December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Haiti

Haiti July 20, 2005

Juan Gabriel Valdés
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti
Port-au-Prince
Haiti
Fax: (011.509.1) 244-9366/ 67
 

Your Excellency:
 

We are in full agreement with your characterization of the murder of Jacques Roche as a “brutal and vile act.” As you are aware, Roche was an editor for La Matin and a Sunday morning talk-show host on Radio Métropole in Port-au-Prince . On July 15, his body was dumped in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince . As we understand it — from the condition of his body — it was clear that Roche was tortured before being killed.
 

We are well aware that Roche’s murder may not have been a direct consequence of his work as a journalist. We have followed with dismay the wild lawlessness that has taken hold in Haiti since the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the winter of 2004. The violence, as you know, is generally believed to be the work of Fanmi Lavalas, a militia supporting Aristide. As in Iraq , in Haiti , it is difficult to draw a line between conventional criminality and politically motivated crime. In that context, we are in full agreement with U.S. Ambassador James B. Foley last week that “the use of violence against civilians for political purposes is the very definition of terrorism.”
 

Our professional concern is with our Haitian colleagues, who are compelled to work in conditions of threat and physical intimidation. Only last month, Nancy Roc , who, like Jacques Roche, hosted a weekly show for Radio Métropole, fled Haiti after she was threatened with abduction. Two months earlier, Robenson Laraque , a reporter with the private radio station, Tele Contact, died of wounds sustained while observing a clash between U.N. troops and members of the disbanded Haitian military in Petit-Goâve.
 

On the news of Jacques Roche’s murder last week, our colleague, Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor of The Haitian Times, remarked that in Haiti “people are being killed like animals…but the government does not have the resources to deal with it.”
 

For 200 years, the response to Haiti has been despair. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti could play a historic role in erasing that despair; yet appears under equipped at present — just 2,600 soldiers instead of the 6,700 troops and 1,600 police authorized for Haiti by the U.N. Security Council.
 

As Celso Amorim , Brazil ‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs, has repeatedly pointed out, such a force is plainly insufficient to disband the gangs and armed groups who now make Haiti a country of fear. In defense of our Haitian colleagues, the Overseas Press Club of America offers its voice, and whatever other assistance it can provide, in drawing attention to the needs of your mission. Yours is a profoundly important job, both for the people of Haiti and for our hemisphere.
 

Respectfully yours,
Kevin McDermott
Norman Schorr
Co-chairmen – Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. Boniface Alexandre

President

Office of the President

Palais National, Champ de Mars

Port-au-Prince

Republic of Haiti

Fax: (011.509.1) 223-5334 or 298-3900

 

Raymond A. Joseph

Chargé d’Affaires

Embassy of the Republic of Haiti

2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington , DC 20008

Fax: (202) 745-7215

 

Hon. Félix Augustin

Consul General

Consulate-General of the Republic of Haiti

271 Madison Avenue

New York , NY 10016

Fax: (212) 681-6991

 

The Chief Justice

Court of Cassation

Ministry of Justice

Avenue Charles Sumner #18

Port-au-Prince

Republic of Haiti

 

Justice Renolds Jean-Baptiste

Court of Cassation

Ministry of Justice

Avenue Charles Sumner #18

Port-au-Prince

Republic of Haiti

 

David Beer

Chief – U..N. Civilian Police Commissioner

U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Port-au-Prince

Haiti

Fax: (011.509.1) 244-9366/ 67

 

Hon. Celso Amorim

Minister of Foreign Relations

c/o Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil

3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington , DC 20008

Fax: (202) 238-2827

 

James B. Foley

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti

Embassy of the United States of America

5 Harry S Truman Boulevard

Port-au-Prince

Haiti

Fax: (011.509.1) 23-16-41