Two Haitian journalists killed by a gang

Violence is endlessly rooted in Haiti. Two Haitian journalists were killed on Thursday January 6 by a gang on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince, six months after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley were killed in a shooting in an area under the control of armed gangs, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) the employer of the second, Radio Ecoute FM, an online media based in Montreal, where a large Haitian community lives. A third journalist who accompanied them during their report, covering “The safe climate of the area”, was able to escape, according to the same source.

“We condemn with the utmost rigor this criminal and barbaric act”, reacted Francky Attis, general manager of Radio Ecoute FM, who also denounces “Serious damage” to rights “Journalists to exercise their profession freely in the country”. The online media asks, Thursday evening in a statement, the Haitian authorities to “Take responsibility for creating security conditions favorable to all”.

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An endemic political crisis

Haiti has been under the control of gangs for months, the influence of which has extended widely beyond the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. The area of ​​Laboule 12, where the three journalists went on Thursday, is the subject of intense fighting between several armed bands who want to ensure control. The path that crosses it is the only alternative land route to reach the southern half of the country, for lack of being able to take the national road totally controlled, since June, by one of the most powerful gangs in Haiti.

The endemic political crisis in this poor Caribbean country, further aggravated by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse six months ago, has only worsened the security situation.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has been in charge of current affairs since the assassination of President Moïse, said he was targeted by an assassination attempt on Saturday 1is January, during the national holiday celebrations in Gonaïves.

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An under-equipped police force

At least 950 kidnappings were recorded in Haiti in 2021, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, an organization based in Port-au-Prince. Under-equipped in the face of criminal groups with a war arsenal, the Haitian police have not organized large-scale operations against gangs since March 2021.

On March 12, the police attempted to intervene in a district of the capital known to be used by a gang as a place of kidnapping. Four policemen were then killed, and their bodies and equipment could never be recovered.

The impunity enjoyed by gang members also reveals the great weakness of the Haitian justice system, which is only investigated on very rare occasions. Emblematic, the case of the assassination, in April 2000, of the most famous Haitian journalist of the time, Jean Dominique, has still not been resolved. In June 2021, journalist Diego Charles was killed in the middle of the night alongside an opposition political activist and thirteen other people: the perpetrators of the shooting, in the heart of Port-au-Prince, have not yet been identified by the police.

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Photojournalist Vladjimir Legagneur never returned from a report in March 2018 in the poor district of Martissant, in the south of the capital, today entirely controlled by the gangs. Police have still not released the results of a DNA test they said they would perform a few days after her disappearance. Investigations into two other murders of journalists, in June and October 2019, have also failed to date.

The World with AFP

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Two Haitian journalists killed by a gang