Freedom of Expression

Press release R213/22

SRFOE condemns the murder of journalists Frantzsen Charles and Tayson Lartigue in Haiti and calls on the State to provide security guarantees for the press

September 23, 2022

Washington D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalists Frantzsen Charles and Tayson Lartigue on September 11, 2022 in the city of Port-au-Prince. The Rapporteur’s Office calls on the State to investigate, prosecute and punish these acts, considering the practice of journalism as a possible motive for the crime. Likewise, SRFOE considers it crucial that the authorities maximize their efforts to provide the press with basic guarantees so that they can exercise their work freely and safely.

Reporters Frantzsen Charles and Tayson Lartigue were reportedly killed while reporting on violence and clashes between criminal gangs in the Cité Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Available information indicates that the bodies may have been burned. Prime Minister Ariel Henry condemned the events, which he described as "barbaric acts", and offered his condolences to the families. As far as the Rapporteur’s Office was able to learn, Frantzsen Charles was a student at the Centre de Formation en Communication et en Administration and worked for FS News; and Tayson Lartigue reported through his portal Tijèn Jounalis.

In addition to the murder of Frantzsen Charles and Tayson Lartigue, in 2022 SRFOE has already recorded the murder of journalists Maxihen Lazzare, John Wesley Amady and Wilguens Louissaint, making a total of five crimes against journalists so far this year. Likewise, the Rapporteurship reported serious aggressions against journalists covering social protests last February. Also, in the context of the demonstrations that took place on September 7 in several cities due to the economic situation and the citizen security crisis, SRFOE received information that at least three journalists of the Télé Zenith media were injured due to gunshots and rubber bullets, tear gas and aggressions by the police in Port-au-Prince. At the same time, a journalist covering cultural issues was reportedly hit by a projectile in the protests in the city of Cap-Haïtien (North), allegedly coming from the police.

The IACHR and its Special Rapporteur’s Office have expressed on previous occasions that the murder of journalists constitutes the most extreme form of censorship and that it cannot be tolerated in democratic societies. Likewise, SRFOE has maintained that violence against journalists not only restricts the right of society to be informed, but also creates an intimidating and silencing environment in the press and in society as a whole.

In view of the above considerations, this Office calls on the authorities to redouble their efforts in the pursuit of justice and to carry out complete, effective, impartial and timely investigations into crimes against journalists. In addition, as part of its duty of prevention, the State should publicly recognize the value and legitimacy of the work of journalists and instruct security forces on the obligations to respect the work of the press in contexts of protest and social conflict. As the IACHR has previously stated, the Haitian authorities have a special obligation to prevent factors that could generate and deepen human rights violations.

Likewise, the Special Rapporteur’s Office reiterates its call to the international community to support the efforts of the Haitian State in the observance and consolidation of democratic institutions, the rule of law, and compliance with international obligations. This Office considers it essential that institutional spaces and channels be created in order to seek solutions to social and political problems through a framework of democratic dialogue.

Access 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) to encourage 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.