Haitian journalists demand answers after colleague vanishes
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Hundreds of journalists wearing white shirts marched through Haiti’s capital Wednesday to demand an investigation into why a freelance photographer vanished two weeks earlier while on assignment.
Vladjimir Legagneur disappeared March 14 after entering the Grand Ravine area, considered one of the poorest and most dangerous districts in Port-au-Prince. He has not been heard from since, and none of his belongings have been found as anger and frustration grow over a lack of answers from police and justice officials.
“We expect more from the justice system,” photographer Jeanty Junior Augustin said as he marched with hundreds of other journalists.
Legagneur grew up in a slum similar to those he was visiting in recent weeks as part of a project to illustrate life in Haiti’s slums. The 30-year-old freelancer also was preparing for an upcoming workshop in Paris.
Police said earlier Wednesday that they have started to receive specific information about Legagneur’s disappearance, but authorities provided no further details except to say they don’t believe he was kidnapped because there has been no demand for ransom.
Legagneur’s wife, Fleurette Guerrier, told reporters earlier this week that she always stayed in contact with him whenever he went out on risky assignments. She said that when she called him and got no response hours after he had left the house March 14, she contacted police.
Legagneur worked for the newspaper Le Matin and online news agency LoopHaiti before becoming a freelancer for local media and non-governmental groups. Colleagues said he was always eager to learn more and had a particular interest in capturing human expressions.
The U.S. government has warned people about the dangers of Grand Ravine, saying it is one of a handful of communities that has presented problems even for United Nations peacekeepers and Haiti’s police.
Gustavo Mohme, president of the Florida-based Inter American Press Association, demanded that Haitian officials “act with a sense of urgency and exhaustively investigate in order to locate the journalist as soon as possible and punish those responsible.”