Miami, October 11, 2019—Haitian authorities should conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into the killing of radio journalist Néhémie Joseph and ensure those responsible are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Joseph, a reporter for the privately owned stations Radio Panic FM and Radio Méga, was found dead in his car last night, in the Bayas area of the city of Mirebalais, according to The Associated Press and local media. The journalist had been shot several times in the head, according to reports.
Joseph had discussed receiving death threats with his relatives and in Facebook and WhatsApp groups, according to local media and a statement by the Association of Haitian Journalists. In a Facebook post last month, Joseph named two politicians whom he said had accused him of inciting protests and whom he said threatened to kill him because of his reporting, according to reports.
The radio journalist had recently been covering protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. He had criticized the current crisis in Haiti and posted comments on social media against the government, local media reported.
“Officials should be taking swift action to ensure journalists’ safety and to investigate threats like those against Néhémie Joseph. What should have been an investigation into threats is now an investigation into murder,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “How many more Haitian journalists must be shot before authorities recognize the grave threat to press freedom?”
CPJ obtained a screen shot of Joseph’s Facebook post about the threats from a person who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. In the post, Joseph named two politicians, one of whom currently holds public office, and said, “I heard there’s a plot to kill me, they gave my name to their people and they’ll try to kill me.”
The judicial police told CPJ an investigation had been started but they could not provide further details. The national police told CPJ they were unable to provide any details.
Violence against the press has escalated in Haiti, amid anti-government protests and calls for Moïse’s resignation, according to news reports. Chery Dieu-Nalio, an AP photographer, was hit in the face with a bullet fragment on September 23, when Senator Jean Marie Ralph Féthière fired a pistol into a crowd of demonstrators near the Senate building in Port-au-Prince, CPJ reported at the time.
Also this year in Haiti, one journalist was shot while covering anti-government demonstrations, two journalists survived shooting attempts, and Pétion Rospide, from Radio Sans Fin, was shot and killed. CPJ is investigating whether Rospide’s death was related to his journalism.
Haiti: Civil Unrest (MDRHT017) Emergency Plan of Action – Haiti
A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
Haiti has continuously faced social unrest since July 2018 with mobilization of demonstrations against the increased cost of petrol products, the high cost of living and corruption allegations. The events of February 2019, known as Operation “Pays Lock”, resulted in a complete paralysis of the country’s economy for 15 days.
Since 16 September 2019, almost daily protests have taken place in Port-au-Prince and surrounding provinces. Fuel shortages have sparked riots and have led to interrupted water supplies, while people have struggled to find fuel for their generators, stoves, and vehicles. Blockages have affected water supply and access to medical services and supplies.
Haitians titled the demonstration on Friday, October 4th “Mobilizasyon san Limit,” or “Unlimited Mobilization”. Since then, many humanitarian organizations have had to postpone their operations, including World Food Program (WFP), due to security concerns and lack of fuel. Since this date, protest and blockage have been nearly continuous, with just a few calm days in between. At least 17 people have died and nearly 189 have been injured in the recent protests.
Different groups call for continued protest and a national mobilization for 17 October 2019 during the Dessaline Day and beyond.
The current round of protests has led to a close to complete paralysis of the economy of the country for the past four weeks, making it the longest since the beginning of the events in July 2018.
The security situation in the country has continued to deteriorate during September and early October, provoking the closing of hospitals, schools, humanitarian organizations, government institutions, embassies and businesses. Insecurity during the day has continued to increase, with groups ransoming people in the barricades.
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