Authorities arrested journalist Blaise Mabala and accused him of insulting a provincial government official during his October 18, 2023, radio program. (Photo credit: Blaise Mabala)
DRC journalist Blaise Mabala was released on May 10, 2024, after more than four months in detention. (Photo: Blaise Mabala)

DRC journalist Blaise Mabala freed after 4 months in jail over insult to governor

Kinshasa, May 10, 2024 — The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the acquittal and release of journalist Blaise Mabala after more than four months in detention and calls for authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to swiftly reform their laws to prevent the criminal prosecution of journalists for their work.

“The acquittal and release of journalist Blaise Mabala in the DRC are welcome developments, but the four-and-a-half months he spent in detention and the legal harassment he endured remain a grave injustice,” said Angela Quintal, head of CPJ’s Africa program. “DRC authorities must make significant reforms to advance press freedom in the country and ensure journalists are protected, not prosecuted, for their work.”

A court in Kinshasa, the capital, acquitted Mabala, coordinator of the privately owned Même Morale FM, on May 3, but only made their decision public on May 6, Mabala’s lawyer, Christian Mwamba, told CPJ via messaging app.

Mwamba said Mabala was not freed from detention until Friday, May 10, due to administrative formalities.

The acquittal followed an April 17 court hearing during which the prosecutor requested that Mabala be convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison. Mabala was arrested on October 20, 2023, and accused of insulting Rita Bola, governor of the western province of Maï-Ndombe, in a radio program. Mabala was released on bail on November 7 but re-arrested on December 29 on the same charges.