Jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing DRC protests ar­rested, beaten

African Independent - - NEWS - MEL FRYKBERG

JEAN Pierre Tshibit­shabu, a reporter for the in­de­pen­dent broad­caster Ra­dio Tele­vi­sion Kadekas, is due to ap­pear in a Lubum­bashi court, in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC), on charges of “in­cite­ment and provo­ca­tion”.

The charges against Tshibit­shabu re­late to July protests he was cov­er­ing call­ing for elec­tions to be held in the DRC, ac­cord­ing to the jour­nal­ist’s lawyer, David Ilunga She­ria, and the Con­golese press free­dom ad­vo­cacy or­gan­i­sa­tion Jour­nal­istes en Dan­ger.

Se­cu­rity forces ar­rested Tshibit­shabu in Lubum­bashi on July 31 as he tried to doc­u­ment events. On the day of his ar­rest, po­lice con­fis­cated his phone and seized about 30 000 Con­golese francs ($19) as well as $20 in cash.

The Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists (CPJ) has called for the DRC au­thor­i­ties to drop all charges against Tshibit­shabu and si­mul­ta­ne­ously in­ves­ti­gate claims he was as­saulted while in cus­tody. “Con­golese au­thor­i­ties should im­me­di­ately re­lease Tshibit­shabu, drop all charges against the jour­nal­ist, and take ac­tion against those who at­tacked him in prison,” said CPJ Africa Pro­gramme co-or­di­na­tor An­gela Quin­tal.

“Jour­nal­ists must be per­mit­ted to op­er­ate freely with­out fear of ha­rass­ment or de­ten­tion in the DRC, es­pe­cially dur­ing times of ten­sion,” she added.

Llunga said when he was leav­ing Kas­apa Cen­tral Prison after vis­it­ing the jour­nal­ist on Au­gust 18, he wit­nessed prison in­mates re­peat­edly slap and hit Tshibit­shabu, and said the guards did not in­ter­vene.

The lawyer said that the jour­nal­ist sus­tained mul­ti­ple cuts and bruises in the at­tack, adding that the prison failed to pro­vide ad­e­quate med­i­cal treat­ment and his client was still suf­fer­ing from mul­ti­ple in­juries.

CPJ said re­peated phone calls to Kas­apa prison di­rec­tor Justin Ku­tule went unan­swered. When CPJ con­tacted the Lubum­bashi po­lice, a per­son who iden­ti­fied him­self only as Ma­jor Paul re­fused to com­ment.

Chaertk Ntamdwe, the di­rec­tor of Ra­dio Tele­vi­sion Kadekas, told CPJ the sta­tion is con­tact­ing in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to high­light Tshibit­shabu’s case and se­cure his re­lease.

The DRC has ex­pe­ri­enced un­rest since De­cem­ber last year, when Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila failed to hold sched­uled elec­tions at the end of his term.

CPJ is aware of at least 18 other jour­nal­ists de­tained or ha­rassed by DRC se­cu­rity forces on the same day Tshibit­shabu was ar­rested.

The other ar­rested jour­nal­ists were re­leased with­out charge, but four po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists who were also ar­rested face charges.

Tshibit­shabu plans to file a com­plaint against the se­cu­rity forces. – ANA


A jour­nal­ist from the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo at work, talk­ing live to his au­di­ence on an op­po­si­tion meet­ing in Bel­gium. In the DRC jour­nal­ists are in­creas­ingly threat­ened by Joseph Kablia’s gov­ern­ment. File photo: Thierry Char­lier

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