Freelance shot dead in his home

A freelance photographer who took pictures of underworld criminals in Haiti has been shot dead by members of the same gang.

The body of Jean Remy Badio was discovered last Friday in his home in the notorious Port-au-Prince district of Martissant.

Press freedom groups have condemned what was reported to be a revenge killing by local gangs who Badio had photographed just days before.

Haiti's SOS Journalistes, of which Badio was a member, reported that Badio's family knew he had received threats on his life for taking the photos.

Violence in the region has raged for the last two years, as two gangs, known as the Little Machete Army and the Big Ravine Base, have fought to control Martissant.

Reporters Without Borders, the press freedom lobbyist, said the gangland murder must not weaken the government in its fight against organised crime.

"Those responsible must be quickly found and brought to justice, otherwise such murders will recur and will continue to go unpunished," the Paris-based group said.

"Badio's tragic death is a harsh blow for the Haitian media, for whom conditions seemed to have improved during the past year. This murder has unfortunately served as a reminder that gang law continues to prevail in Haiti, especially in Port-au-Prince."

It was also in Martissant that photographer François Louis, of the Le Nouvelliste newspaper, was roughed up by peacekeepers of the UN Mission for the Stabilisation of Haiti (MINUSTAH), during a demonstration that turned into a riot in November.

On the eve of Badio's murder, the Haitian National Police reported that, with MINUSTAH's help, it arrested 315 people, including 47 gang members, during the first two weeks of January.

Twelve of the gang members have already been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, according to reports by the Haiti Press Network.


26th January 2007

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