Freedom of Expression

Press release R88/23

SRFOE condemns attacks on journalists in Haiti and calls on the State to investigate the facts and punish those responsible


May 18, 2023


Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns attacks against the press in Haiti, including the murder of two  journalists and the kidnapping of three journalists, so far in 2023. This Office calls on the State to investigate the facts in a complete, effective and impartial manner, to determine the possible link with the informative work, and to punish those responsible.


According to the information available, on 25 April,  journalist Ricot Jean  of Radio-Télé Evolution Inter in the commune of Saint-Marc  was murdered by unidentified armed individuals.  In this context, arelative who accompanied him was also  killed and their lifeless bodies were found in the uninhabited area known as "Anba Gwomòn".


This office also learned ofthe murder of journalist Dumesky Kersaint, who worked for Radio Télé Inurep.  According to the  information available, the events took place  in the early hours of Sunday, April 16, in the municipality of Carrefour. According to local media reports, Kersaint was gunned down by gunmen, killing him instantly.


In addition to the above-mentioned events, on May 5, journalist Paul Jean Marie, host of the program "A Voice in the Night" on Radio Lumière, was murdered. The reporter was the victim of an armed attack by unidentified individuals who entered his residence in Onaville, Croix-des-Bouquets, Port-au-Prince.


On the other hand, the Office of the Special Rapporteur draws attention to the kidnappings of communicators and media  workers. The most recent is the case of Robert Denis, director of Canal Bleu and former vice president of the Haitian Media Association, who was kidnapped on April 11. At that time, this Office rejected the facts and called on  the State to make efforts to guarantee his life, integrity and freedom. According to the information available, Denis was released on April 20, after paying a sum of money for his release.


At the same time, on 3 February, Jean Thony Lorthé of Radio Vision 2000 was kidnapped and allegedly held captive for two weeks and released only after payment for his ransom and that of two other persons accompanying him.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur also learned of the kidnapping of Lebrun Saint-Hubert, president and general director of community radio 2000, on March 17. According to the information available, the director would have been released on March 27 and, like the previous cases, his release also occurred after the payment of a ransom.


As stated in Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, the murder, kidnapping, intimidation, and threats against social communicators violate the fundamental rights of individuals and severely restrict freedom of expression. The Office of the Special Rapporteur reiterates that violence against journalists, in addition to restricting the right of society to be more and better informed, creates an environment that intimidates and contributes to self-censorship of the press.

Haiti remains one of the most violent countries to practice journalism. This is inserted in a context of  social, economic and political crisis, derived from political instability, as indicated by the  Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations (UN). In this regard, the Office of the Special Rapporteur recognizes the challenges Haiti faces in complying with its international obligations to combat violence and impunity. As the IACHR noted in its country report (2022), the events of violence in Haiti are emblematic of the crisis of citizen insecurity, which add to the challenges of impunity that permeate the country. The Commission indicated that the obstacles and difficulties for the investigation with due diligence of criminal acts in the country generate impunity and, consequently, impede the prevention of their repetition.

In this regard, the Office of the Special Rapporteur recalls that "a simple but highly effective protection measure consists of the highest State authorities constantly, clearly, publicly and firmly recognizing the legitimacy and value of journalistic work". This also includes emphatically condemning violence against the press and making a commitment to investigate attacks on journalists in the course of their work.


Finally, the Office of the Special Rapporteur calls on the international community to support the efforts of the Haitian State in the fulfillment of international obligations, the observance and consolidation of democratic institutions and the Rule of law. 


Read the press release in French here.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in order to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.