Reporters Without Borders was horrified to learn today that freelance photographer Jean-Rémy Badiau was murdered in the southern Port-au-Prince district of Martissant on the afternoon of 19 January. He was reportedly shot dead in his home by members of a gang he had photographed a few days before.
“Badiau’s tragic death is a harsh blow for the Haitian media, for whom conditions seemed to have improved during the past year,” the press freedom organisation said. “This murder has unfortunately served as a reminder that gang law continues to prevail in Haiti, especially in Port-au-Prince. Those responsible must be quickly found and brought to justice, otherwise such murders will recur and will continue to go unpunished. The government must continue to combat the armed gangs.”
According to the organisation SOS Journalistes, of which Badiau was a member, he was killed because he had photographed members of local gangs. His family said he had received threats from gang members prior to his death.
Two armed gangs - Lame Ti Manchèt (Little Machete Army) and Baz Gran Ravin (Big Ravine Base) - have been fighting for the control of Martissant for the past two years, to the point that it has become as dangerous as Port-au-Prince’s most notorious slum, Cité Soleil. It was in Martissant that photographer François Louis of the Le Nouvelliste daily newspaper was roughed up by peacekeepers of the UN Mission for the Stabilisation of Haiti (MINUSTAH) during a demonstration that turned into a riot in November.
On the eve of Badiau’s murder, the Haitian National Police (PNH) reported that, with MINUSTAH’s help, it arrested 315 people, including 47 gang members, during the first two weeks of January. Twelve of the gang members have already been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, the Haiti Press Network reported.