Media Rights Advocate Under Threat


Media Rights Advocate Under Threat. 7 November 2007

The British solidarity organization, the Haiti Support Group, is extremely concerned about the death threats and possible assassination attempt against Guy Delva, head of SOS Journalistes, and chair of the recently-created independent committee looking into the unsolved murders of journalists in Haiti.

On 26th October, Delva, who works as a correspondent for Reuters, the Caribbean Media Corporation, and the BBC Caribbean service, received two calls to his cell phone. The anonymous callers warned the journalist that he should be careful, that they knew where he was, and that they were going to “get him.”

The anonymous calls threatening his life continued, and then, on the night of Monday, 5th November, Delva reports that he was the subject of what appears to have been preparations for an assassination attempt. At around 10.45pm, while driving through the Port-au-Prince suburb of Pétionville, Delva noticed that he was being followed by another car. Delva described what happened next: “The vehicle followed me everywhere, so I decided to enter a gas station, which has a snack-bar which is usually very crowded at all times in the night. I said to myself, ‘I could be safe there’, but when I stopped, the occupant or the occupants of the vehicle also stopped and stationed their car nearby, as if they were waiting for me to leave. Then I saw a man with a green T-shirt coming from the direction of the stationary vehicle – which in the meantime had been joined by another car which took position right behind it – coming toward my car. He went around my car, looked at me, and then went back to the direction of the two cars.”

Fearing for his life, Delva drove at full speed to the Pétionville police station. There he made a declaration and filed a formal complaint. He also spoke on the telephone with the Haitian National Police force chief, Mario Andrésol, who ordered a heavily armed police patrol to accompany Delva home. The following morning, Delva left the country.

While the identity of the person or persons behind the death threats and the possible attempt on Delva’s life are obviously unknown, Delva himself suggests there may be a link with Senator Rudolph Boulos, a member of one of Haiti’s richest and influential families In late October, Delva, who also hosts a morning news show on the Port-au-Prince-based Radio Mélodie FM, reported information about Rudolph Boulos – who was elected as a Senator for the Fusion pary last year – having US citizenship. According to the Haitian Constitution, someone who holds a US passport cannot be a Senator.

In addition, in his capacity of chairman of the journalists’ commission tasked with overseeing investigations into unsolved murders of Haitian journalists, Delva has also recently criticized the attitude of Senator Boulos for refusing to answer questions from the investigating judge appointed to work on the case of the murdered journalist, Jean Dominique. Boulos has refused to respond to Judge Fritzner Fils-Aimé request to answer question in the framework of the investigation into Dominique’s murder, saying that, as a member of the National Assembly (Parliament), he is covered by immunity.

Commenting on this issue, Delva said, “Senator Boulos has to appear and has to cooperate with the judge for the advancement of the case, despite his immunity.”

He added, “Of course, I understand such stands may cause me and other members of the commission trouble, but we are determined to push for a conclusion and the end of impunity in the cases of journalists killed in Haiti — that’s the mission of the commission that I have the privilege to preside over.”

The Haiti Support Group has worked closely with Guy Delva over a number of years in connection with his tenure as head of the Haitian Journalists’ Association. More recently, in May 2006, he travelled to the UK as a guest of the Haiti Support Group and the International Press Institute (IPI) to participate in the IPI annual congress in Edinburgh and for meetings in London.

The Haiti Support Group commends the prompt action to protect Guy Delva’s life taken by police chief Andresol, but is now calling on President René Préval and Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis to make clear and unequivocal public declarations denouncing the intimidation and threats against Guy Delva. It is vital for the preservation of the recent improvement in the state of media freedom that Guy Delva feels safe enough to return to Haiti, and that the commission which he heads is able to help make progress with the judicial investigations into the murders of Dominique, Lindor, Roche, and other journalists who have lost their lives in Haiti.

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.

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