Incumbent Joseph Kabila claimed victory in a November presidential election marred by widespread voting irregularities and a spike in attacks on news outlets. While international observers questioned the results, Kabila forces launched a crackdown on dissent. Attacks on the press were concentrated in the capital, Kinshasa, and surrounding Bas Congo province. Supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila's PPRD party and his administration intimidated journalists favorable to chief rival Etienne Tshisekedi; pro-opposition media were targeted in a series of arson attacks. In August, Kabila consolidated his grip on the media by appointing members of a new regulatory board charged with enforcing press laws and meting out penalties. Journalists criticized Kabila for stacking the 15-member agency with government allies, according to news reports. Across the vast nation, powerful local officials and their security forces carried out attacks on the press with impunity in reprisal for critical coverage. And in the country's strife-torn, mineral-rich east, a journalist was murdered amid murky circumstances.
CPJ documented numerous instances of official censorship, assault, intimidation, detention, imprisonment, and legal harassment targeting journalists in Bas Congo province, home of the capital.
Many of the anti-press attacks in Bas Congo were physical assaults, CPJ research shows. The police and ruling party supporters carried out most of the violence.
At least two news media workers went missing, according to CPJ research. In neither case have police uncovered information about the individuals' whereabouts.
Media workers who vanished:
1998: Belmonde Magloire Missinhoun, a Benin national and owner of the independent financial newspaper La Pointe Congo, was last seen being arrested after a traffic accident with a military vehicle in Kinshasa.
A number of government officials were accused of attacking or threatening journalists, but the Kabila administration did not hold any of them accountable, CPJ research shows.
Four attacks, no accountability:
2006: Republican Guard soldiers assaulted a journalist.
2007: The education minister was accused of ordering police to beat journalists who were in his office for an interview.
2008: Ruling party militants assaulted five cameramen.
2011: A ruling party member of parliament was taped threatening a journalist.
CPJ has documented eight journalist deaths between 2005 and 2011. One murder was in direct retaliation for the journalist's work; CPJ is investigating the other cases to determine whether they were work-related. There was one common thread: In all of the cases, the killers wore uniforms of the security forces. CPJ research found that official investigations fell short in the collection and handling of forensic evidence, in transparency and scope, and in their failure to determine motives.
Killings by uniformed assailants:
November 3, 2005: Franck Kangundu in Kinshasa. Motive unconfirmed.
July 8, 2006: Bapuwa Mwamba in Kinshasa. Motive unconfirmed.
June 13, 2007: Serge Maheshe in Bukavu. Motive confirmed as work-related.
August 9, 2007: Patrick Kikuku Wilungula in Goma. Motive unconfirmed.
November 21, 2008: Didace Namujimbo in Bukavu. Motive unconfirmed.
August 23, 2009: Bruno Koko Chirambiza in Bukavu. Motive unconfirmed.
April 5, 2010: Patient Chebeya in Beni. Motive unconfirmed.
June 22, 2011: Witness-Patchelly Kambale Musonia in Kirumba. Motive unconfirmed.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.