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Wednesday, 07 March 2012

Haitian Radio Journalist Killed

Jean Liphète Nelson Was Director of Community Station in Impoverished Commune 

By: Scott Griffen, IPI Associate

A UN military vehicle patrols the slum area of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince in this May 11, 2011 picture. REUTERS/Swoan Parker.

VIENNA, Mar. 7, 2012 – A Haitian radio journalist who was wounded when his vehicle came under heavy gunfire from unknown assailants died on Monday in a local hospital.

Jean Liphète Nelson, 38, was the manager of Radio Boukman, a community radio station he had founded in 2004 in Cité Soleil, an impoverished and historically violent commune located at the northern edge of Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital.

Radio Boukman’s administrator, Joachim Joël, told the Haitian news site AlterPresse, that four gunmen had attacked a vehicle in Cité Soleil carrying Nelson and four other individuals, including Nelson’s younger brother.

“After the individuals opened fire, one of the passengers, Alexandre Marcus, was killed with a bullet through the forehead, and Jean Robert, Jean Liplète Nelson’s younger brother, suffered two bullet wounds to the leg,” Joël was quoted by AlterPresse as saying.

Nelson was rushed to a medical center in Cité Soleil operated by Médecins sans Frontières but died shortly thereafter, media reports said.

Employees of Radio Boukman spoke of Nelson’s killing as a tremendous loss for the commune.  Lesly Hilaire, a journalist with the station, told AlterPresse: “He truly wanted to change the image of the area, and let the whole world know that you can do other things in Cité Soleil besides kill people.”

IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “We are deeply saddened at Mr. Nelson’s death, who by all accounts sought to employ journalism as a force for good in his community.  We extend our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues and urge Haitian authorities to determine whether this crime was linked to Mr. Nelson’s work as a journalist.”

Last year, the offices and equipment of another community radio station in Haiti, Tèt Ansanm Karis, located in the northeastern city of Carice, were destroyed in an arson attack attributed to armed supporters of a legislative candidate.  

According to IPI’s Death Watch, Nelson is the first journalist to be killed in Haiti since 2005.

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