Five DRC reporters freed after being held by police

2018-10-21 18:06
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Five journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo were freed on Friday after 12 hours of interrogation by police following the publication of articles on the misappropriation of rations for police cadets, their newspaper said.

The five journalists had been allowed to leave and told to return on Monday with AfricaNews managing editor Achille Kadima, it said in a statement.

The detentions followed a series of prosecutions of journalists in the troubled nation, which is just two months away from tense elections to replace President Joseph Kabila.

"It is unbelievable and very disturbing that the police have arrested journalists who revealed that a police investigation was being conducted into alleged misappropriation," said Arnaud Froger, the head of Reporters Without Border's Africa desk.

The journalists - Octave Mukendi, Bruce Landu, Roddy Bosakwa, Dan Luyila and Laurent Omba - "just did their job by informing the public that an investigation was under way."

DR Congo ranks 154th out of 180 countries on the press freedoms index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Journalists harassed, arrested

The journalists had been working at the offices of the tri-weekly newspaper overnight to finish the latest edition when they were arrested on the premises.

The officers who took them did not show any documents, Kadima told AFP, adding that he had gone into hiding.

Earlier, he had written a letter to the national police chief complaining that police had conducted a "roundup" of copies of AfricaNews from newsstands.

On the front page of the current issue, the paper carried a story on an inquiry into misappropriation of police cadet rations, adding the head of the country's police academies had been summoned.

General Celestin Kanyama is under sanctions by the United States, which accused him of responsibility for a 2013-2014 police operation in which at least 50 young men and boys were reportedly killed and more than 30 others were forcibly "disappeared".

When approached by AFP over the case of the reporters, Kanyama said: "Stop your bullshit. Do not quote me over things I know nothing about."

This year around 20 journalists have been harassed or arrested in DRC, said Joseph-Boucard Kasonga, president of the UNPC national press union.

RSF on Wednesday also sounded the alarm over the case of reporter Sylvanie Kiaku, of the weekly La Percee, who has been detained for more than a week on charges of defamation, over two articles she wrote about redundancies at a local bank.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa

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