Congolese journalists need protective laws, RSF and JED tell UN council
In the run-up to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s next Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its partner organization, Journalist in Danger (JED), condemn the hostile environment and repressive legislation to which Congolese journalists and media are exposed.
The Congolese authorities have yet to implement any of the recommendations regarding press freedom that they accepted at the DRC’s last Universal Periodic Review four years ago. For example, no “appropriate measure” has been taken to “protect journalists.”
In their joint contribution (see attached) to the Human Rights Council review, RSF and JED call for the immediate adoption of a press freedom law that the Congolese parliament has been discussing for more than three years, and for a law on access to information.
The DRC continues to use a press law that was adopted under the Mobutu dictatorship in 1996, under which defamation and insult are punishable by prison sentences and heavy fines in accordance with the penal code.
The situation for the media is alarming in the absence of protective legislation, RSF and JED stress in their contribution. Journalists are exposed to an environment that includes violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrest. RSF registered a total of 62 press freedom violations in the DRC in the first eight months of 2018, more than in any other country in sub-Saharan Africa.
Harassment of the media is growing in the run-up to the presidential election that is finally scheduled for 23 December, after being delayed for two years. The latest example was the dismissal of three journalists with the state-owned national radio and TV broadcaster, RTNC, for covering a meeting organized by one of President Joseph Kabila’s opponents.
In July, RSF held the authorities responsible for the fate of two journalists who had to flee their homes after making a documentary about villagers being evicted from land claimed by President Kabila.
The DRC is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
The full analysis by RSF and JED, together with their recommendations, can be downloaded here: