A Dominican journalist who broke the news of the detention and deportation of businessman Dowlin Alexander from Antigua and Barbuda, woke up over the weekend to the news that his vehicle had been firebombed by unknown assailants.
He believes that his breaking of the news and the firebombing of his vehicle may be linked.
Carlisle Jno Baptiste, who owns the Dominican online news outlet, Nature Isle News, reported that Alexander was detained by police and immigration officials last week Thursday.
According to his outlet, Interpol had issued a notice for his arrest, as Alexander has been wanted by French authorities for alleged involvement in criminal activities in the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe.
On Saturday afternoon, the wanted businessman was deported back to Dominica according to reports, with Jno-Baptiste having his vehicle destroyed early yesterday morning.
Jno-Baptiste said that he found the entire situation deeply distressing.
“I do not want to cast aspersions, but I am suspicious as I would have written so many stories, and have been in this business for 25 years; this is cause for concern,” he said.
According to Jno Baptiste, his son noticed the blaze at 2:15 am yesterday which he said had shaken him slightly.
However, he said that this would not distract him from his job as a journalist, emphasising that, “I am not bothered by this because I just do what I have to do…that is not going to [dissuade me].”
Observer media also spoke to the former President of the Media Workers Association in Dominica, Matt Peltier, who believed that the situation highlighted issues faced by journalists in the region.
“I have been in this business for a very long time, and I have received threats over and over again, but this incident propelled [to the fore] one of things that I have been concerned about… we have to keep telling the truth and trying to be transparent; I am hoping that the authorities, the governments of both Dominica and Antigua will investigate, because it is not fair what is happening with journalists,” he said.
Peltier said that the news could send a negative signal to youth interested in the field.
“It is sending a bad signal because you would think this is Colombia where you hear more of these types of stories…and I am hoping that this is not some intimidation tactic by those concerned to prevent journalist from doing their work,” he said.
Peltier said that it was time that CARICOM leaders take seriously the rights of journalists to investigate issues, and he called for legislation across the region “to give journalist a little more leeway to doing their research.”
“We do not have the freedom of the press that we should have in the Caribbean, information from these countries is heavily controlled,” he said
The Grand Bay resident, Dowlin Alexander, also known as ‘Underground’, had retained the services of attorney-at-law Wendell Robinson through his Dominican representatives, according to the Nature Isle story.