A well-known Haitian journalist survived an assassination attempt in which he was shot in his car while on his way to work in the capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, officials said.
Roberson Alphonse, who works at the daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste and radio station Magik9, has undergone two operations so far and is hospitalised and expected to recover, according to Frantz Duval, chief editor for both media.
The incident highlights the deteriorating security situation in a country racked by gang violence.
Haiti’s Ministry of Culture and Communication said it learned “with horror the news of the assassination attempt” that occurred in the Delmas neighbourhood.
“His rigour, his effort to be impartial, and his sense of perfection make him a model for the profession,” the ministry said in a statement.
Many colleagues echoed the sentiment, including Widlore Mérancourt of the online news site AyiboPost.
“My friend, Roberson Alphonse could be anything he wants anywhere in the world. He picked Haiti. He also could’ve (made) millions selling his platforms. He opted for integrity and independence. I love him and I wish him well,” he wrote.
Duval thanked an unidentified person he said rescued Alphonse and applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding before medical help arrived. He noted the car had more than 10 bullet holes.
Body of another journalist found
The attack on Alphonse comes just weeks after Haitian leaders requested the immediate deployment of foreign security forces as the country faces an unprecedented crisis.
Also on Tuesday, authorities found the body of another journalist who had been missing for several days.
Garry Tess used to host a political talk show in the southern city of Les Cayes, according to the government’s Office of Citizen Protection, which said it was extremely worried about the security of journalists in Haiti and urged they be protected.
No one has been arrested in either case, although journalists in Haiti have long been the target of warring gangs who have grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
Meanwhile, the president of Haiti’s Senate, Joseph Lambert, demanded a judicial investigation.
The attacks come more than a month after two other journalists identified as Tayson Latigue and Frantzsen Charles were fatally shot and their bodies set on fire while reporting in a slum controlled by gangs.
In January, gang members killed two other journalists who were reporting in Laboule, a community south of Port-au-Prince.
The Miami-based Inter-American Press Association says this year has been one of the most violent for the press since record-keeping began in 1987.
Journalists also are still seeking justice in the March 2018 disappearance of freelance photographer Vladjimir Legagneur, who was last seen in Port-au-Prince’s Grand Ravine, one of its poorest and most dangerous areas.
The government’s decision to seek international security assistance has triggered anger and protests, with Haitians shouting against “foreign occupation” and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had asked international partners for “the immediate deployment of a specialised armed force, in sufficient quantity” to stop the “criminal actions” of armed gangs across the country.
One of Haiti’s most powerful gangs surrounded a main fuel terminal more than a month ago, demanding Henry’s resignation as they prevented the distribution of petroleum.
Gas stations have shut down, banks and grocery stores are operating on limited hours and potable water is becoming scarce as the country battles a cholera breakout that has killed at least 40 people, with more than 1,750 suspected cases so far.
UNICEF warned on Monday that the actual number of cholera cases is likely much higher, given under-reporting. The agency noted that it has only been able to find a third of the 318,000 litres (70,000 gallons) of fuel needed to serve more than half of 16 cholera treatment centres in Port-au-Prince.
On Tuesday, the European Union said it was extremely concerned about the deterioration of Haiti’s situation, adding that it has reached unsustainable levels.
“The EU regrets that as a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds and protests have been co-opted by gangs, escalating into violence, looting and territorial gains for armed gangs, political actors have so far failed to find a political solution to the crisis,” it said.
“The EU, therefore, urges all political actors to …engage in constructive negotiations to overcome the current political crisis and its security and humanitarian consequences.”