The International Federation of Journalists today expressed fears over the situation facing journalists working in Port-au-Prince, as levels of violence and political tension continue to escalate in the Haitian capital.
Yesterday, cameraman Ricardo Ortega, New York correspondent for the Spanish television station Antena 3, was shot in the stomach and died at Port-au-Prince's private Canape Vert Hospital. “This is a terrible loss, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, “Journalists are now directly in the line of fire.”
The IFJ has called for news organisations and journalists to take special care after both pro and anti-government protestors clashed in a demonstration outside Haiti's National Palace in Port-au-Prince. “All sides must take action to ease the tension or more tragic events are inevitable,” said White.
Another casualty was Michael Laughlin, a photographer with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, who was shot in the shoulder and the face. Laughlin is reported to be in a stable condition at the Canape Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince.
The IFJ is calling on all journalists stationed in Haiti to ensure that they have the necessary risk-insurance, safety-training and equipment in order to avoid unnecessary risks and says the interim government of President Boniface Alexandre must act now to reduce rising levels of hostility.
“Journalists carrying out their professional duties must not be targeted,” said White. “The coming weeks and months are central to this country’s ability to move forward and the media must be able to play its role in ensuring this happens in as transparent a process as possible.”
The IFJ is planning to carry out a mission to Haiti in the coming weeks, in order to assess the media situation.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries