Wednesday Dec 6, 2023
Wednesday Dec 6, 2023

Haiti: Journalists at risk from arson, kidnapping, attack

2023 Aug 01, 10:42, Port-au-Prince [Haiti]
Haiti's national flag, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo: ANI)

The dangers for journalists in Haiti have escalated in recent months, with killings, abductions, and attacks among the most pressing threats, Voice of America (VOA) reported.

In the latest incident, the independent broadcaster Radio Antarctique was burned down in an apparent gang attack.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), some 50 men attacked the village of Liancourt, located about 110 kilometres from the capital, Port-au-Prince, in the early hours of July 23 and set fire to the station and dozens of homes.

"They smashed everything and then set fire to it. It was reduced to ashes," the broadcaster's founder, Roderson Elias, told CPJ.

Elias founded Radio Antarctique a year ago and ran it with around a dozen staff. None of them was injured in the attack, but four residents from Liancourt were killed and several others abducted, according to reports.

VOA reached out to the station but did not immediately get a response. In media interviews after the attack, however, Elias said he believes that gang members had targeted the station because of its reporting and that he had received threats earlier in the year.

The station regularly reported on violence and other issues affecting the community.

The head of a local gang reportedly accused Elias of inciting the community against his organisation, and the media foundation cautioned that conditions for journalists in Haiti "remain untenable," according to Voice of America (VOA).

"Local authorities must restore order so that all citizens, including journalists, can live without fear from armed gangs," Cristina Zahar, CPJ's Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator said in a statement. "Journalists should not face violent retaliation simply for doing their jobs."

The deteriorating state of media parallels broader insecurity since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Voice of America (VOA) reported.

On July 7, 2021, a squad of gunmen assassinated the president at his home in the capital, Port-au-Prince throwing the country into a deeper crisis amid growing chaos and gang violence.

Since then, for journalists, one of the biggest risks is kidnapping. On July 21, unidentified people kidnapped radio host Blondine Tanis near her Port-au-Prince home, demanding a ransom for her return.

On Monday, CPJ reported that Tanis had been released.

"The decline in her health while in gang custody is deeply concerning," CPJ's Zahar said in a statement announcing the reporter's release.

"It is unacceptable that gangs have repeatedly kidnapped members of the press and held them for ransom," he added.

Earlier this week, an American nurse and her child were kidnapped in Haiti, according to El Roi Haiti, the Christian humanitarian aid organisation she works for, CNN reported.

Alix Dorsainvil, wife of El Roi Haiti director Sandro Dorsainvil, and their child were reportedly abducted on Thursday morning, according to a statement on El Roi Haiti’s website.

The post read that the two were taken while serving in their community ministry on El Roi Haiti’s campus, near the capital Port-au-Prince, as per CNN.

The statement said, “Alix is a deeply compassionate and loving person who considers Haiti her home and the Haitian people her friends and family. Alix has worked tirelessly as our school and community nurse to bring relief to those who are suffering as she loves and serves the people of Haiti in the name of Jesus.”

Dorsainvil, originally a nurse from New Hampshire, moved to Haiti after her husband invited her to a Haitian school to provide nursing care for the children, Dorsainvil said in a video on the organization’s website.

According to a statement given to CNN by a State Department spokesperson, US authorities are aware of the abductions and are working with Haitian authorities and the US government inter-agency partners.

“The US Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas,” the spokesperson said. 


Port-au-Prince Haiti journalist gang Antarctique attacks Radio President
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