MONTREAL — A journalist working for a Montreal-based online radio station was killed Thursday near the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, as he prepared to interview a member of an armed group about the murder of a police inspector.
John Wesley Amady was shot and killed in a “brutal” and “criminal” attack, Francky Attis, CEO of Radio Écoute FM, said Friday. Attis said Amady was 32 years old.
Amady was with two other journalists in the Laboule 12 area, near Port-au-Prince, when they came under attack, Attis said in an interview, adding that one of the other journalists was also killed. Attis said the journalists were working on a story about the killing of a police inspector earlier this month.
He remembered Amady as a kind man who worked to provide for his family, adding that the slain journalist was the only source of financial support for his sick mother. Attis said Amady, who started working for the station in 2018, was able to cover stories in dangerous areas that other journalists couldn’t.
“There are stories that a lot of people would like to be able to do, but others can’t,” Attis said. “He always did them, going into difficult neighbourhoods, dangerous neighbourhoods, speaking with gangs … He did that very well.”
Attis said that while the headquarters of Radio Écoute FM are in Montreal, it has a studio and six employees in Haiti. He condemned the killings, which he said were an attack not only on the right to life, but also on the ability of journalists to do their work freely in the country.
“We are asking the Haitian authorities for justice, we are asking for real justice,” he said. “In the face of this growing climate of insecurity, crime and impunity, which continues to plunge Haitian families into mourning, we ask the authorities concerned to take their responsibility in order to create favourable security conditions for all.”
The attack was also condemned by media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, which identified the other slain journalist as Wilguens Louissaint. In a post on Twitter, the group said it “calls on the Haitian authorities to shed full light on this attack and to bring those responsible to justice. Working conditions for the press in Haiti have continued to deteriorate in recent years.”
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has vowed to crack down on gangs that authorities blame for a spike in kidnappings and for blockages at gas distribution terminals that caused a severe fuel shortage in recent months. The insecurity has prompted the United States and Canada to urge their citizens to leave Haiti.
Only days ago, Henry was forced to flee the northern city of Gonaives following a shootout between his security guards and an armed group that had warned him not to set foot in the city.
The July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse left a power vacuum that has deepened the violence and a growing humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2022.
— With files from The Associated Press.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press