Three journalists jailed in election aftermath

New York, November 28, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that the DRC’s newly elected authorities have been holding two journalists for the past week, while arresting a third on Saturday. All three are being held incommunicado by police in the capital, Kinshasa, after reporting on the aftermath of presidential elections.

Clément Nku, a cameraman for Canal Congo Télévision, which is owned by presidential contender Jean-Pierre Bemba, and Mbaka Bosange, a reporter for the private weekly Mambenga, were arrested on November 21 while reporting on violence outside the Supreme Court, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) and local journalists. Nku was arrested after he filmed police officers abandoning their uniforms and equipment to flee angry demonstrators before the arrival of U.N. forces, according to the same sources.

Incumbent Joseph Kabila was announced the winner of presidential elections after a second round runoff on October 30, but Bemba contested the results in the Supreme Court. On November 21, the court was set on fire during clashes between his supporters and police. The Supreme Court on Monday confirmed the election results, and Bemba said today he would respect the ruling.

Honoré Kabongo, a host for the religious television station Radiotélévision Kintuadi, was arrested in his studio on November 25, along with cameraman Bienvenu Ngizulu. Security forces interrupted a show in which Kabongo was commenting on insecurity in the capital, according to CPJ sources. Ngizulu was released on Monday, but Kabongo was still in custody today.

None of the imprisoned journalists have been charged, CPJ sources said.

“We’re alarmed that as the nation embarks on a new democratic era, authorities have jailed journalists who were covering or commenting on the election’s aftermath,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Authorities can get off to a better a start by freeing these journalists and ensuring that similar abuses do not recur.”