Marie Yolene Gilles, assistant program director of the National Human Rights Defense Network, denounced the arrest on local Haiti radio. She called it a “banditry” by the state.
St. Juste also said that Michel’s arrest was a sign that Haiti had entered into an era of dictatorship under Martelly.
“If we have to die, we have no problem with this,” he said. “We will not back down.”
The protests in Haiti also erupted on the same day that a journalist watchdog group called on Haiti’s Justice Ministry to investigate allegations that unidentified persons recently tried to kill one of the country’s most well-known and vocal radio journalists, Jean Monard Métellus.
French-based Reporters Without Borders issued a statement Wednesday saying that it is “deeply concerned” about allegations that there is an assassination plot against Métellus, host of the Haiti’s top-rated political radio talk show, Ranmase.
Métellus said that the lug nuts on his car’s tires were loosened in an attempt to have him killed. The vehicle, he said, was sabotage while he was hosting his weekly Saturday talk show.
Haiti’s Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon issued a statement on Oct. 19 saying that his ministry had reliable information that a contract had been had been taken out on Métellus, who was supposed to be killed by two motorcycle hit men for $10,000. The note did not say if anyone was in custody but Sanon promised state protection for Métellus.
“This protection needs to materialize quickly, just as a rapid investigation into the origin of the threats is also needed,” Reporters Without Border said.
But the watchdog organization, echoing concerns of other Haiti-based journalist organizations, warned Haitian authorities not to manipulate the case as part of the ongoing “in-fighting between different government factions.’’
“We are aware of certain allegations in connection with the supposed plot to murder Métellus and we think they should not be made lightly. The priority should be Métellus’ protection and the subsequent investigation,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Métellus’ case is the latest in a string of incidents involving the treatment of journalists in Haiti.
Last month video footage of a member of Martelly’s presidential guard hitting a radio journalist attempting to ask the president a question went viral. The radio station has filed a complaint.
Earlier this month Rony Colin, chief executive of Zenith Radio TV, announced that one of his reporters, Wendy Phele, had sought refuge in France because of continued threats against his life. A former mayor has been accused of hiding and protecting a member of his security detail who shot and seriously injured Phele in the Central Haiti town of Thomonde in April 2011.