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Haitian editor-in-chief killed in drive-by shooting

The International Press Institute (IPI) today [27 March 2013] urged Haitian authorities to conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into the killing of Georges Henry Honorat on Saturday, Mar. 23.

According to reports, Honorat, was editor-in-chief for the weekly newspaper Haïti Progrès, as well as an aide to Haiti's prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, and secretary general of the Popular National Party – an opposition party to the regime of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and his father Francois.

Police indicated that Honorat was slain in a drive-by shooting at his house in the Delmas district in Port-au-Prince. Reports say that two masked hit men opened fire on the journalist while passing his house on a motorbike.

An article on the paper's website called the description of two men on a motorcycle a "euphemism". Employees of Haïti Progrès told AP that the newspaper had received threats, prior to Saturday's shooting. The employees said they suspected “popular” or grassroots organisations were responsible for the killing, but declined to give further details.

Emmanuel Saintus, an editor at Haïti Progrès said in response to Honorat's killing: “Finally, they made the threats a reality by execution,” news reports said.

IPI urges Haitian authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the murder of Georges Henry Honorat, and not to discard any possible motive. As Haitian journalists have been the victims of targeted killings in the past, the link to Mr. Honorat's role as editor-in-chief at Haïti Progrès should be fully considered.

In 2008 Haïti Progrès lost two of their journalists in a sudden outbreak of mob violence in northern Haiti while covering a national senate campaign, according to reports. While that incident dates back a while, only recently the journalistic community suffered another tragic loss in the Caribbean country.

In an unrelated event, a French journalist died in a car accident between the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and the western coastal city of Leogane on Saturday, Mar. 9, reports said.

The journalist, Philippe Allouard, worked as director for the media development company Internews Europe. Allouard started to train other journalists after the earthquake of 2010, according to information given by Internews Europe to AP.

While little is known about the accident, police reports say that Allouard was travelling with an IT engineer of a radio program known by the name “Leonidas”. Leonidas also died in the accident.

Last year, Haitian journalist Jean Liphète Nelson, 38, died after his vehicle came under heavy gunfire in Cité Soleil, an impoverished and historically violent commune located at the northern edge of Port-au-Prince.

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