Radio Panic FM Journalist Found Dead in Haiti after Threats

A boy looks on as people take the street to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on October 4, 2019. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

HAVANA TIMES — 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.

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