HAVANA TIMES – Haitian authorities should conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into the killing of journalist Pétion Rospide and ensure those responsible are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Rospide, an anchor for the privately owned radio station Radio Sans Fin, was shot dead on June 10, while driving to his home in Portail Léogane, an area in the capital Port-au-Prince, according to media reports. At the time, he was driving a car owned by Radio Sans Fin that clearly featured the name of the station, Israel Jacky Cantave, Radio Sans Fin’s director of information and programming, told CPJ.
“The brazen shooting of radio journalist Pétion Rospide highlights the precarious and dangerous conditions for the Haitian press,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “Haitian authorities must ensure a thorough investigation, including whether journalism was the motive for this killing, and ensure the safety of the press.”
Rospide anchored the daily programs “Ti Bat Bouch” (“Small Chat”), which covered general news, politics, and social issues, and “Info Petro,” which focused on allegations of problems with projects funded through PetroCaribe, a regional energy program subsidized by Venezuela.
Cantave told CPJ that the station’s staff regularly received threatening phone calls over their coverage on a range of issues. He said the outlet had taken some protective measures, including hiring a security guard for its offices. Cantave said he did not know if Rospide had been directly threatened for his work. Both Cantave and Jacques Desrosier, secretary general of the Association of Haitian Journalists, said it was too soon to know if Rospide’s reporting may have played a role in his killing.
Repeated phone calls from CPJ to the Haitian national police went unanswered, and the agency’s official website displayed an error message. However, press reports indicated police are investigating the killing.
Separately, journalists in Haiti have come under attack amid protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, Desrosier told CPJ in a phone call. The protests are over allegations of corruption and mishandling of PetroCaribe funds, according to reports. Moïse yesterday denied the claims, according to reports.
On June 9, a photographer working with the daily Le Nouvelliste was hit by a rubber bullet, and protesters tried to attack a videographer with Radio Television Nationale D’Haiti, according to news reports. On June 10, protesters set fire to vehicles belonging to a local privately-owned broadcaster, Radio Télé Ginen, according to those reports.