SOS Journalistes: New press freedom organisation in action

Post Reply
Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

SOS Journalistes: New press freedom organisation in action

Post by Charles Arthur » Fri May 05, 2006 1:25 pm

'Ideas and Action - Projecting the voices of Haiti's progressive civil society organisations', #3, 5th May 2006

__________

SOS Journalistes: New press freedom organisation in action

The newly-founded press freedom organisation, SOS Journalistes, took successful action in late March in defence of Jean Wood Paul, Radio Vision 2000's correspondent in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.

Paul had been summoned to appear before a judge, Rockefeller Vincent, in relation to his radio reports about the judge's apparent involvement in a kidnapping and bribery case. Following the kidnapping of a girl in the city in February, the alleged perpetrator of the crime had been arrested. However, he had been released a short time later without being charged, and the girl's father had denounced Rockefeller Vincent's involvement in the release. The father gave an interview to Jean Wood Paul in which he suggested that Vincent had taken a bribe to get the suspected kidnapper released. In response to the broadcast, Vincent issued a judicial summons against Paul, ordering him to appear in court on 23 March to justify his reporting.

Paul did appear before the judge on the specified day but he also was accompanied by over a dozen journalists from the SOS Journalistes organisation. Secretary-general of SOS Journalistes, Guy Delva, said, "We told the judge it was totally unacceptable that he was using his judicial powers to summon a journalist for reporting on a story in which he, the judge, was the central character."

Delva continued, "The judge didn't like us being there, but we told him that if he wanted to charge and arrest Paul, then he would have to charge and arrest all of us too. He had no choice but to give in."

SOS Journalistes was launched in mid-November 2005 with a mission to defend freedom of the press, to organise its members, and to carry out projects to improve the socio-economic conditions of media professionals at all levels. In addition to Delva, who is the Reuters correspondent, the organisation's management committee consists of Yves Paul Léandre (Melody FM), and Louis Gary Cyprien (Le Nouvelliste). For many years, Delva was head of the Haitian Journalists' Association.

SOS Journalistes' first big test came in early December 2005, when Watson Désir, a reporter and news anchor working for Radio Metropole in Port-au-Prince was kidnapped. Désir and his father were abducted at gunpoint while driving on a main road leading to the north of the country, not far from Cité Soleil, the capital's largest and most dangerous shanty-town.

The SOS Journalistes' Delva negotiated on the phone with the gunmen, who initially demanded US$80,000 in ransom. He finally secured the release of the journalist - his father was held by a different group and freed earlier - when they accepted a US$4,500 ransom. Fellow journalists had pooled money for the ransom.

"I negotiated all night on Friday with the kidnappers, and until Saturday morning we were still negotiating Désir's release," said Delva, who explained that the hardest part was to go into Cité Soleil to hand over the money and secure the release of his colleague. He was blocked twice by UN troops in armoured vehicles, stationed near the entrance of the shanty-town. They refused him entry into Cité Soleil, warning him it was two dangerous to go there at the time. But Delva insisted and was successful on his third attempt.

"I entered the slum where the gunmen came to meet me, got the money and told me to wait for Désir," Delva said. "But just moments later, heavy gunfire erupted. I lay down on the floor and crawled into the gateway of a building that used to house a school," said Delva, explaining that Désir had joined him in the meantime.

"There was such shooting, so we had to wait a while before leaving," Delva said.

In April 2006, SOS Journalists organised a debate on the topic: "The Media, Justice, and Impunity". During this debate, which coincided with the sixth anniversary of the assassination of the Radio Haiti Inter director, Jean Dominique, journalists and media specialists debated and responded to questions from the public. The proceedings were broadcast by dozens of media houses, including Mélodie FM, Radio Metropole, Signal FM, Radio Caraibes FM, Radio-Télé Ginen, Radio Solidarité, Tropic FM, Canal 11, and Radio Soleil d'Haiti in New York.

_________________

'Ideas and Action - Projecting the voices of Haiti's progressive civil society organisations' is a Haiti Support Group project funded by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)

The Haiti Support Group is a British organisation working in solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for human rights, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992 - www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org

Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

Open letter to President-elect Préval from the Collective to

Post by Charles Arthur » Fri May 05, 2006 1:26 pm

'Ideas and Action - Projecting the voices of Haiti's progressive civil society organisations', #2, 4th May 2006
__________

Open letter to the President-elect, René Préval, from the coordination of the Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living (Kolektif Mobilizasyon Kont Lavichè) - 26 April 2006

Dear Mr President,

The Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living understands that your team has begun negotiations with Venezuela about Haiti's inclusion in the PetroCaribe programme. By taking this step, your team is taking an important step in the process of making itself useful for the disadvantaged masses, to the majority of the 7 February 2006 electorate.

In March, the Collective sent you a document in which it clearly fixed its position on the way to manage the PetroCaribe programme. The Collective continues to believe that your future government will have to take a whole raft of measures aimed at improving the population's living conditions. The PetroCaribe programme is one of the factors that can lead to a reduction in the cost of living if it is negotiated and managed in the interests of the most vulnerable sectors of society. However the declaration made on your return from Venezuela that the Haitian State will sell oil products to the private sector at market prices makes us doubt the willingness of your team to significantly reduce the cost of living.

The Collective proposes that your team sets up a national commission to ensure that the management of the PetroCaribe programme is carried out in the interests of the underprivileged sectors of the population. It should be composed of two representatives of the Collective, two representatives of the trade union sector, two representatives of the private sector, and one representative of the incoming government.

We hope that your team will respond positively to our proposal. We also hope, Mr President, that you will not betray the confidence that the masses placed in you with their votes on 7 February.

Yves Barthelemy
Makenton Civilma
Charles Jean Evrard

Email: Kolektifmkl@yahoo.fr

(translated from French by Charles Arthur for the Haiti Support Group)

Organisations participating in the Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living include:

MODEP - Mouvman Demokratik Popilè,
MEGA - Mouvman Etidyan Granmoun Ayisyen,
POHDH - Plate-forme des Organisations Haitiennes de Droits de l'Homme,
GRAEP - Gwoup Refleksyon ak Animasyon Edikasyon Popilè,
SOFA - Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen,
PAPDA - Platfòm k ap Plede pou yon Devlopman Altènatif.

_________________

'Ideas and Action - Projecting the voices of Haiti's progressive civil society organisations' is a Haiti Support Group project funded by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)

The Haiti Support Group is a British organisation working in solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for human rights, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992 - www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org

Post Reply