Haiti - Head of panel set up to help probe murders of journalists flees country after being threatened and followed

    MONTREAL, Nov. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders voiced concern
today that a leading Haitian journalist, Joseph Guyler C. Delva, had to leave
the country, on 9 November, after getting repeated death threats since 25
October and then being followed.
    "The forced departure of a journalist committed to his profession shows
the continuing importance of the fight for press freedom in Haiti," Reporters
Without Borders said. "Delva has had to go into self-imposed exile three
months after being put in charge of a commission that is mean to combat
impunity in cases of murders of journalists."
    The press freedom organisation added: "This episode could not have been
more untimely. We express our support for this journalist and his family and
we call on the authorities to quickly shed light on the threats and
intimidation that led to his hurried departure."
    Delva found himself being followed while driving in Port-au-Prince on the
evening of 5 November. He stopped several times to make sure he really was
being followed. "When he pulled into a service station to fill up, those
following him also stopped," Reporters Without Borders was told by Jean Wilner
Morin, the spokesman of the Independent Commission for Supporting
Investigations into Murders of Journalists (CIAPEAJ), which Delva heads.
    "Some of them got out of their vehicle and walked towards Delva's car,"
Morin said. "Very alarmed, Delva set off again in his car and, after seeking
help at the Pétion-Ville police station, police officers escorted him home."
On the advice of his family, he decided to leave for the United States for the
time being.
    The CIAPEAJ was created on 10 August at President René Préval's
initiative with the aim of helping the authorities to combat impunity in a
series of murders of journalists in recent years. Reporters Without Borders
has been told that Delva's role at the head of the commission was probably not
the sole reason for the threats against him.
    The Haiti correspondent of several foreign news media, including the BBC
and Reuters, and the host of a news programme on Mélodie FM, a Port-au-Prince
radio station, Delva had referred to sensitive issues on the air, including
the case a senator who allegedly has dual US and Haitian citizenship, which is
illegal under the 1987 constitution.
    Delva got two anonymous calls on his mobile phone on 25 October in which
he was warned: "You had better watch out, because we know where you are and we
are going to get you."

For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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