BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- In one of a number of in-depth reviews of major press freedom developments in the past six months in each of the countries of the Americas, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) said freedom of the press in Haiti during this period has shown some progress, particularly in the judiciary sector.
Last January a judge indicted nine suspects for the murder of radio journalist Jean Leopold Dominique in 2000. This judicial action occurred after dozens of investigations, despite the fear of retaliation.
Dominique, who owned Radio Haïti Inter and was one of the first to broadcast in Haitian Creole, was killed in front of the station on April 3, 2000. A station employee, Jean-Claude Louissaint, was also killed during the attack.
The defendants’ names are Mirelande Libérus (alleged mastermind), Harold Severe, Annette Auguste, Franco Camille, Merité Milien, Dimsley Milien, Toussaint Mercidieu, Jeudi Jean Daniel and Markington Michel.
On October 17, Jean Monard Métellus, the host of the radio program Ramase on Caraibes FM, received death threats and a tip regarding a plot that was being organized against him. The justice minister stated during a press release that he was reliably informed that Métellus was to be murdered by two men on a motorcycle for the price of 10,000 dollars.
Also in October, two police officers, working as secret service agents at the Presidential Security Unit, violently hit -- for no apparent reason -- Radio Kiskeya’s reporter Rodrigue Lalane while trying to interview President Michel Martelly.
The appointed judge presented the police officers the opportunity to answer questions, but in face of their non-response, the judge issued an arrest warrant against them; however, the arrest has never been executed.
Regarding progress in the justice system and human rights, in February the Court of Appeals of Port-au-Prince reinstated crimes against humanity charges in the prosecution of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, for accusations of torture, extrajudicial killings, and forced disappearances under his 15 years rule from 1971 to 1986.