PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, – Press freedom organisation, Reporters Without Borders, on Thursday called on Haiti President-elect Michel Martelly to stamp out threats to media freedom in the country.
The group has highlighted the criminal defamation action that Pradel Henriquez, the director-general of state-owned Télévision Nationale d’Haïti (TNH), brought against two of five journalists he recently fired on questionable grounds.
A three-member special commission that was appointed by the culture and communication ministry on April 15 has until May 2 to decide the fate of the five journalists who were fired – Jacques Innocent,Guemsly Saint-Preux, Stéphane Cadet, Josias Pierre and former editor in chief Eddy Jackson Alexis. Only the last two are being sued by Henriquez.
The TNH management accused the five journalists of putting their political preferences before their professional duties, while the journalists accused TNH of biased coverage or even outright propaganda in favour of candidate Michel Martelly during the second round of the presidential election, in which Martelly beat former first lady Mirlande Manigat.
They were fired shortly after a courtesy visit to TNH by the president-elect.
“Equal air-time during an election campaign is a key democratic principle, especially for a national public broadcaster,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The TNH management must explain its actions and reinstate those journalists who just raised a matter of public interest.”