News24

DRC press body denounces repression

2011-12-30 08:16

Kinshasa - A non-governmental organisation that defends journalists' rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo denounced on Thursday an "escalation of repression" in the media around elections last month.

Journaliste En Danger (Journalist in Danger), presenting its annual report, said it had registered "at least 160 cases of various assaults on the freedom of the press, almost half of which took place during the electoral period" from October to December.

The organisation launched "an urgent appeal to the powers in place to stop the escalation of repression which has hit the press since the post-electoral crisis".

Outgoing president Joseph Kabila was declared winner of the November 28 poll and has since been sworn in, but he has been challenged by veteran opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi, who last week held his own "swearing in" ceremony.

Another election, for the fractious country's parliament, was held the same day and the results have yet to be released. Some 19 000 candidates were vying for 500 seats.

JED said its report was the worst since 2007, the year after the first election of Kabila, in which 163 cases of attacks on press freedom were reported.

In 2011, JED reported a journalist killed in June in the eastern Nord-Kivu province, as well as 42 cases of imprisonment or detention, 57 cases of threats or aggression, including armed attacks on press buildings, 43 cases of censorship and 17 cases of pressure on media outlets.

The organisation lashed out in particular at the Higher Council for the Audiovisual Sector and Communication (CSAC), which it accused of failing to live up to its mission of promoting and guaranteeing the right to a free press with high professional standards.

Faced with its "avowed incapacity [... to] assert its independence," JED urged the head of state to "order the dissolution" of the CSAC, which was only definitively installed last September, "pending the setting up of a more credible and more competent body."