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9872: Haiti : RSF expresses anger after journalist killed by assumed government supporters (fwd)

From: RSF Americas <ameriques@rsf.org>

<fontfamily><param>Geneva</param>Press freedom

4 December 2001


RSF expresses anger after journalist killed by assumed government

In a letter to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, RSF expressed its deep
anger following the killing of Brignol Lindor, of Radio Echo 2000
station, by a crowd of demonstrators. The journalist was killed with
machetes by presumed supporters of the president's party, Fanmi
Lavalas. Indiviuals with links to the government have been implicated
in many attacks against journalists over the past few weeks. "We ask
that you put an end to the violence and climate of impunity that
prevails in Haiti. Our fear that another journalist would be killed if
Jean Dominique's death remained unpunished has tragically proven to be
justified," stated RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard.

Ménard asked Aristide "to make all necessary means available to the
investigators, to ensure that the authors of Lindor's assassination are
identified and punished." "We also ask you, as leader of the Fanmi
Lavalas party, to send a very clear message to your supporters telling
them to stop attacking journalists. In order for the impunity to
recede, this message should also be addressed to the Fanmi Lavalas
members who are affected by the investigation into the death of Radio
Haïti Inter director Jean Dominique, to ensure that they collaborate
with the courts," added Ménard. The organisation also called for the
opening of an investigation aimed at identifying and punishing the
authors of the attacks on journalists Jean-Marie Mayard, Ernst Océan
and Evrard Saint-Armand, which took place during the week of 26
November 2001. Finally, RSF asked the president to reconsider the
policy of "zero tolerance" that he ordered on 28 June and which
legitimises lynchings of delinquents or those identified as such.


Since 1 January, about fifteen journalists have been threatened or

by police officers or Fanmi Lavalas supporters. On 9 November, one of

Dominique's presumed assassins was killed by a crowd of demonstrators
who stoned him and attacked him with machetes. Dominique, Haiti's most
renowned journalist and political analyst, was killed in the courtyard
of his radio station, Radio Haiti Inter, on 3 April 2000. In his 19
October 1999 editorial, the journalist had sharply criticised Dany
Toussaint, a Fanmi Lavalas member who was since elected senator. In
August 2001, the examining judge responsible for the case asked the
Senate to lift Toussaint's parliamentary immunity because of his
assumed involvement in the journalist's assassination. The Senate has
yet to take a decision.

Lindor: a victim of the "zero tolerance" policy?

According to information collected by RSF, on 3 December, Lindor,
information director of Radio Echo 2000, a private radio station in the
city of Petit-Goâve (sixty-eight kilometres south-west of
Port-au-Prince), was killed by assumed Fanmi Lavalas supporters, who
stoned him and attacked him with machetes. The journalist was killed as
he was driving to work. Ardouin Alézi, the radio station's director,
explained that Lindor had sought shelter at the home of a local Fanmi
Lavalas elected representative who reportedly handed him over to his
attackers. A friend of the victim who was driving the vehicle was able
to escape at the time of the attack. The assassination was registered
at 11:00 a.m. (local time) and the victim's body was evacuated four
hours later. No official report was recorded and there was no police
presence at the scene of the crime. The police have reportedly not made
any arrests.

After inviting opposition figures to speak on his programme "Dialogue",
Lindor received many death threats from local authorities who are
members of the ruling party. "We don't know if this murder was
politically motivated," Petit-Goâve Police Commissioner Alix Alexandre
told the press. Junol Casimir, one of Lindor's colleagues from Radio
Echo 2000, believes that the journalist was indeed killed by supporters
of President Aristide. A few days earlier, some local Fanmi Lavalas
officials had threatened to apply the "zero tolerance" policy to the
opposition. Since the policy's launch in June, several dozen assumed
criminals have been lynched by citizens, with the police's presumed
collusion, according to human rights organisations.

Lindor, aged 32, a former Radio Signal FM local correspondent and
former assistant secretary-general of the Petit-Goâve Journalists'
Association, was also a school principal and customs agent with the

Three journalists attacked

Furthermore, on 29 November, during an opposition demonstration,
members of People's Organisations (organisations populaires, OP) that
are close to the government threatened to kill Mayard, a Radio
Métropole correspondent in Saint-Marc (western Haiti). They said the
journalist was guilty of not broadcasting pro-government news.
Afterwards, Mayard was briefly detained for no apparent reason by
police officers from the Intervention and Maintenance of Order Company
(Compagnie d'intervention et de maintien de l'ordre, CIMO). That same
day, members of an OP that is close to the government also attacked and
threatened to kill Océan, who is from Radio Vision 2000. They fired
gunshots at him and punctured his car tires. They accuse the journalist
of working for the opposition Convergence démocratique party.

On 25 November, Saint-Armand was assaulted and taken to a
Port-au-Prince police station by a plainclothes police officer who
threatened him with a gun. The Radio Kiskeya journalist had just
witnessed an altercation that ended in the death of a young man.
Accused of being responsible for the death, the journalist was beaten
several times during the ensuing interrogation. According to the
Haitian Journalists' Association  (Association des journalistes
haïtiens, AJH), the police officers, "knew perfectly well that the
colleague was at the scene of the incident in his capacity as a
journalist." The association believes that the police officers
allegedly acted against the journalist as a means of "discrediting the
press." Saint-Armand was released after several hours, following the
intervention of his radio station's management and senior police
officials. His equipment was destroyed so he was unable to broadcast
the recording of his arrest.

Reporters Sans Frontières defends jailed journalists and press freedom
throughout the world, that is, the right to inform and be informed, in
accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. Reporters Sans Frontières has nine sections (Austria, Belgium,
France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland and United
Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Montréal, Tokyo and
Washington, and about a hundred correspondents worldwide.

Régis Bourgeat

Despacho Américas / Americas desk

Reporters sans frontières

5, rue Geoffroy-Marie

75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 57

fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51

e-mail : ameriques@rsf.org

	/ americas@rsf.org