Haiti Justice Minister Must Investigate Journalist's Murder

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Haiti

H.E. Paul Denis
Minister
Ministry of Justice and Public Safety
19, Rue Charles Summer
Port-au-Prince
Republic of Haiti
Fax: (011.509.1) 45.04.74

Dear Minister Denis:

We would not have thought it possible for Haiti to generate any more sadness until we learned yesterday of the murder of our colleague Jean Richard Louis Charles.

According to what we know, Charles, a 30-year-old Radio Kiskeya journalist, had just left his bank on Champs-de-Mars square when he was approached by three men. They struggled, and one of the attackers shot Charles in the head and shoulder, killing him. A nearby policeman opened fire, killing one of the men. The two others fled and have not been captured at last report.

The murder of Charles may be a case of robbery unrelated to his work as a reporter. But his work for Radio Kiskeya -- one of Port-au-Prince’s most popular radio stations -- gives his killing special visibility. Among the staggering challenges facing Haiti is the absence of any reason to believe in civil order, and the killing of a journalist resonates specially in that respect.

An aggressive investigation and prosecution of the killers of Jean Richard Louis Charles could be an ironic opportunity to build faith in the rule of law in Haiti, and to assert the centrality of free expression in a civil society. Or it could be just one more reason to despair.

We would be grateful for your reply.

Very truly yours,
Kevin McDermott
Jeremy Main
Co-chairs - Freedom of the Press Committee

cc’s:

H.E. Louis Harold Joseph
Ambassador of Haiti to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 745.7215

Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Haiti to the United Nations
801 Second Avenue, Room 600
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 661.8698

H.E. Kenneth H. Merten
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti
Embassy of the United States of America
Tabarre 41
Route de Tabarre
Port-au-Prince
Haiti
Fax: (011.509.2) 229.8324

Michele Montas
MINUSTAH
montas@un.org

Sylvie Van Den Wildenberg
MINUSTAH
vandenwildenberg@un.org

Consul Marie Thérèse Guilloteau
Consulate General of the Republic of Haiti
271 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Fax: (212) 681.6991

William O'Neill
Social Science Research Council
One Pierrepont Plaza
300 Cadman Plaza West
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Fax: (212) 377.2727

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