Journalists detained, beaten in Democratic Republic of Congo

New York, March 17, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to respect the right of journalists to do their work without fear of arrest or harm.

On Sunday, police detained about 30 individuals at a pro-democracy gathering in the capital, Kinshasa, according to news reports. Four foreign journalists, working for Agence France-Presse, the BBC, and the Belgian broadcaster RTBF, were briefly detained, but two Congolese journalists working for the BBC and the TV channel Antenne A, are still in custody, news reports said. Police also forced reporters to delete photos from their phones or confiscated their equipment, news reports said.

One journalist, freelance Belgian reporter Alexis Bouvy, said he was assaulted while covering a demonstration in Goma that protested the mass detentions, the reports said.

“The media has a vital role to play in ensuring that citizens have access to information about events taking place around them,” said Sue Valentine, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “Journalists deserve the protection of security forces during demonstrations.”

These violations come at a particularly tense time for journalists working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In January, authorities blocked Internet and cellphone service, and more than 40 people were killed during a series of protests over the possible postponement of elections by President Joseph Kabila, according to news reports. The country is scheduled to hold presidential elections in 2016.

  • For more data and analysis on the DRC, visit CPJ’s DRC page here.