Freedom of Expression

Press Release 169/07



Washington, D.C., May 29, 2007. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS requires an exhaustive investigation into the murder of the director of Radio Télé Provinciale, Alix Joseph, on May 16, 2007 in the city of Gonaïves, in the North of Haiti. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the Haitian authorities to investigate this case swiftly and effectively and to duly punish those responsible.


According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Joseph was shot several times while in his vehicle in the north of the capital Port-au-Prince. It has been reported that staff at the Tele Provinciale had expressed opinions in favor of the disarmament program of local armed groups and that radio staff members had received threatening phone calls prior to the attack on Mr. Joseph.


The Special Rapporteur for the Freedom of Expression, Ignacio J. Alvarez, expressed his concern in relation to this act, that which follows the murder of the photojournalist, Jean-Remy Badio, on January 19, 2007 in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. "The violence in Haiti has a negative impact on the work of journalists, who have become a particularly vulnerable target by criminal gangs. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls on State authorities to act with the due diligence to investigate the murder of the journalists Alix Joseph and Jean-Rémy Badio, to prosecute those responsible and to ensure the freedom of expression in Haiti. States failing to conduct effective investigations can incur international liability determined by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights," said the Rapporteur.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression recalls that, under the American Convention on Human Rights, the States have the duty to prevent, investigate, and sanction any violation of the rights recognized therein.  Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "[t]he murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression.  It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."


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