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Journalists in Haiti demand protection after reporter killed

A protester on crutches passes burning tires during a demonstration to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, June 10, 2019. Opposition leaders in Haiti launched a two-day strike that paralyzed the country's capital amid another day of protests demanding that President Jovenel Moise resign over corruption allegations. (AP Photo/Edris Fortune)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Attacks on journalists in Haiti are escalating, and the slaying of a radio reporter prompted media organizations on Tuesday to renew demands that police protect them and give them space to work.

An unidentified gunman shot Rospide Pétion as he drove home late Monday in a car owned by Radio Sans Fin. The 45-year-old reporter had just finished a radio program in which he talked about corruption allegations against the administration of President Jovenel Moïse.

“These days are not good for journalists and media,” Frantz Duval, editor of the newspaper Le Nouvelliste, tweeted Tuesday.

Moïse issued a statement Tuesday calling the killing a “heinous act” that weighed heavily on Haiti’s press. “I vehemently condemn this villainous crime,” said the president, who also criticized other attacks on local media organizations.

Pétion was married and had three children.

The shooting came amid days of sometimes violent street protests calling for the resignation of Moïse, during which several journalists have been attacked. Some protesters accuse some media outlets of being pro-government.

On Sunday, a photographer with Le Nouvelliste was injured by a rubber bullet, and protesters tried to attack a videographer with Radio Television Nationale D’Haiti. On Monday, reporters with Radio Tele Ginen were targeted with rocks as protesters vandalized their cars.

Haitian media organizations called on people to stop attacking reporters.

“The press is for everyone. To inform everyone. In all kinds of situations,” they said in a statement, adding that everyone is free to follow whatever media they choose.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement saying Haitian authorities must investigate Pétion’s killing and bring those responsible to justice.

“It is also the government’s job to guarantee the safety of journalists covering the protests,” the organization said. “They have a key role to play in the current turmoil.”

It noted that freelance photographer Vladjimir Legagneur has been missing since March while on assignment.

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