Two journalists killed by gang in Haiti

Two journalists killed by gang in Haiti

Port-au-Prince (AFP): Two journalists in Haiti were killed Thursday by a gang operating on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince, as the country endures an ongoing security crisis six months after the assassination of its president.

Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley were killed in a shooting, Radio Ecoute FM told AFP.

A third journalist, who was with them at the time, escaped.

“We condemn in the strongest terms this criminal and barbaric act,” said Francky Attis, general director of Radio Ecoute FM, which employed Wesley.

His statement denounced the “serious attack on the rights to life” and on “journalists exercising their profession freely in this country.”

Based in the Canadian city of Montreal, which is home to a large Haitian community, the media outlet asked Haiti’s government to “act responsibly to create favorable security conditions for all.”

Gangs in Haiti have recently extended their reach beyond the poorer neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.

The area of Laboule 12, where the three journalists were reporting on Thursday, is the subject of intense fighting between several armed gangs attempting to secure its control.

A route through the area is the only alternative to reach the southern half of the country apart from the main road, which has been controlled since June by one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs.

Six months ago, then-president Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his private residence in Port-au-Prince, worsening the political and security crisis that Haitians deal with daily.

Haiti recorded at least 950 kidnappings in 2021, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, based in Port-au-Prince.

– Total impunity –

Underequipped and facing heavily armed criminal groups, Haiti’s police have not organized any large-scale operations against the gangs since March 2021.

On March 12, four police officers were killed in an attempted raid in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood, known to be used by one gang as a holding area for kidnap victims.

Their bodies and equipment were never recovered.

The gangs’ impunity highlights the weaknesses of Haiti’s criminal justice system, in which investigations are rarely successful.

The April 2000 assassination of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique, the island nation’s most famous reporter at the time, remains unsolved.

In June 2021, journalist Diego Charles was killed, along with an opposition political activist and 13 other people. The perpetrators of the Port-au-Prince shooting have not been identified by law enforcement.

Photojournalist Vladjimir Legagneur never returned from a March 2018 reporting trip to the poor neighborhood of Martissant — now entirely controlled by gangs.

The police have yet to release the results of a DNA test they said they would conduct on a body found a few days after his disappearance.

Investigations into the murders of two other journalists, in June and October 2019, have also not been completed.

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