PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Two Haitian journalists were killed by gang members while reporting in a conflictive area south of Port-au-Prince, police said Friday, as a surge in violence continues to shake the Caribbean nation.
One of the journalist’s employers and some media reports said the men had been shot then burned alive, but police did not confirm this. A police statement said only that the bodies had “large-caliber bullet wounds.”
Radio Ecoute FM said journalist John Wesley Amady was killed by “armed bandits” Thursday in Laboule while he was reporting on security issues in the gang-plagued area.
“We condemn with the utmost rigor this criminal and barbaric act, which constitutes a serious attack on the rights to life in general, and those of journalists in particular to exercise their profession freely in the country,” said the station’s general manager, Francky Attis.
Police released a statement confirming the deaths of Amady, 30, and Wilguens Louissaint, 22. Initial reports were that three journalists went to the scene and two were killed, while the third escaped.
“The Almighty Gangs struck again in Haiti at the start of 2022,” said Godson Lebrun, president of the Haitian Online Media Association. “I bow to the remains of these fellow journalists who were killed just because they wanted to INFORM. I demand an investigation and may justice be granted!”
In New York, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “This is just one more example of what journalists the world over face and sadly, we may expect the impunity with which they are murdered for just trying to tell the truth.”
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry condemned the killings of Amady John Wesley and Wilguens. “On behalf of the government, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victims, as well as to the press in general,” he said.
Henry has vowed to crack down on gangs that authorities blame for a spike in kidnappings and for blockages at gas distribution terminals that caused a severe fuel shortage in recent months. The insecurity has prompted the U.S. and Canada to urge their citizens to leave Haiti.
Only days ago, Henry was forced to flee the northern city of Gonaïves following a shootout between his security guards and an armed group that had warned him not to set foot in the city.
The July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise left a power vacuum that has deepened the violence and a growing humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Caribbean nation.