December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Congo {Democratic Republic}

Congo November 4, 2005

H.E. Joseph Kabila
President
Office of the President
Palais de la Nation
Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of Congo
Fax: (011.243.81) 02120
 

Your Excellency:
 

The climate of repression and harassment of the press that continues to characterize the Democratic Republic of Congo is shocking to the members of the Overseas Press Club of America, who have protested challenges to freedom of the press throughout the world for more than 65 years.
 

For example, on September 17, Luckson Kabala and Mayumba Mayribu, journalists with Congolese National Radio-Television in Kisangana, Eastern Province, were suspended indefinitely for their coverage of the Kinshasa teachers’ strike by William Betua, the station’s provincial director on orders of the provincial governor. The two journalists were accused of “inciting revolting.” Kabala had read a press release on air that had been issued by the province’s labor union network, calling on public employees to strike in solidarity with the Kinshasa teachers’ strike. During the September 15 edition of his “La gaiete au Zenith” program, Mayribu commented that the government was “irresponsible” for not respecting the commitments it had made to the teachers’ union in February, 2004.
 

On September 20, three independent Kinshasa newspapers – Pool Malebo, Le Journal and L’Ouragan – were suspended for three months. According to Journaliste En Danger (JED), the three suspensions reveal a “totalitarian abuse of power” which has characterized your country’s media regulatory body in recent months and “a glaring lack of independence” in the regulatory body’s chief. JED pointed out that international norms state that “freedom of expression includes the right to seek, receive and impart all types of opinions, ideas and information. It shall not be limited to such categories as correct opinions, wholesome ideas or truthful information.”
 

On September 2, community radio station, Radio Moka , in Impfondo, a town in the department of Likouala, was suspended indefinitely by the Likouala prefect. According to JED, the grievances against Radio Moka are linked to its treatment of news as well as administrative issues.
 

In Bukavu and the eastern provinces of your country, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has denounced the atmosphere of fear created since the murder of human rights activist Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi on August 1st. One journalist from the community radio station Maendeleo told RSF, “We have to censor ourselves if we want to save our skins. In the current context, in which the life of journalist or a human-rights activist is worth nothing, how do you expect us to say what we know?”
 

Your Excellency, the RSF report detailed the creation of a “climate of permanent psychosis” in which independent journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo risk exposing themselves to “severe reprisals.” Such a situation is appalling. We urge you to take every step available to restore freedom of the press in your country, and to protect the rights and lives of independent journalists. Such a program can only strengthen your democracy.

 

Respectfully yours,
Kevin McDermott
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

 

Faida Maramuke Mitifu

Ambassador of the D.R. of Congo to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo

1800 New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Washington , DC 20009

Fax: (202) 234-2609

 

 

Ambassador Ileka Atoki

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United Nations

866 United Nations Plaza , Suite 511

New York , NY 10017

Fax: (212) 319-8232

 

 

Roger A. Meece

U. S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Embassy of the United States of America

310 Avenue des Aviateurs

Comune de la Gombe

Kinshasa

Dem. Rep. of Congo

Fax: (011.243.81) 39-02-12