Reporters Without Borders today joins the French national assembly’s France-Haiti Friendship Group in appealing again for justice to be done in the murder of a young radio journalist that has left Haitian society outraged and traumatised by its horrific nature and by the four ensuing years of unexplained impunity and judicial paralysis.
Almost exactly four years ago today, on 3 December 2001, Brignol Lindor of Radio Echo 2000 was stoned and hacked to death in the southern town of Petit-Goâve by some 10 members of Domi Nan Bwa, a local grass-roots organisation that supported then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Reporters Without Borders and the France-Haiti Friendship Group would like to recapitulate the following points, for the most part based on a report which the Citizens Committee for the Implementation of Justice (CCAJ) handed in to the justice ministry in July of last year.
Four days before Lindor’s murder, a press conference was held in Petit-Goâve on 29 November 2001 by several local figures linked to Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, including Petit-Goâve mayor Emmanuel Antoine and his deputy, Bony Dumay, who launched into a violent verbal attack on the opposition Democratic Convergence coalition and Lindor, considered to be one of its allies. Another meeting was held on 2 December, the eve of his murder, this time between municipal officials and members of Domi Nan Bwa.
One of Domi Nan Bwa’s chiefs, Joseph Céus Duverger, was attacked the next morning by presumed Democratic Convergence supporters. This incident was used as a pretext for the targeted reprisal against Lindor later in the day. Evidence of this comes from the fact that around 10 Domi Nan Bwa members were on the point of executing Democratic Convergence member Love Augustin at his home but, when Lindor arrived on the scene, they let him go and seized Lindor.
Despite all these facts, the indictment issued by judge Fritzner Duclair on 16 September 2002 failed to bring charges against any of the presumed instigators of Lindor’s murder. No Petit-Goâve municipal officials were ever questioned or detained. Charges were brought against 10 Domi Nan Bwa members who took part in the murder but, according to the Lindor family lawyer, none of them was ever detained. One of the presumed killers, Joubert Saint-Just, was detained by the inhabitants of nearby Miragoâne on 30 March 2005 and handed over to the police, but that was for an unrelated reason.
The case is now held up in the supreme court, to which the Lindor family referred its request to be granted civil party status in the case on 21 April 2003 after being turned down by the appeal court. More than two years later, the supreme court still has not issued a ruling, although it should have done so within two months. Does this incredible delay indicate a desire to bury the case for good? We cannot resign ourselves to this hypothesis.
At moment when the population of Petit-Goâve is getting ready to pay homage to Lindor and inaugurate a square bearing his name, we appeal to the Haitian authorities to relaunch judicial proceedings in this case as quickly as possible. This should be done so that the truth can be known and remembered, and it should be done in tandem with the electoral process that will soon result in the installation of a new democratic government.
Jean-Louis Bernard, deputy in the national assembly and vice-president of the assembly’s France-Haiti Friendship Group
Christian Paul, deputy and member of the France-Haiti Friendship Group
Robert Ménard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders