Two Haitian journalists murdered while reporting in Port-au-Prince
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is shocked and alarmed by the escalating violence against the media in Haiti, where last weekend’s murders of two reporters in the capital, Port-au-Prince, have brought the number of journalists killed in this Caribbean country since the start of the year to four.
“The climate of violence for the Haitian media is appalling,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “The authorities must reinforce provisions for protecting media personnel, especially freelancers and online journalists, whose reporting is essential for the Haitian population. Those responsible for the cold-blooded murders of Tayson Latigue and Frantzsen Charles must be identified and brought to justice without delay. The almost total impunity for murders and disappearances of journalists in Haiti is behind this vicious cycle afflicting the media. Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s government must stop the spiralling violence.”
Tayson Latigue and Frantzsen Charles were murdered on the afternoon of 11 September in Cité Soleil, a very poor district of the capital, after going there with five other journalists to cover the high level of violence in this district and, in particular, the previous day’s murder of a 17-year-old girl, Christelle Delva.
The group of journalists was ambushed by an armed gang when returning from interviewing Delva’s parents. Five of them managed to escape but Latigue and Charles paid with their lives for their reporting. Their bodies have not yet been found and, according to several local sources, the bodies were burned after the deadly attack.
Latigue reported for Ti Jenn Jounalis, the online media that he had founded, while Charles reported for the online newspaper FS News Haïti. Both covered local news, especially violence by the armed gangs that have been growing in strength in recent years in the capital.
“There is a sort of discrimination against online media journalists in Haiti,” a local source told RSF. “They are not regarded as real journalists and they are accused of exposing themselves to senseless risks out of a lack of professionalism (...) Some freelance journalists are also suspected of being allied with the gangs.”
In a tweet on 12 September, Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was deeply shocked by the double murder and condemned what he called a “barbaric act.” Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor Jacques Lafontant told RSF that no criminal proceedings have “so far” been initiated.
The first two journalists to be murdered this year in Haiti were Wilguens Louissaint and John Wesley Amady, who were killed by gang members while out reporting together in an outlying middle-class district of the capital on 6 January.
Two journalists – Pétion Rospide of Radio sans Fin and Néhémie Joseph of Radio Panic FM and Radio Méga – were killed in connection with their work in 2019, while the photo-journalist Vladjimir Legagneur has been missing since 14 March 2018. No significant progress has been reported in the investigation into any of these five cases.