Journalists in Haiti demand protection after reporter killed

A local journalist tries throws water on a burning vehicle that belongs to Radio Tele-Ginen in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, June 10, 2019. (AP)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Journalists in Haiti demand protection after reporter killed

  • It noted that freelance photographer Vladjimir Legagneur has been missing since March while on assignment

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Attacks on journalists in Haiti are escalating, and the slaying of a radio reporter prompted media organizations on Tuesday to renew demands that police protect them and give them space to work.
An unidentified gunman shot Rospide Pétion as he drove home late Monday in a car owned by Radio Sans Fin. The 45-year-old reporter had just finished a radio program in which he talked about corruption allegations against the administration of President Jovenel Moïse.
“These days are not good for journalists and media,” Frantz Duval, editor of the newspaper Le Nouvelliste, tweeted Tuesday.
Moïse issued a statement Tuesday calling the killing a “heinous act” that weighed heavily on Haiti’s press. “I vehemently condemn this villainous crime,” said the president, who also criticized other attacks on local media organizations.
Pétion was married and had three children.
The shooting came amid days of sometimes violent street protests calling for the resignation of Moïse, during which several journalists have been attacked. Some protesters accuse some media outlets of being pro-government.
On Sunday, a photographer with Le Nouvelliste was injured by a rubber bullet, and protesters tried to attack a videographer with Radio Television Nationale D’Haiti. On Monday, reporters with Radio Tele Ginen were targeted with rocks as protesters vandalized their cars.
Haitian media organizations called on people to stop attacking reporters.
“The press is for everyone. To inform everyone. In all kinds of situations,” they said in a statement, adding that everyone is free to follow whatever media they choose.
Reporters Without Borders issued a statement saying Haitian authorities must investigate Pétion’s killing and bring those responsible to justice.
“It is also the government’s job to guarantee the safety of journalists covering the protests,” the organization said. “They have a key role to play in the current turmoil.”
It noted that freelance photographer Vladjimir Legagneur has been missing since March while on assignment.


Sri Lanka abusing UN law to make arrests: rights group

Updated 17 June 2019
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Sri Lanka abusing UN law to make arrests: rights group

  • Police attempted to arrest a journalist for his writing on anti-Muslim riots and Buddhist extremists using the UN-backed law
  • Police have also drawn criticism over the detention of a Muslim woman during anti-Muslim riots last month

COLOMBO: Media activists on Monday accused Sri Lankan police of using a UN convention on hate speech to crack down on media freedom and the country’s Muslim minority.
The Free Media Movement rights group said the police Special Task Force (STF) attempted to arrest a respected journalist for his writing on anti-Muslim riots and Buddhist extremists using the UN-backed law.
The STF told a magistrate on Friday they were pursuing freelance writer Kusal Perera under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act.
“The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the attempts to pursue legal action under the provisions of the ICCPR Act and urges all responsible stakeholders to draw their attention to avoid using the law unfairly,” the group said.
Police have also drawn criticism over the detention of a Muslim woman during anti-Muslim riots last month. She was wearing a T-shirt with a print of a ship’s steering wheel which police mistook for the Dharma Chakra, a Buddhist symbol.
The woman was held in remand custody for three weeks before a senior police officer intervened to press for her release.
Award winning author and poet Shakthika Sathkumara has been held since April under the ICCPR act for his work hinting at homosexuality among the Buddhist clergy.
A senior police source told AFP separate investigations had been launched into the three cases.
“We feel that police exceeded their authority in using the ICCPR and we will take action against those responsible,” the officer said, asking not to be named.
The leftist People’s Liberation Front (JVP) party said police have arbitrarily detained several Muslim men and women since the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 258 people.
The suicide bombings on three churches and three hotels were blamed on local Muslim militants.
Anti-Muslim riots after the April 21 bombings left one Muslim man dead and hundreds of Muslim-owned businesses, homes, vehicles and mosques wrecked.
Sri Lankan authorities are very sensitive to perceived insults to Buddhism, the majority religion.
However Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court in 2017 awarded 900,000 rupees ($5,000) in damages to a woman who police detained for four days for having a Buddha tattooed on her arm.