Journalist from Montreal-based online radio station killed on the job in Haiti

Police patrol after recovering the bodies of journalists killed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 7.Odelyn Joseph / The Associated Press

A journalist working for a Montreal-based online radio station was killed Thursday near the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, while preparing 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 Ecoute FM, said on Friday. Attis said Amady was 32 years old.

Amady was with two other journalists in the neighborhood of Laboule 12, near Port-au-Prince, when they were attacked, Attis said in an interview, adding that one of the other journalists was also killed. Attis said reporters were working on a story about the murder of a police inspector earlier this month.

He remembered Amady as a kind man who worked to support his family, adding that the slain journalist was the only source of financial support for his ailing 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 wish they could do, but others can’t,” Attis said. “He always did them, going to tough neighborhoods, dangerous neighborhoods, talking with gangs. He did it very well.

Attis said that although Radio Ecoute FM’s head office is in Montreal, it has a studio and six employees in Haiti. He condemned the killings, which he said constitute an attack not only on the right to life, but also on the ability of journalists to do their jobs freely in the country.

“We are asking the Haitian authorities for justice, we are asking for real justice,” he said. “Faced with this growing climate of insecurity, criminality and impunity, which continues to plunge Haitian families into mourning, we ask the authorities concerned to take their responsibilities in order to create favorable security conditions for all.

The attack was also condemned by the media defense group Reporters Without Borders, which identified the other murdered journalist as Wilguens Louissaint. In a Twitter post, the group said it “called on the Haitian authorities to shed light on this attack and bring those responsible to justice.” The working conditions of the press in Haiti have steadily deteriorated in recent years.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has pledged to crack down on gangs that authorities accuse of an increase in kidnappings and blockades at gas distribution terminals that have caused severe fuel shortages in recent months. The insecurity prompted the United States and Canada to urge their citizens to leave Haiti.

Just days ago, Henry was forced to flee the northern city of Gonaïves following a shootout between his security agents and an armed group who warned him not to set foot in the city.

The assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7 left a power vacuum that deepened violence and a growing humanitarian crisis in this impoverished Caribbean country.

With files from The Associated Press.

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