Haiti | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Haiti

Haiti

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

79

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

39

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

21

Although freedom of expression is protected in the constitution, this right is not upheld. As the political situation deteriorated in late 2003, so did press freedom and the objectivity of the media. Government-run media are biased, and many private media outlets blatantly favor either the government or the opposition. This worsened as violent protests increased toward the end of the year, when a large portion of the independent media openly took the opposition's side. Although some journalists are critical of the government, investigative journalism is rare due to fears of retaliation, and many journalists practice self-censorship. Journalists are frequently harassed by government supporters or physically threatened, and perpetrators are rarely punished. The March results of an inquiry into the 2000 killing of Haiti's best-known journalist, Jean Dominique, focused on those who carried out the murder, all of whom were already in prison, and failed to address much-suspected government involvement. Many journalists have gone into hiding or fled the country. In February, the owner and reporters of one of Haiti's best independent news radio stations, Radio Haiti Inter, shut down the station and left the country as a result of threats. Other incidents included armed men setting fire to a vehicle in a reporter's garage, a reporter receiving a package with a 12mm cartridge and a threatening letter, and a journalist disappearing for two days before being found naked and bound in a sugar cane field. The vehicle carrying five men who opened fire on the premises of Radio Caraibes in October bore an official license plate, but a government spokesman said the car could have been stolen. Pro-government media were also targeted during the political crisis, including with death threats. Access to print media is severely limited by the very low literacy rate, and few Haitians have televisions. Radio is the most important news medium, with more than 100 stations in the country.