The International Press Institute (IPI) calls on the U.N.-authorized support mission to Haiti to prioritize the safety of journalists as a requisite step to restoring democratic order.

In early October 2023, responding to Haiti’s requests for international support, the U.N. Security Council voted to send a Kenyan-led armed multinational security support (MSS) force to Haiti to “foster the security conditions necessary for the country to advance long-term stability”. The timing of the mission is not yet clear.

Haiti is in the midst of a journalist safety crisis. According to IPI data, at least three journalists have been killed and six kidnapped in the first seven months of 2023 alone. Eight were killed in 2022. Journalists are not only caught in the crossfire of violent clashes between gangs and remaining police forces but also targeted by both groups. Journalists have been shot and received death threats from police officers. Haitian journalists also struggle with financial insecurity and corruption.

An IPI analysis last month described the urgent need for support and solutions to restore law and security, end impunity, and establish safe working conditions for journalists. The U.N.-authorized mission may play a role in doing so, although concerns have been raised about Kenya’s own record of police brutality.

“The U.N.-backed mission in Haiti must prioritize journalist safety as a crucial step in rebuilding stability and functioning democracy in Haiti”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “This must include ensuring that journalists can carry out their work free from harassment and attacks from both gangs and police. It must also include addressing the rampant impunity that fuels further violence against the press. We also call on the Kenyan-led MSS to ensure that itself fully respects journalist safety and refrains from interfering with the media’s rights to cover issues of public interest”.