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US marines seize Haitian photographer's camera

(RSF/IFEX) - Three weeks after the earthquake, the Haitian press has just had its first serious run-in with the US military. Homère Cardichon, a photographer working for the daily "Le Nouvelliste", had his camera confiscated by US marines on 3 February 2010 while covering a demonstration by disgruntled residents outside the US embassy in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Tabarre.

RSF urges culture and communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn-Lassègue to demand an explanation from the US military authorities.

"Six marines came up and surrounded me," Cardichon told RSF. "Then they took my camera in my opened work bag and left with it. An hour later, one of them came back and photographed me. Then he returned my camera to me. I saw that the soldiers had erased some of the photos."

There is growing discontent in Port-au-Prince with the countries involved in the humanitarian relief effort, including the United States. In this case, the US soldiers reacted in the worst possible manner in an attempt to protect their image. Aside from being a flagrant act of censorship, it has done further harm to their reputation in the eyes of the Haitian population. The government has a right to expect an explanation from the US military and to hope that such an incident will not recur.

News and information is vital for reconstruction in Haiti and for the efforts of its citizens to start rebuilding their lives. As regards the news media, it is time for Haiti's own journalists to be playing a leading role again.

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