Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

A dozen newsrooms of media organizations in the capital will fall silent on Friday as they observe a day of protest

AHP News – August 3, 2005 – English translation (Unofficial)
A dozen newsrooms of media organizations in the capital will fall silent on Friday as they observe a day of protest against a communiqué issued by the interim government’s Council of Ministers seen as detrimental to the freedom of the press

Port-au-Prince, August 3, 2005 (AHP)- A dozen media organizations in the capital, including radio and television stations, have decided to observe a day without news broadcasts this Friday, August 5, to protest against a communiqué issued by the Council of Ministers calling for sanctions against media accused of “serving as a vehicle for a pernicious dual language, for hate speech” and of offering a microphone to people accused of being “bandits”.

This day without news, an initiative decided by the Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH), is intended to highlight the refusal by the independent press in Haiti to accept the decision by the Council of Ministers, which, the AJH asserts, has been taken outside any legal framework.

Joseph Guyler C. Delva, Secretary General of the Association of Haitian Journalists, stated that the communiqué issued by the Council of Ministers is a grave threat to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Haiti and is a clear manifestation of the current government’s determination to persecute media outlets that do not share the government’s editorial line.

If it were proven, he said, that offences by the press or abuses of the right of expression were committed, it would be up to the judicial authorities to determine the measures to be adopted.

But, Guy Delva asserted, in no case can the interim authorities themseles intervene in such cases, because under Article 28.3 of the Haitian constitution it is stipulated that “any offence by the press falls under the jurisdiction of the penal code”.

During a meeting Tuesday evening with directors of media organizations, the Minister for Communication, Magali Comeau Denis, said that her Ministry intends to work on the preparation of a decree-law on the functioning of the press.

The AJH Secretary General said: those who wish to silence the media must know that this plan will not succeed and that there are still media and journalists who are ready to fight to save the right of expression.

Contacts are underway, he said, with management of media outlets of the ANMH (National Association of Haitian Media) and other media organizations in provincial cities who are not part of this grouping.

This initiative of media organizations that are not members of the ANMH is open to all other media that recognize the repressive nature of the communiqué of the Council of Ministers, Guy Delva pointed out, adding that he is convinced  that media belonging to the ANMH do not feel comfortable with such a communiqué as the one issued by the Council of Ministers.

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