Growing Intolerance of a Free Media. Concerns about police raid on Radio Megastar – Haiti Support Group press release, 17 February 2005
The Haiti Support Group understands that on Tuesday, 8 February 2005, a group of heavily armed policemen raided the offices of Radio Megastar on Rue de la Reunion, Port-au-Prince. There was no apparent motive for the police deployment, and no arrests were made. However, according to a journalist at the station, the incident may have been connected to the recent criticism of the station voiced by the spokesperson for the Haitian National Police. Jessie Cameau Coicou last month denounced Radio Megastar for interviewing what she described as “bandits”.
Responding to the criticism, a Radio Megastar journalist said, “We will continue to defend the weakest ones, to denounce summary executions, and to allow the disadvantaged to speak”.
The Haiti Support Group notes that a journalist at Radio Megastar was among of a number of eye-witnesses gave information to human rights investigators following an alleged police massacre at the National Penitentiary on 1st December 2004. The Megastar offices are in a high building with a view inside the National Penitentiary from above. The journalist reportedly saw guards on a cat-walk inside the prison shooting in the direction of prison cells. He said he could hear crying as shots were fired, and heard heavy gunfire for extended periods, including automatic weapons fire. (If any official inquiry into this alleged police massacre of prisoners has been conducted, no findings have been made public.) Radio Megastar also interviewed relatives of prisoners who subsequently gathered outside the prison trying to find out if certain inmates were dead or alive.
In what may have been a related incident, on the evening of 4 February, Radio Megastar journalist, Raoul Saint-Louis, was shot in the hand by persons unknown when he was outside the station with his wife and several colleagues.
The Haiti Support Group has worked in support of the free exchange of ideas and information in Haiti for over a decade, and is concerned that hard won freedoms are being rapidly eroded, even while a United Nations stabilisation mission is present in the country.