HAITI Report to the Midyear Meeting Caracas, Venezuela March 28 - 30, 2008 The situation of press freedom has improved considerably. This was confirmed in a report published on January 15 by the Organization of American States. It said: “The general political and security climate in Haiti showed signs of improvement from July to December of 2007.” It added that “despite ongoing challenges, the level of political polarization appears to have diminished and reported incidents of kidnapping and gang violence appear to have declined, although concerns remain.” This was confirmed in February by Michèle Montas, spokesman for the secretary general of the United Nations, who is also the widow of journalist Jean Léopolde Aristide, who was killed in Haiti in 2000. According to Montas, in the past two years there has been greater press freedom and security, which is indispensable “so journalists can freely practice their profession.” Important recent events are the following: Last October journalist Joseph Guyler Delva left the country for a while because of death threats. Delva, of Radio Mélodie FM and a correspondent of BBC, Reuters and other international media outlets, also is the head of the Haitian press organization S.O.S. and director of the Independent Support Committee for Investigations Relating to the Killings of Journalists (CIAPEAJ), which was founded on August 10, 2007. Delva returned to Haiti after President René Préval promised to provide security for him. During the past six months there were no killings, and, in fact, there was progress in the fight against impunity. Nine people were convicted for the killing of Brignol Lindor of Radio Echo 2000 in 2000. Joubert Saint-Juste and Jean-Rémy Démosthène were sentenced to life in prison on December 12, 2007. On Jan 23, 2008, the criminal court of Petit-Goâve sentenced seven other people in absentia for the killing. The seven, who are still at large, are Maxi Zéphyr, Bernard Désamour, Tiresias, alias Téré; Fritznel Duvergé, Mackenzi, Belony Colin y Fritznel Doudoute, alias Lionel o Nènèl. They were identified as members of the group amado Dmi nan Bwa (Sleep in the Woods), which is close to former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Also, Bernard Joseph, a gang member, was detained on November 20, 2007 for the killing of Alix Joseph, news director and anchor of Radio-Télé in Gonaïves on May 16, 2007. Another alleged killer has been in prison since July of 2007.