Reporters Without Borders today condemned the entrenched impunity in the case of Haitian journalist Brignol Lindor of provincial radio station Echo 2000, who was stoned and hacked to death by ruling party supporters in the town where he worked, Petit-Goâve, two years ago today.
"The murderers of journalists lay down the law in Haiti," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. "Lindor's family had to leave the country because of threats in April 2001. The family of Géraud Louis, the victim's cousin, has since had to go into exile too, as has Arbrun Alezi, Echo 2000's director, because of threats said to have come from government supporters," Ménard added.
Reporters Without Borders said no judicial progress had been made in the case since the investigating judge issued his conclusions in September 2002. "On the contrary, this year's decision by the Haitian courts not to recognise the Lindor family as a civil party in the case has contributed to the impunity, as it deprives the family of its legitimate right to appeal against the investigating judge's controversial conclusions," the organisation said.
In Paris, where it has obtained political asylum, the Lindor family said: "We are still suffering but we will not give up until light is shed on this hateful crime." The family welcomed the sanctions adopted by France and other European governments against the Haitian authorities, urging them to go further by refusing visas to President Aristide and other members of his government.
France's parliamentarians decided to express their solidarity with the Lindor family on the second anniversary of the journalist's death. The family will be received today in the senate by Sen. Michel Dreyfus-Schmidt, the president of the France-Caribbean Friendship Group. Deputy Edouard Landrain, president of the France-Haiti Friendship Group, has also undertaken to meet Reporters Without Borders and Moréno Lindor, the victim's younger brother, in the national assembly to discuss press freedom in Haiti.
Simone Louis, the wife of Brignol Lindor's cousin, left Haiti on 31 August of this year with her children Samora, Rachelle, Dodell and Uriel for France, where they have been given political asylum. Her husband Géraud went to the scene of the murder shortly after it took place to recover Lindor's body. Thereafter, the family was the target of repeated threats and acts of intimidation : an attempt to set their house on fire, shots fired at the house, Aristide posters stuck to the walls, and armed threats. Among the perpetrators of these threats, the family identified "Ti Harry," "Ti Yayan," "Baboute," "Haugou" and "Valmy Colbert," but no action was taken against them. Former Echo 2000 director Arbrun Alezi also went into exile in August after receiving many threats.
The family's lawyer, Jean-Joseph Exumé, has appealed against this ruling to the court of cassation on the grounds that, in Haitian law, civil parties do not have to be formally constituted in cases when an investigation is opened at the public prosecutor's initiative. "The appeal to the court of cassation has still not been heard," Exumé complained. He also said he had no information as to whether any of the accused were in prison.
In his conclusions, issued on 16 September 2002, the investigating judge charged 10 persons with participating in the murder but did not charge former Petit-Goâve deputy mayor Dumay Bony, who called for "zero tolerance" to be applied to the "terrorist" Brignol Lindor two days after Lindor invited opposition representatives to take part in his radio programme "Dialogue". Lindor was killed three days later.
The term "zero tolerance" is widely viewed in Haiti as an implicit legitimization of lynching. After President Aristide called on the police to use "zero tolerance" in their handling of criminals, there was an increase in summary executions.
Those who stoned and hacked Lindor to death with machetes on 3 December 2001 were members of Dòmi Nan Bwa, a local group of grass-roots supporters of the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party. They claimed responsibility for the killing shortly afterwards in the presence of Guyler Delva, the head of the Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH).