After journalist’s murder, protection urgently needed in DRC
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joins Journalist in Danger (JED), its partner organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in calling for a thorough investigation to quickly identify the perpetrators and circumstances of last weekend’s murder of a community radio journalist in the northeastern province of Ituri.
Was Papy Mahamba Mumbere killed because of his commitment to combatting the Ebola epidemic that has killed thousands in the DRC? He had just hosted a programme on Lwemba Community Radio about the response to the epidemic when he was murdered at his home in the town of Lwemba at around 8 p.m. on 2 November.
According to the information gathered by JED, Mumbere was hacked to death in front of his wife by a group of men armed with knives and machetes, who also inflicted a serious machete injury on his wife when she tried to intervene. They set fire to the couple’s home as they left.
The radio station’s manager said Mumbere’s recent coverage of the measures being taken to combat the Ebola epidemic were not well received by some of the local population and by armed groups, which are increasing hostile to these measures.
JED said it was “extremely shocked” by Mumbere’s murder on the day that is celebrated worldwide as International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
“A thorough investigation is needed to identify and bring to justice those who have forever silenced a journalist committed to combatting an epidemic afflicting his community,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “This terrible murder testifies to the urgency of reinforcing journalists’ safety in the DRC, above all by establishing a special mechanism for protecting them.”
In its annual report published on 2 November, JED said it has so far registered a total of 85 press freedom violations in the DRC in 2019, including 18 acts of aggression, torture or mistreatment of journalists. Last weekend’s murder brings the number of Congolese journalists murdered in the DRC in the past two decades to 15.
During a visit to Kinshasa from 14 to 18 October, RSF joined JED in lobbying for the creation of a network of focal points in the various government agencies and ministries concerned with press freedom, as a first step in establishing a mechanism designed to ensure monitoring at the highest level and a rapid response to violations, in order to reinforce protection for journalists and combat impunity.
The DRC is currently ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.