Journalist jailed for more than a week for “insulting” an official

New York, February 7, 2006—Jean-Louis Ngalamulume, publisher of the private newspaper L’Eclaireur, has been jailed since January 27 in the capital, Kinshasa, on charges of publishing “public insults” against a government official, according to the press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) and the secretary-general of the Congolese press union.

Police questioned Ngalamulume about a January 11 article that described as “incompetent” and “tribalistic” an official who maintains real estate documents, according to JED. Ngalamulume was brought before a judge on January 28, and he was transferred to the Kinshasa central prison on January 31.

“It’s outrageous that journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to be thrown in jail for what they write,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Individuals who feel unjustly attacked in the press have a right to seek redress, but that should not include criminal sanctions such as imprisonment.”

L’Eclaireur is a small newspaper that appears sporadically, according to JED and the Congolese press union.