Claims by a former rebel group based in the northern city of Gonaïves linking radio journalist Nancy Roc to the murder of its leader last year were "irresponsible and gratuitous" and posed a threat to her safety, Reporters Without Borders said today.
"It is very disturbing that the leader of an armed group, Winter Etienne, the spokesman of the National Resistance Front (FRN), has made baseless allegations associating a journalist’s name with a plot and a murder, the organisation said.
"Reporters Without Borders welcomes the Haitian government’s rapid response in according Nancy Roc protection and asks that it be maintained for as long as necessary," the statement added. Roc presents a programme on Radio Métropole called "Metropolis."
Comments by Etienne on Radio Vision 2000 and Caraïbes FM on 6 November suggested that Roc was involved in a plot leading to the murder in September 2003 of Amyot Métayer, the leader of the Cannibal Army (as the FRN was then called). He also suggested that Roc was linked to a recent supposed attempt to kill Amyot Métayer’s brother, Butter.
Reached by Reporters Without Borders, Roc said she went to Gonaïves to do a report on relief work aid there since the disastrous flooding caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne in September, and on the impact of local corruption on the distribution of humanitarian aid. She said she contacted Etienne, now in charge of the city’s port, and set up two appointments, but each time he failed to turn up.
During an interview with President Boniface Alexandre on Radio Métropole on 30 October, Roc also reported that Etienne had said he never belonged to the Cannibal Army.
After Etienne made his allegations against her, Roc received a call from the government offering support and she currently has police protection 24 hours a day. Despite Etienne’s allegations, her report on Gonaïves was broadcast as planned on 6 November.