Report - Mid-Year Meeting April 17 - 19, 2024


An acute political crisis and worsening violence highlighted the difficult conditions under which journalists worked during this period.

The struggle between Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the opposition intensified in the last quarter of 2023. It climaxed in February when the official refused to resign the day he was told to leave power.

Henry's decision unleashed a wave of protests and an offensive by armed gangs that have left more than two hundred dead, thousands displaced, and severe damage to infrastructure in Port-au-Prince.

In this period, the severe climate of insecurity led to the death of a reporter and attacks and kidnappings against others.

On March 21, Nerval Pierre Viliat, a journalist for the Échonews online agency, was wounded by a stray bullet during a shootout between police and gang members. He died three days later, on March 24, in the hospital. Viliat, 26, lived in Delmas, north of Port-au-Prince, an area in conflict.

On December 26, after 11 days under confinement, journalist Barnatte Daniel regained his freedom. He had been kidnapped in the commune of Pétion-Ville, southeast of Port-au-Prince.

Daniel, who directs his radio program Regard FM and is a former Radio Zénith FM staff member, had already received threats by phone in 2021.

On November 27, Pierre-Fils Saintamour, presenter of Radio Scoop FM, was also kidnapped in the northeast of the capital, in the company of his two children and his pregnant wife. He was released on December 8, after a hefty ransom was paid.

On March 18, Lucien Jura, a journalist and former government spokesperson, was kidnapped. He was released 72 hours later after paying a ransom. The kidnapping of Jura, former information director of Radio Signal FM, the retired official voice of channel 5 Telemax and spokesperson for the Presidency during the mandates of President Michel Martelly (2011-2016) and his successor Jovenel Moïse (2016-2021), is occurred at his Vivi Mitchell residence, a luxurious housing complex located in Petion-Ville.

Police, gang members, and protesters also targeted numerous journalists and media outlets.

On January 29, Exavier Charlemagne, a reporter for Radio-Télé Lambi, was shot in the leg while covering an anti-government protest in the town of Jérémie.

On February 7, also in Jérémie, Ymozan Wilborde of the Tande Koze channel and Stanley Belfort, a correspondent for Island TV, were wounded by gunfire. Reporter Lémy Brutus, from the Grandans Bèl Depatman channel, was a victim of abuse and had his equipment stolen.

On the same day, Alain Charles of Radio PolpPrompt was shot and wounded during an attack on a police station by gang members in Gros-Morne, a town north of Port-au-Prince.

On February 8, Jean-Marc Jean, a reporter for JJM Infos, was hit in the face by a tear gas projectile fired by a police officer while following the incidents of a demonstration in the capital. The explosion compromised Jean's left eye, and he was taken to a hospital, where doctors were unable to reverse the damage. The next day, dozens of journalists boycotted a police press conference to demand justice for his colleague.

The spokesperson for the institution visited Jean and promised to

investigate the case; the National Police Union itself condemned the incident. However, the Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH in French), the Haitian Association of Online Media, and other organizations denounced the "brutality" exercised by the agents against the local press.

The AJH also reported that in Cap-Haïtien, a video on social media showed police confiscating and damaging the equipment and work materials of several journalists. In Petit-Goâve, reporters Jacky Saint-Fleur and Jocelyn Lindor were attacked by protesters.

Le Nouvelliste reported that a dozen journalists were injured during the protests.

On March 2, a bullet hit the central barrier of Radio Télévision Caraibes in the center of Port-au-Prince, as confirmed by the station's general director, Patrick Moussignac. The executive reported that the windows of the building that houses the radio stations Sky FM, Espace FM, and OnTV were also affected. Days later, the station closed its doors after repeated gang attacks.

For three days, press workers received training in personal security, digital security, response to kidnappings and physical attacks, first aid, and other topics related to individual protection. The Creole service of The Voice of America (VOA Kreyòl), the US Agency for Global Media, and the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince sponsored the activity.

From the beginning of the year to the start of March, 1,193 people lost their lives, and another 692 were injured due to violent acts perpetrated by gangs, according to Volker Turk, head of the UN Human Rights office.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that 16,947 people had to leave their homes in the capital between March 8 and 14 (35,000 since the beginning of 2024), adding to 313,000 internally displaced people.