PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI- While reporting on the lack of security in the country’s capital, two journalists were shot and burned to death by a gang in Haiti.
Reporter Amady John Wesley died alongside radio journalist Wilguens Louissaint after being attacked in Petion-Ville by members of the Ti Makak gang on Thursday.
The two reporters had gone to the area with a third reporter, who escaped, to report on the gang turf war that engulfed the neighborhood at the time of the incident.
Radio Écoute, a Canadian-based station, told CNN that gang members had shot and then burned journalists alive.
Radio Ecoute FM’s General Director Francky Attis said, “We condemn in the strongest terms this criminal and barbaric act.”
In his statement, he condemned “serious attacks on the right to life” and ‘freedom of expression for journalists.’
Since a deadly 2010 earthquake decimated Haiti’s capital and killed tens of thousands, the Caribbean nation has been in turmoil. It shares an island with the Dominican Republic.
Over the past decade, the country has struggled, and in July last year, the situation took an extreme turn when President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his official residence – with suspicion falling on his political enemies.
With the general lack of order on the island, some of the island’s infrastructure has been taken over by criminal gangs.
Poorer Port-au-Prince neighbourhoods are now in the crosshairs of a turf war that has also spread to the capital’s suburbs and outlying villages.
Rival gang factions have been fighting over control of the road that runs through Laboule 12 as the site of Thursday’s killings.
From the southern half of the country, it is the only way into or out of the capital, since a highway is already controlled by another gang.
According to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince, Haiti recorded at least 950 kidnappings in 2021.
Since March 2021, Haiti’s police have not conducted large-scale operations against gangs because they are under-equipped and heavily armed.
In Port-au-Prince on March 12, four police officers were killed in an attempt to raid an area used as a holding area for kidnapped victims by one gang.
Neither their bodies nor equipment were ever found.
In Haiti, investigations rarely result in charges being filed against the gangs because of the impunity of the gangs.
A murder still remains unsolved in the April 2000 killing of Haiti’s most famous journalist, Jean Dominique.
A group of 13 people, including a political activist and a journalist, were killed in June 2021. Law enforcement has not yet identified the perpetrators of the shooting in Port-au-Prince.
During a reporting trip to Martissant in March 2018, photojournalist Vladjimir Legagneur never returned. The neighbourhood is now completely controlled by gangs.
Despite saying they would conduct a DNA test on a body found a few days after his disappearance, police still have not released the results.
Two other journalists were also murdered in June and October 2019, but the investigation into these murders has not been concluded.