As the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 28 November election date draws closer, intimidation of journalists is escalating. NGOs Reporters Without Borders and Journaliste en Danger are sufficiently concerned about the situation to write an open letter to officials, asking them to secure the safety of journalists during the election.
The letter, addressed to prime minister and interior minister Adolphe Lumanu Mulenda Bwana N’Sefu. asked him to ensure “journalists be allowed to carry out their work without being treated as targets”. An eminently reasonable request which the government should heed. That said, the right of journalists to go about their jobs is hardly a given in the DRC.
Among recent attacks on journalists listed in the letter are the following:
- The detention of Odon Mwamba for “injurious imputation” on 23 October. Mwamba, who works for private newspaper La Grogne, was held for 72 hours;
- The eviction of Congo Media Channel from its offices. The station is owned by Kudura Kasongo, an opposition politician;
- The detention and questioning of CMC TV journalist Guy-Roger Tshitenge during a demonstration against the eviction on 28 October, and the beating up of fellow CMC TV employee Natalie Kalombo;
- The questioning of two Radio Okapi journalists covering an opposition demonstration. Mirielle Kanzoka and Tania Mulenda also had their equipment confiscated;
- The questioning of Radio Mont Camel Television cameraman Serge Kayeye, who was reporting on the elections. He was detained for several hours on 28 October and also had his camera confiscated;
- The questioning and 48-hour detention of Radio Lisanga Television cameraman Pierre Tshishiku, who was filming an opposition demonstration on 29 October.
If the DRC government doesn’t make a firm commitment to uphold the rights of journalists, this list will probably grow longer over the next few weeks.
Free African Media, THERESA MALLINSON: DRC journalists harassed in election build-up