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Haitian Journalists Reject Request to Share Anti-Government Protest Videos


Former Presidential candidate Moise Jean-Charles from the Platform Pitit Dessalines party, is carried by supporters after national police officers attempted to detain him in Delmas, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 13, 2017.

Two prominent Haitian journalism organizations have rejected a request to share video recorded during anti-government protests with authorities.

The Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH) and the Association of National Haitian Media (ANMH) said Thursday that they consider the request, made by Port-au-Prince district attorney Clame Ocmane Dameus in a notice issued Sunday, to be an extreme infringement on press freedom.

The request asked television stations to send to officials any copies of their video footage of anti-government protests and violence.

Many Haitian journalists interpreted the statement as a request to spy on their fellow citizens.

"No media, association members or journalists that respect themselves have to serve as police or justice informants," Frantz Duval, president of the national association, wrote on its behalf.

Jacques Desrosiers, the AJH secretary general, encouraged all journalists "to fight that attempt to muzzle the press."

A demonstrator is detained after clashes with national police during a protest against government tax hikes in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 5, 2017.
A demonstrator is detained after clashes with national police during a protest against government tax hikes in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 5, 2017.


Dameus told VOA there had been a misunderstanding. In a phone interview Thursday, he emphasized he'd issued a request, not an order, for any information that could help Haitian authorities with investigations. He said images would be used for corroboration.

Dameus also told VOA he was willing to discuss his request with media owners and representatives.

Haiti's constitution protects journalists from having to reveal sources.

VOA Creole service editor Jean L. Desmarattes contributed to this report.

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