Radio station in DRC shut down for broadcasting `bad French’

New York, June 15, 2007— Intelligence agents in the Democratic Republic of Congo shut down a privately owned radio station for “intoxicating the population” and “broadcasting in bad French.” It was the sixth Congolese broadcaster this year to be raided by security forces over its coverage.

Radio Canal Satellite remained off the air today after a raid last Saturday by three agents of the Congolese National Intelligence Agency (ANR), according to the local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) and news reports.

“The world’s jails would be full if bad French were a crime,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “Clearly Congolese authorities are making it up as they go along and using any pretext to shut down independent broadcasters. We call on authorities to allow Radio Canal Satellite back on the air immediately.”

The agents confiscated equipment after the station’s staff fled the studios fearing arrest, local journalists told CPJ. They said Canal Satellite’s director, Yves Beya, had received several phone threats.

Gustave Amuri, the ANR deputy chief in Tshikapa, 405 miles (650 km) southeast of the capital Kinshasa, later accused the station of “operating without ANR documents,” “intoxicating the population,” and “broadcasting in bad French,” according to local media.

Local journalists said Amuri cited three things in the broadcast he objected to, including a report about a pay dispute between Congolese workers and Lebanese employers in Kinshasa.

The country’s press laws do not grant ANR any authority in media regulation.

Last month, CPJ named the DRC one of the world’s worst backsliders on press freedom.