PORT-AU-PRINCE—Haiti ranks 99 on the Reporter Sans Frontieres World Press Freedom Index, mainly due ongoing violence, a lack of financial resources, absence of institutional support and difficulty accessing information.
Haiti, which dropped 29 places from the previous year, is among the countries on the index with the steepest fall in the Americas region, according to the 2023 World Press Freedom Index. RSF said the continuing decline in the security environment, where Haitians are the target of gangs, victims of kidnapping or being murdered with impunity.
In 2023 so far, no journalists have been reported killed. But in 2022 alone, at least six journalists were killed in connection with their work, according to RSF.
The latest slaying is of Dumesky Kersaint, killed by unidentified individuals on April 15, in Carrefour. Other victims are Remelo Vilsaint, killed in October 2022 at the Delmas 33 police station while demanding the release of a colleague.
In February 2022, photojournalist Maxiben Lazarre was shot in the chest during a demonstration by factory workers for good working conditions. That January, journalists John Wesley Amady and Wilguens Louissaint were killed by gang members while covering gang attacks on the population in Laboule 12, a district of the capital. Two other journalists, Tayson Latigue and Frantzsen Charles, were gunned down in Cité Soleil on Sept. 11.
Families sometimes are left with the reality of not being able to provide proper burials and mourning rites for their loved ones. In the Lartigue case, his wife, Laina Alexis had to plead for days to find his body for a last goodbye.
“My friends, my brothers, my compatriots, give me the body of my husband,” she told The Haitian Times, in between heavy sobs.
The 2023 World Press Freedom Index – which evaluates the environment for journalism in 180 countries and territories said the situation is “very serious” in 31 countries, “difficult” in 42, “problematic” in 55, and “good” or “satisfactory” in 52 countries. The environment for journalism is “bad” in seven out of 10 countries, and satisfactory in only three out of ten, RSF said.
The RSF report was published on May 3, World Press Freedom Day, an international observance of the fundamental principles of press freedom and aims to raise awareness about the importance of a free and independent media. The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 and serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It’s also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
This year, the day’s focus is on the theme “Shaping a future of rights: freedom of expression as a driver for all Human Rights.”
In the America region where Haiti is located, RSF said, no countries are in the green on the press freedom map.
In other regions in the world, Norway is ranked first for the seventh year running. But – unusually – a non-Nordic country is ranked second, namely Ireland (up 4 places at 2nd), ahead of Denmark (down 1 place at 3rd). The Netherlands (6th) has risen 22 places, recovering the position it had in 2021, before crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was murdered.