CPJ condemns murder of Congolese journalist in Equateur province

New York, April 23, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of Soleil Balanga, a journalist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and calls on Congolese authorities to ensure that they conduct a thorough investigation and that the perpetrator is brought to justice.

Balanga, a radio reporter for the local station Monkoto Soso Aleli in the city of Monkoto, Equateur province in the north of the country, was headed home from work on April 16 when he was attacked by a single assailant, according to the local station Radio Okapi and the local press freedom organization Observatory for the Freedom of the Press in Africa. The journalist’s throat was slit, and he died from blood loss, the reports said.

The Monkoto Soso Aleli radio station had been off the air for several weeks because of a broken transmitter, according to the reports. In an effort to continue reporting, Balanga would walk through the town early every morning and announce the local news using a megaphone, the sources said. The day before Balanga was killed, he reported on the supervisor of the Monkoto General Hospital being replaced.

“Soleil Balanga showed a deep commitment to informing his community by overcoming technical challenges he faced,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “Congolese authorities must conduct a credible and efficient investigation into this senseless murder and ensure that the killer is held to account.”

The community in Monkoto was divided following the announcement of the hospital’s new supervisor, with some residents supporting the new appointment and others in support of the outgoing supervisor, according to the reports. On April 15, citizens marched in support of the newly appointed supervisor. Radio Okapi said that the provincial minister of health deferred the new assignment.

Police arrested the son of the former hospital supervisor as a suspect in the murder, according to the reports. He remains in custody. CPJ could not determine whether he had been charged or if he has responded to the accusations.

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