The United Nations says the gang-related shooting death of two journalists in Haiti is merely “one more example” of what reporters face for “trying to tell the truth”.
Two Haitian journalists were killed by suspected gang members on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince, police said on 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-calibre bullet wounds”.
“This is just one more example of what journalists the world over face,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said from New York.
“Sadly, we may expect the impunity with which they are murdered for just trying to tell the truth.”
Radio Ecoute FM said its reporter John Wesley Amady was killed by “armed bandits” on Thursday in Laboule while he was reporting on security issues in the gang-plagued area.
“We condemn with the utmost rigour 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 were at 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!”.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry condemned the killings.
“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 over recent months.
The insecurity has prompted the US and Canada to urge their citizens to leave Haiti.
Only days ago, Henry was forced to flee the northern city of Gonaives 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.