau.
“For the investigation to progress, it is also essential and urgent that police and judicial authorities ensure that the journalist William Vil is protected. The environment for the media is deplorable in Haiti. Protecting journalists should be a priority for the new government led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry.”
Louissaint worked for several local media outlets while Amady worked for Radio Écoute FM, a radio station based in Montreal. All three journalists were on assignment for Radio Écoute FM on 6 January.
RSF is extremely concerned about the increase in violence against the media in Haiti, where armed attacks have surged in recent years. Pétion Rospide, a Radio sans Fin show host, and Néhémie Joseph, a reporter for Panic FM et Méga radio, were also murdered in connection with their journalistic work in 2019, while Vladjimir Legagneur, a photojournalist, disappeared while out reporting in March 2018. No significant progress has been reported in any of the investigations into these three cases.
Haiti is ranked 87th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.