By Joseph Guyler Delva
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (HCNN) -- A top US State Department official, over the weekend, praised and voiced strong support for efforts underway in Haiti to solve the murder case of Jean Dominique who was the Caribbean country's most famous journalist and political commentator.
The US principal deputy assistant-secretary of state for the Western hemisphere, John Feeley, commended current efforts to solve the case of Jean Dominique, who was gunned down in April 2000 and saluted what he called the Haitian people's desire for a free press.
"The simple fact that 14 years after Jean Dominique's killing people in Haiti still remember him is a very, very strong indication of the Haitian people's desire for a free press," Feeley told HCNN in an interview on Saturday.
"The United States supports strongly that desire to keep a free press alive, to keep journalists protected as special members of society, who have all that important responsibility to bring the free flow of credible information to the citizenry," Feeley stated.
The senior US diplomat made those comments following his participation in a session held in Bridgetown, Barbados, where the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) organized a four-day midyear meeting to debate press freedom in the region, among other related issues.
At the end of last year, a Haitian investigating judge, Yvickel Dabrezil, issued a report in which he targeted nine suspects he designated as perpetrators of the killing of Dominique, including a close ally of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mirlande Lubérisse, who is described as the crime's mastermind.
The case is now before Haiti's Supreme Court, which has been called on to decide on the case rapidly to avoid further delay in the process that should lead to the final results of the inquiry and to the expected criminal trial.
Feeley said the commitment of the United States towards freedom of expression and a free press is "unquestioning and incredibly firm". He highlighted the work done by the US with other governments and journalists around the world to promote and uphold press freedom and freedom of expression.
Feeley, who is responsible for the daily management of US regional policy implementation and the supervision of 50 diplomatic posts in the Americas, also underlined the crucial role media and journalists play in societies around the world.
"We promote and we help other countries and societies promote the free flow of information," he said.
"A press that is diverse, a press that is pluralistic is a press that does a service to the democracy of any country, and that's our position, and we manifest it through our many programs...," Feeley added.
The IAPA summit, which ended on Monday, gathered newspaper owners, editors, press freedom advocates from across the Americas, and guest speakers from European countries such as England and Spain, to discuss ways to strengthen efforts aimed at fighting impunity, laws and regulations restricting press freedom and freedom of expression, among other concerns.