Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala, deputy director of publication for Congolese news website and a reporter for Reuters and Jeune Afrique, was arrested on September 8, 2023, in Kinshasa. (Photo courtesy of Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala)

CPJ condemns charging, detention of DRC journalist Stanis Bujakera

New York, September 22, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the charging and ongoing detention of journalist Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala and calls on Congolese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

On September 8, police officers arrested Bujakera, a reporter for the privately owned Jeune Afrique news website and Reuters, as well as deputy director of publication for the local news website, and accused him of “spreading false rumors” and “disseminating false information.”

Authorities subsequently charged Bujakera with spreading falsehoods, forgery, the use of forged documents, and distributing false documents, according to his lawyer, Hervé Diakiese, and news reports.

The Kinshasa-Gombe court is expected to rule on a request by Bujakera’s lawyer for the journalist’s provisional release on Monday, September 25, according to news reports.

“DRC authorities must drop all legal proceedings against journalist Stanis Bujakera, release him, and reform the country’s laws to ensure journalists are never arrested or jailed for their work,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, from Durban, South Africa. “The additional charges against Bujakera, who is internationally renowned for his reporting, are only the most recent, glaring example of the harassment and criminalization faced by DRC journalists.”

On September 11, authorities placed Bujakera in pretrial detention and, on September 14, transferred him to Makala central prison in the capital, Kinshasa.

The charges relate to an August 31 Jeune Afrique report about military intelligence’s possible involvement in the murder of former Congolese Transport Minister Chérubin Okende that did not name Bujakera as the author, and the outlet said he did not write. 

Bujakera has been charged under the combined application of the DRC’s digital code, press law, and penal code, which all criminalize the online sharing of information deemed false, Diakiese said.  

During a press conference on Tuesday, September 19, in New York, DRC President Félix Tshisekedi said he would not intervene in Bujakera’s case, citing the separation of powers between the justice system and the executive branch.