The shock of the July 2005 murder of journalist Jacques Roche, literary columnist for the daily paper Le Matin, marred the fairly good prospects for the media since the fall of President Aristide, even though his supporters have not disarmed and the interim government has not ended impunity.
The record of the interim government that replaced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004 has not been encouraging. Corruption has continued, along with impunity and increasing lawlessness that UN peacekeepers (MINUSTAH) have not managed to curb. Between May and October 2005, $6 million was paid out to kidnappers and some 200,000 illegal weapons are in the hands of the population. Kidnappings were often by Aristide supporters who retain control of some parts of the capital. The media has also been victim of this situation.
A shootout between UN troops and Haitian ex-soldiers in the town of Petit-Goâve on 20 March killed radio journalist Laraque Robenson, of Tele Contact. Richard Widmaier, owner of Radio Métropole, escaped a bid to kidnap him on 11 June and five days later, Nancy Roc, presenter of the station’s programme “Metropolis,” fled abroad after getting telephoned kidnapping threats for a week.
Journalist Jacques Roche, cultural editor for the daily Le Matin, was kidnapped on 10 July in Port-au-Prince and his tortured body found four days later in the street. The kidnapping began as a routine affair but changed when the kidnappers realised who he was and that he had once been involved with the anti-Aristide Group of 184.
The investigation into his death made rapid progress, but those into the murder in 2000 of Jean Dominique, boss of Radio Inter, and Brignol Lindor, of Radio Echo 2000, in Petit-Goâve in 2001, remained stalled. Despite promises made to a Reporters Without Borders fact-finding mission in 2004, nobody has been punished in these two cases.
After nearly a year’s gap, a new judge was named on 3 April 2005 to investigate the Dominique murder, five years to the day after the killing, but he had no resources. Three suspects in the case escaped from prison in February and the masterminds have never been arrested.
The Lindor murder case-file has been pending before the supreme court since 21 April 2003. One of the suspected killers was arrested by local people on 30 March 2005 and handed over to police but for another offence.