New York, April 25, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the arrest on criminal defamation charges of a journalist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kazadi Kwambi Kasumpata, of the small private weekly Lubilanji Expansion, was arrested after the Protestant University of Congo lodged a complaint with police over an article he wrote accusing university administrators of embezzlement and poor management.
Kasumpata was detained April 20 and is being held at Kinshasa’s central prison, a local press freedom organization, Journaliste en Danger (JED), reported.
“This case is a perfect illustration of why Congolese authorities must decriminalize press offenses,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “Defamation should always be a civil not a criminal matter. We call on the authorities to release Kazadi Kwambi Kasumpata immediately.”
Another journalist has been jailed in DRC since November 2005 on criminal charges related to his work. Patrice Booto, publisher of Le Journal, which is published three times a week, and its sister publication, Pool Malebo, faces charges of publishing “false rumors,” “insulting the head of state,” and “insulting the government.” However, his case has never come to trial, and the court which was overseeing his case was dissolved following the passage of DRC’s new constitution in December 2005. For more information on Booto, see CPJ’s April 11 alert: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/africa/drc11apr06na.html.