The IAPA Lamented the Death of a Haitian Journalist Due to a Stray Bullet


Miami (March 25, 2024) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) lamented the death of Haitian journalist Nerval Pierre Viliat, which occurred on Sunday in Port-au-Prince after the journalist was hit by a stray bullet. Haiti has been going through a serious political crisis since February that has plunged the country into a spiral of violence, seriously hindering the work of journalists and media.

On March 21, Nerval Pierre Viliat, a sports journalist for Echonews Sport, was shot in the stomach by a stray bullet during a shootout between police and gang members in the capital neighborhood of Delmas 19, according to press reports. Despite receiving medical assistance, the 26-year-old journalist, known as "Vaval Le Sage," died on Sunday from the injuries sustained.

IAPA President Roberto Rock, director of the news portal La Silla Rota, Mexico, condemned "the violence of the gangs that terrorize the country in the absence of the State and leave the population, in this case a journalist, in a situation of absolute defenselessness. We send our sincere condolences to the family, colleagues, and relations of Nerval Pierre Viliat."

The president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, expressed "IAPA's solidarity with Haitian journalists and media facing serious risks to carry out their work in a climate of fear and intimidation without minimum security guarantees."

IAPA executives reiterated their call to the international community to remain vigilant and denounce violence in Haiti, which terrorizes the population and prevents the press from doing their work without fear of reprisals and physical retribution.

Amidst the wave of violence and terror by armed groups, which according to United Nations data, control 85 percent of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, journalists and media have also been severely affected. Last week, journalist Lucien Jura was kidnapped and released days later after the payment of a ransom, as reported by the IAPA.

Radio Television Caraïbes was recently forced to close its doors due to attacks by armed gangs. In February, during protests against the now former Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, a journalist lost an eye due to the impact of a tear gas bomb, a case documented by the IAPA. Five others were injured by gunfire or threatened.

Many people have been killed, and more than 33,000 have fled from the capital to other areas of the island to ensure their safety in recent weeks, according to press reports.

In 2023, three journalists were killed, and another survived a shootout in front of his residence, according to SIP investigations. Additionally, five kidnappings against communicators were recorded, at least three were beaten by police during protest coverage, and the headquarters of radio Antarctique 96.1 FM was set on fire by gang members in the north of the country.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.