CPJ protests wave of attacks on the press

New York, June 28, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed at a recent wave of attacks on the press in Tshikapa, a town in southern Democratic Republic of Congo where authorities have detained two journalists and harassed several more. One journalist has gone into hiding after the provincial governor called publicly for his arrest, according to local sources.

On June 14 and 15, Laurent Lukengu Badimanye, a reporter with private radio station KHRT in Tshikapa, was summoned to the national security agency and asked the names of soldiers he interviewed about discontent in the military, according to the local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED). The journalist refused to reveal his sources.

Léon Mwamba, the Tshikapa correspondent for private Kinshasa-based daily La Prospérité, was detained yesterday and held for 24 hours by security agents, who questioned him about a JED statement reprinted in La Prospérité on June 21. The JED statement reported the security agents’ interrogation of Lukengu. Mwamba told JED that agents searched him, stripped him, and threatened his life.

Ali Tshitoko, a journalist with community radio station Radio Sumbula No. 1, was arrested today by security agents and held for more than four hours for reporting on the harassment of journalists, according to JED.

Casimir Ntwite, director of Radio Concorde in Tshikapa has been in hiding since Sunday after the governor of Kasaï Occidental province, André Claudel Lubaya, called publicly for his arrest, according to local news reports. The statement came after a broadcast on Saturday, during which Ntwite interviewed politicians from the presidential and opposition parties on the postponement of elections, according to Freddy Mulongo, president of the Congolese community radio association ARCO.

At a meeting yesterday, the Tshikapa Security Council named Ntwite, Jean Delor Kabamba of Radio Lumière, Esaï Musungayi of Radio Universelle and JED correspondent Sosthène Kambidi as “agents of unrest,” according to JED. The Security Council includes the governor and members of civilian and military security forces.

“We call on Governor André Claudel Lubaya to ensure an immediate halt to these outrageous abuses,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “Journalists must be allowed to carry out their work without fear of reprisal during this crucial transition to democracy.”