Rebel forces detain journalist

New York, September 19, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demands the immediate and unconditional release of Franklin Moliba-Sese, a reporter for the United Nations­operated Radio Okapi who was arrested by rebels on Friday, September 13.

That day, fighters from the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), an armed rebel group opposed to the government of President Joseph Kabila, arrested Moliba-Sese in the northwestern town of Gbadolite. He has been in the rebels’ custody since.

According to sources in the capital, Kinshasa, the MLC rebels detained Moliba-Sese in reprisal for a report he had recently filed about the poor living conditions of thousands of MLC child soldiers.

On September 14, MLC rebels in Gbadolite told representatives of the U.N. peacekeeping mission that Moliba-Sese was not under arrest but was being held for an interview. However, the U.N.’s Integrated Regional Information Networks reported on September 18 that the journalist had been transferred to a local jail.

U.N. officials in the DRC, who have unsuccessfully attempted to contact MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, have asked for the journalist’s release.