Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley were killed by gang members on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

Journalists and supporters of press freedom have strongly condemned the killing of two Haitian journalists by a gang on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, while the Caribbean nation continues to falter amid a surge in violence.

Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley were killed in a shooting on Thursday, Radio Ecoute FM told AFP news agency. A third journalist, who was with them at the time, escaped.

In a statement Director-General Francky Attis, who was posted on the radio station’s Facebook page late Thursday, said Wesley was beaten alive and burned by “armed bandits” in the Boule 12 neighborhood while reporting on the security situation in the area.

“We strongly condemn this criminal and barbaric act, which constitutes a serious attack on the rights to life in general and on that of journalists in particular to pursue their profession freely in the country,” Attis said. .

Haiti experienced increasing gang violence in the wake of the assassination in July of President Jovenel Moise, with armed groups taking control of entire neighborhoods and major roads in and around the capital.

Laboule 12, where the three journalists reported Thursday, is the subject of intense fighting between several armed gangs trying to secure control of it.

A route through the area is the only alternative to reach the southern half of the country except the main road, which has been controlled by one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs since June.

The country also saw an increase in kidnappings for ransom during the past year, with Haiti recording at least 950 kidnappings in 2021, according to the Port-au-Prince Center for Human Rights Analysis and Research.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to crack down on the gangs, say in october that “no real solution to the country’s problems will emerge if we do not arm ourselves with the courage to fight and eliminate this plague”.

But the violence continued, with Henry forced to flee last weekend under gunfire in the northern city of Gonaives.

Women walk past a mural depicting Haitian president Jovenel Moise killedHaitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his home in Port-au-Prince in July [File: Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo]

Ask for justice

The gangs’ impunity highlights the weaknesses of Haiti’s criminal justice system, in which investigations are rarely successful.

The April 2000 assassination of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique, the island nation’s best-known reporter at the time, remains unsolved.

In June, Haitian journalist Diego Charles killed along with opposition activist Antoinette Duclair and 13 other people in Port-au-Prince. The culprits of the shooting were also not identified by law enforcement.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Friday condemned the killing of the two journalists in Laboule 12 this week and called on the Haitian authorities “to shed light on this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice”.

“The working conditions for the press in Haiti have continued to deteriorate over the past few years,” the press freedom group said. said on Twitter.

This was confirmed by Attis, the director general of Radio Ecoute FM, based in Montreal, Canada, home to a large Haitian community.

“In the face of a growing climate of insecurity, crime and impunity,” he wrote in Thursday’s statement, “we urge the authorities concerned to take their responsibility to create favorable security conditions for all.”

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