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Haïti23 June 2005

A journalist under threat of kidnap forced to leave the country

Reporters Without Borders expressed serious concern at the plight of Nancy Roc, presenter of the weekly programme "Metropolis" on Radio Métropole, forced to leave the country on 16 June 2005 after being threatened with kidnapping.

"The forced exile of a journalist is always a sign of defeat for press freedom," said the organisation. "The Nancy Roc case shows yet again that the establishment of the rule of law in Haiti remains a forlorn hope. The Haitian press is in danger. We call on the UN international force present in the country to step up its disbanding of gangs and armed groups and to guarantee the safety of journalists."

Nancy Roc left Haiti in a hurry to take refuge in Florida in the United States, on 16 June after being threatened with kidnapping.

"A rumour was circulating for two weeks that I had been kidnapped," she told Reporters Without Borders. She made the link with other disturbing incidents such as the murder of a neighbour on 11 June and took the threat of kidnapping even more seriously after a series of threatening phone calls.

"In the space of four days I received six to eight calls a day," she continued. "In the last of the calls I was told that my abduction was ’a matter of hours away’ and that I was going to be ’kidnapped at all costs.’ That was when I took the decision to leave the country." She left for the airport in an armoured vehicle under armed escort.

The journalist, who had also been warned she was in danger by her own sources, blamed the threats on drug-traffickers, linked, she believes, to the Fanmi Lavalas, militias that support ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Roc pointed to a worsening climate of anarchy in a country in the grip of armed groups "who even bully the soldiers of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). There are 182 gangs, 6,000 armed men and 5,000 adolescents involved. In Port-au-Prince, there are some six to 10 kidnappings a day. How can you explain kidnapping a child and putting out its eyes?" she said to Reporters Without Borders.

The editor of Radio Métropole, Richard Widmaier, narrowly escaped a kidnap attempt on 11 June.

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