Save Journalism In Haiti!

Journalists John Wesley Amady (left) and Wilguens Louissaint (right) were killed in January 2022 while reporting on the country’s gang problems. Pictures taken from Facebook.

By Zahra Burton & Jean-Claude Louis, 18 Degrees North, May 3, 2024

Last week, unknown assailants invaded the premises of Haiti's oldest daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste. They vandalized equipment and took away furniture and the raw materials needed to print the 126-year-old newspaper.

Le Nouvelliste, which had already shifted some of its operations away from the city’s center over a year ago due to kidnappings and the wave of violence, is now forced to beef up on its online presence and is contemplating charging subscribers a fee.

As a result of the turmoil, several other newsrooms in Haiti have closed. Media practitioners have lost their jobs. Since 2022, the year after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, at least six journalists have been killed in connection with their work.

The killings and the impunity that has followed have made Haiti the world’s third-worst offender in failing to prosecute killers of journalists behind Syria and Somalia, according to the latest Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which made its assessment between September 1, 2022 and August 31, 2023.

Even when journalists aren’t killed, some are targeted and injured. Investigative journalist Roberson Alphonse had to flee the country following an assassination attempt in October 2022 where his vehicle was sprayed with bullets as he headed to work.

On April 16, 2024, more than 90 Haitian journalists and the Paris-headquartered media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the international community and Haiti’s new Transitional Presidential Council to make support for journalists and the media a central plank of the discussions on a solution to the crisis. According to the joint appeal, Haiti’s journalists and news media must be protected so that the world can know what’s happening in Haiti, and the country doesn’t become an information desert.

On this World Press Freedom Day, 18º North is asking our readers to join us in supporting our fellow journalists in Haiti. All money raised will go to the media development organization, Institut Panos, established in 1986. Panos aims to provide items like recorders, bulletproof vests and helmets to facilitate journalists' work as well as to give small grants to reporters to produce stories on the environment and fighting disease like cholera, which has resurfaced and compounded the crisis.

 

In solidarity with the Haitian press,

Zahra Burton, Founder and Chief Reporter of 18º North & Jean-Claude Louis, Coordinator of Institut Panos.

 

Posted May 5, 2024