(AP) – Haiti’s National Police said it has received orders to launch an investigation into the death of a journalist who witnesses say was struck in the head by a tear gas canister as officers also opened fire on a group of reporters.
In a statement late Sunday, Police Chief Frantz Elbé offered his condolences to the family and colleagues of Romelson Vilsaint, adding that officers were forced to fire tear gas to control a “hostile crowd” attacking a police station in the capital of Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
Witnesses told The Associated Press that journalists including Vilsaint, who worked for radio station Génération 80, had gathered at a police station in Delmas to demand the release of their colleague, Robest Dimanche, who had been detained while covering a protest on Sunday. Dimanche works at local Radio Tele Zenith.
The Association of Haitian Journalists also accused police of beating up several journalists and confiscating their equipment and other belongings, condemning what it called “anti-democratic acts of repression.”
“The safety of media and free movement of journalists are essential for the full and complete enjoyment of freedom of the press, freedom of thought, freedom of expression and the right to information that make up democracy,” it said.