Interim Prime Minister’s Comments Endanger Haitian Journalist


Interim Prime Minister’s Comments Endanger Haitian Journalist

26 January 2005
Haiti Support Group press release

The Haiti Support Group today wrote to representatives of international freedom of expression bodies to raise the alarm about the situation of journalists in Haiti, and to call for immediate action to protect them from further attacks and threats.

The letters drew attention in particular to the interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s public criticism of the Reuters correspondent in Haiti, Guyler Delva. On January 23, Mr Latortue’s office issued a statement describing the content of a recent wire report filed by Mr Delva as “a shameful machination” and accusing Mr Delva of providing “disinformation” about Haiti and of preaching to “his own political clique”.

In letters to Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and to Eduardo Bertoni, Special Rapporteur on free expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Haiti Support Group wrote that Mr Latortue’s comments were “especially irresponsible and reckless at a time when journalists in Haiti face extreme danger from elements prepared to use violence to suppress the free exchange of information.”

On January 14, radio reporter Abdias Jean was covering a police operation in the Village de Dieu sector of Port-au-Prince when he was allegedly killed by police in retaliation for having been witness to extrajudicial executions carried out by the police. On the same day, in another part of the capital, Claude Bernard Serant and Jonel Juste, two reporters from the newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, were beaten up and their lives were threatened by people claiming to support the former government.

In the context of the above attacks on journalists, and the death threats received by Radio Metropole’s Nancy Roc and by others, the Haiti Support Group is extremely concerned about the safety of Guyler Delva.

Delva is also head of the Association of Haitian Journalists, and has given outstanding service to the defence of press freedom over the recent, extremely difficult, years.

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 in Haiti, even while a United Nations stabilisation mission is present in the country.

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