CPJ Appeals to Pope John Paul II on Behalf of Congolese Journalists

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November 23, 1998

His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Apostolic Palace
00120
Vatican City

 

Your Holiness:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) writes to inform you of the persecution of journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the hope that during your meeting with President Laurent-Desire Kabila you will appeal for the release of those who are in prison, and for an end to ongoing violations of press freedom taking place in the country.

Currently, there are nine journalists in prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, it is feared that one journalist, who is regarded as missing, has been killed. The majority of the imprisoned journalists are being held incommunicado, under inhumane and life-threatening conditions, without charge, medical treatment, visitation privileges for family members, or legal representation. These journalists are being detained simply for carrying out their professional responsibilities, a blatant violation of their right to hold and express opinions and ideas as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, to which the Democratic Republic of Congo is a signatory.

As an organization dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, we believe that Your Holiness' meeting with President Kabila comes at a critical time for journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo who have been targeted for their reports on the ongoing war in the region, killings of civilians, repression of political opposition, and official corruption.

CPJ is concerned that these attacks on the press signal a broader assault on human rights.

Furthermore, if the elections President Kabila has promised are to be free and fair, it is vital that the press be free and independent of restrictions.

CPJ most respectfully urges Your Holiness to highlight the plight of journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to urge for the release of those who are imprisoned.

It is our belief that your efforts could have a significant impact on their fate as proven in Cuba, when President Fidel Castro released approximately 300 prisoners after your visit there earlier this year.

Please find attached a list of journalists who are in prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the cases of press freedom violations CPJ has documented since President Kabila became head of state. We thank you for your efforts.

Sincerely,

Kakuna Kerina
Program Coordinator for Africa


For details on press freedom conditions in Congo Click Here


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