HPN/Day Robertho Isaac
Caribbean Journalists Link Up with Haiti. 10 January 2008
Recent developments in the struggle for media freedom in Haiti – Haiti Support Group
Readers of the Haiti Support Group Briefing will recall that in November we wrote to President Préval and Prime Minister Alexis calling on them to make clear and unequivocal public declarations denouncing the intimidation and threats against the journalist, Guy Delva.
The Reuters correspondent and head of the Commission for Supporting Investigations into Murders of Journalists (CIAPEAJ) had fled Haiti on 6 November after receiving death threats and apparently being tailed by a team of hit-men.We are pleased to report that Guy returned to Haiti on 25 November. On his arrival at the Port-au-Prince airport he was met and welcomed by Claudy Gassant, the chief public prosecutor in Port-au-Prince. At a press conference the following day, Delva said, “I have returned to my country after receiving a formal commitment to ensure my safety from the President…I do not know if the threats will stop, but I have come back to lead the fight on behalf of journalists killed in Haiti since April 2000. ” Delva reiterated his belief that Senator Rudolph Boulos was the man behind the threats made against him, suggesting that Boulos was angry that Delva had broken the story that Boulos holds a US passport. According to the 1987 Haitian Constitution dual-nationality is not allowed, and therefore Boulos is in fact legally barred from holding an elected post in Haiti. The work of Delva and the CIAPEAJ brought some success on 12 December when two men were convicted for the December 2001 murder of journalist, Brignol Lindor. The two, who were members of the Domi Nan Bwa organisation which had ties to the Famni Lavalas party, were sentenced to life in prison by a court in the western town of Petit-Goâve. A third defendant was acquitted because of mistaken identity, while a new investigation was opened for the fourth defendant because of a technicality. Five other Domi Nan Bwa members have been accused of involvement in Lindor’s murder but are currently at large. Following the trial, the court issued arrest warrants for them, and gave them 10 days to turn themselves in or be tried in absentia. The court also instructed a new investigation to be conducted, which would allow possible masterminds to be prosecuted, including former government officials. According to Delva, the investigation will allow testimony that has not been heard before to be presented. On 3 January, Delva told the Haitian Press Agency that the investigation into the April 2000 murder of journalist, Jean Dominique, would head the list of priorities for the CIAPEAJ in 2008. He said the commission would back the efforts of the judge in charge of the investigation, Fritzner Fils Aimé, who had, he said, shown a strong determination to make progress with the case. Delva added that he expected progress in 2008 with several other cases of murdered journalists such as Alix Joseph and Jean Rémy Badiau. There was more good news at the beginning of December. After several years encouraging the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) to get more involved with colleagues in Haiti, the Haiti Support Group was pleased to receive news that Guy Delva had been elected assistant general-secretary of the ACM at the organisation’s Fourth Biennial General Assembly in Trinidad and Tobago on 4 December. The ACM’s new president, Wesley Gibbings, later announced that the ACM, in collaboration with the International News Safety Institute (INSI), will work with SOS Journalistes-Haiti on the hosting of a workshop on journalistic safety early in 2008. The development of these links will hopefully lead to an improvement in the media freedom situation in Haiti and to greater cooperation between Caribbean journalists. ________________________________________________________________ Forwarded as a service of the Haiti Support Group – solidarity with the Haitian people’s struggle for human rights, participatory democracy and equitable development – since 1992.