Kinshasa, October 31, 2022 — Authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo should thoroughly investigate and hold accountable the military officials and soldiers who detained and assaulted journalist Christophe Katembo Muthahinga over his traffic coverage in eastern North Kivu province, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On October 19, four Congolese military intelligence agents arrested and detained Katembo, a reporter with local broadcaster Radio du Peuple Oicha, on a roadway between the capital of Ituri province, Bunia, and the eastern city of Oicha while he photographed a traffic jam and interviewed drivers, according to Katembo and Issa Musango, director of Radio du Peuple Oicha, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Local media reported that traders moving goods along that roadway expressed displeasure with the economic toll of traffic jams in that area, which have allegedly been caused by roadblocks erected by a local revenue authority.
Katembo said he was detained in a holding cell at the Beni military prosecutor’s office, where soldiers punched the journalist in the face for several hours. “I told them that I am a journalist,” Katembo told CPJ, adding that he has severe pain in his face and hearing problems from the beating and that he received treatment for at a local hospital in Beni.
“DRC authorities must launch an investigation into the arrest and mistreatment of Radio du Peuple Oicha journalist Christophe Katembo Muthahinga,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, from Johannesburg. “There is no excuse for denying journalists their ability to cover issues of public interest.”
Authorities released Katembo around 2 p.m. on October 20, following the intervention of Charles Ehuta Omeonga, a colonel and administrator for the territory of Beni. CPJ’s calls to Ehuta were not answered.
Vicky Lopombo, a military magistrate responsible for military prosecutions in the area, told CPJ by phone that he was not informed of Muthahinga’s arrest and would look into it.