A month after journalist disappeared in Haiti, fear and no answers

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — A month after photographer Vladjimir Legagneur disappeared in a violence-plagued area of Port-au-Prince, other journalists are fearful and Haitian authorities have provided little in the way of information.

On March 14, the 30-year-old freelance photographer left in the morning for Grand-Ravine in Port-au-Prince’s Martissant neighborhood.

The area is one of the poorest in the world and is plagued by deadly gang violence, and police have said they fear Legagneur is dead.

“What happened to Vladimir could have happened to any of us,” said photographer Jeanty Junior Augustin.

“Faced with the total silence of the authorities, we are obliged to go out less… because we don’t know what could happen to us,” Augustin said.

After not hearing from her husband, Fleurette Guerrier began searching for him on the evening of March 14 and filed a report with the police two days later.

A hat belonging to him was recovered with the remains of a body in a vacant lot in Grand Ravine in late March, with investigators saying that DNA testing would be used to confirm the identity of the deceased.

But “so far, the police have not contacted his wife to obtain a sample to compare with the DNA test,” Augustin said.

– ‘Where is Vladjimir?’ –
Haitian journalists organised a silent protest two weeks after Legagneur’s disappearance, with more than 200 people marching behind a simple banner that read: “Where is Vladjimir?”

“With what has happened, we are looking more than before to be safe,” said Jean-Jacques Augustin, the spokesman for the journalists’ and photographers’ union.

“When we have information, we will know more about how to act. But we don’t understand why the police have said nothing all this time,” Augustin said.

The police, for their part, insist that the investigation is ongoing.

“The police continue to search for people involved in the alleged assassination of Legagneur,” police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.

“We did not give up on the case, but as we always say, we cannot divulge our methods in the press,” Lerebours said.

Media rights groups have expressed concern over Legagneur’s fate and urged Haitian authorities to take action.

“A full, transparent investigation would demonstrate to the public and Legagneur’s family and colleagues that authorities respect the vital role of the press in Haiti and are taking his disappearance seriously,” said Maria Salazar-Ferro, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ emergencies director.

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