In what is looking to be more like a military occupation than a humanitarian relief effort, a group of United States Marines confiscated the camera of a journalist who was photographing a demonstration outside the American embassy in Port-au-Prince this week.

The journalist, Homère Cardichon, was on assignment for the daily Le Nouvelliste. He was photographing a demonstration by disgruntled Haitians in the wake of the January 12 earthquake. This is how he explained it to Reporters Without Borders.

“Six marines come up and surrounded me,” Cardichon told us. “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.”

The incident has enraged Reporters Without Borders, the international organization that documents, defends and financially assists reporters around the world whose journalistic rights have been trampled upon ( They even called me after my arrest in 2007 and were satisfied to learn that the Society of Professional Journalists had taken up my cause).

This is what Reporters Without Borders said about the incident in Haiti.

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.

The incident needs to be investigated by the Marines because it contradicts its own honor code. At least the one outlined in the Marines’ Hymn.

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.