Two Journalists Killed in Haiti
On Sunday, September 11th, two journalists were shot dead and their bodies were set ablaze in the capital city of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. According to Haiti’s Association of Independent Journalists, Tayson Lartigue and Frantzsen Charles were among a group of seven journalists who were attacked while carrying out their duties in the Cite Soleil district.
According to a reporter with the association, the journalists were ambushed by two warring gangs. Though Lartigue and Charles were killed, the other journalists in the group managed to escape.
The victim’s bodies have not been recovered at the time of writing.
The Haiti Association of Independent Journalists condemned the murders, calling them “villainous and odious.” In a statement, the association said, “The journalists were just doing their job. They didn’t commit any crime.”
The association called on the government to come up with an effective solution to the problem of gang violence. According to reports, gang violence has spiraled further out of control since the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.
Armed gangs have been reported to operate in entire areas that Haiti’s law enforcement agencies have failed to access. These gangs are even known to operate major roads in and around the capital city.
The gangs are accused of being behind the sharp increase in the number of kidnappings taking place around the country.
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Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced that he was deeply shocked by the incident. “We strongly condemn this barbaric act, while sending our heartfelt thoughts to the families of the victims and their colleagues,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday night.
Haiti has been going through a period of strife with high rates of inflation causing high fuel and food prices. This has led to people taking to the streets to voice their frustrations. “The country has a lot of problems,” Prime Minister Henry said in a televised speech. “I am calling on everyone to stay calm. The government is working with what it has.”
This is not the first time this year that Haitian journalists have been victims of gang violence. In January, Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley were murdered near the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
According to reports, the two journalists were burnt alive in Laboule 12, an area of Port-au-Prince infamous for the presence of gangs and violence.
The Caribbean nation has a history of violence against journalists. Freelance photographer Vladimir Legagneur left his home on the morning of March 14th, 2018 on a reporting task in the dangerous neighborhood of Grand Ravine.
He never returned home and his body was never found. In April 2000, Jean Dominique, a prominent journalist and activist, was assassinated as he arrived at his radio station, Radio Haiti Inter. While his killers were arrested, it is alleged they are free while the masterminds behind the murder were never fully punished for their crimes.