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26772: Arthur (news) SOS Journalists announces release of kidnapped journalist (fwd)
Haitiâs SOS Journalists announces release of kidnapped journalist
4 December 2005
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A Haitian reporter and news anchor working for
Radio Metropole in Port-au-Prince was released on Saturday after being kidnapped
the day before by gunmen in the Haitian capital.
Watson DÃsir, 27, and his father Miradieu were abducted at gunpoint on
Friday while driving on a main road leading to the northern region, not far from
CitÃ Soleil, Haitiâs largest and most dangerous slum.
SOS journalistsâ secretary-general, Joseph Guyler C. Delva, who negotiated
on the phone with the gunmen who initially demanded $80,000, secured the
release of the journalist. They finally accepted a $4,500 ransom in exchange of
Delva said he had feared that Desir would meet the same fate as journalist
Jacques Roche -- who was killed on July 21, after being kidnapped by gunmen a
few days earlier.
âWhen I learned the news on Friday, I felt really devastated and worried. I
automatically thought about the case of Jacques Roche,â said Delva who last
month launched SOS Journalists, a new press freedom watchdog and media workersâ
union in Haiti.
âI negotiated all night on Friday with the kidnappers and until Saturday
morning we were still negotiating Desirâs release,â said Delva who explained
the hardest part was to go into CitÃ Soleil to hand over the money and secure
the release of the colleague.
The father, Miradieu DÃsir, who was held by a different group in the same
slum, was freed on Saturday morning, just a few hours before his son. But his
abductors had no idea he was the journalistâs father. He said the journalist
was just giving him a ride.
SOS Journalistsâ Secretary-General said he was blocked twice by U.N. troops
in armored vehicles, stationed near the entrance of the slum, who had refused
him entry into CitÃ Soleil, warning him it was two dangerous to go there at
the time. But Delva insisted and tried a third time. He succeeded.
âI entered the slum where the gunmen came to meet me, got the money and
told me to wait for Desir, Delva said. âBut just moments later, heavy gunfire
erupted. I lay down on the floor and crawled into the gateway of a building that
used to house a school,â said Delva, explaining that Desir had joined him in
âAt some point I thought we were not going to make it out of CitÃ Soleil.
There was such shooting. So, we had to wait a while before leaving the slum,â
âThe security situation is very difficult for journalists in Haiti, as it
is for so many other citizens,â Delva stated.
âWith elections coming up, the security situation may become even more
difficult for journalists because of the passion, the fanaticism and the increased
intolerance the electoral process might trigger,â Delva warned.
Haiti will hold presidential and legislative elections on January 8, with a
run-off on February 15, 2006.
For authentification, contact Joseph Guyler Delva at the following phone
(509) 445-3535/ 558-9048