DRC police attack journalists covering protest

Congolese police on July 22, 2014, beat three TV journalists while they were covering a protest outside the offices of Molière TV, a broadcast station based in the capital, Kinshasa.

Correspondent Fabrice Yembo and cameramen Delo Demolo and Girèsse Mabiala were interviewing motorcycle taxi drivers who were protesting their alleged harassment by traffic police, the journalists told CPJ. Traffic police had come to the demonstration to disperse the protesters, Yembo said.

The officers accused the Molière TV journalists of disturbing the peace and beat them “like little dogs,” Yembo said. Yembo and Demolo were driven to the neighboring military camp of Lufungula, where police beat them again, he said. “I’m still fearful,” he told CPJ. “We have become a target of the police. … We are in danger here.”

Mabiala was able to avoid police custody and returned to the station, Yembo said. Yembo and Demolo were kept at Camp Lufungula for several hours before being released, according to local organizations.

Demolo told CPJ that police broke his camera, ripped off his pants, and stole his cellphone and US$150. Police stole Mabiala’s camera and US$138 and Yembo’s cellphone, the journalists said. The three journalists sought treatment at a local hospital for head and other injuries.

Police also attacked the Molière TV bureau on the same day, breaking cameras and a window in the entry door, according to Molière TV director Leon Nemmbalemba, who spoke with CPJ, and several local organizations.

Communications Minister Lambert Mende and the interior minister did not immediately respond to CPJ’s requests for comment.