Demonstration outside DRC embassy in Paris to call for journalist’s release

Robin Grassi / RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and journalists with the Paris-based news monthly Jeune Afrique protested outside the Democratic Republic of Congo embassy in Paris today (15 March) to demand the release of Jeune Afrique’s Kinshasa correspondent, for whom a Congolese prosecutor has requested a 20-year prison sentence. A court in Kinshasa is expected to deliver a verdict in his trial in the next few days.

“Stanis Bujakera, a journalist facing a possible 20-year prison sentence,” was the message displayed in huge letters on an advertising truck that RSF stationed outside the DRC embassy this morning. Calls for the release of Stanis Bujakera, who has been held since 8 September, were chanted by around 50 demonstrators, consisting of members of RSF and Jeune Afrique journalists.

Bujakera is accused of “fabricating and disseminating” a confidential memo by the DRC’s National Intelligence Agency (ANR) that implicated a Congolese military intelligence agency in the murder of an opposition spokesperson. The prosecutor requested a 20-year sentence at the end of Bujakera’s Kafkaesque’s trial on 8 March. The court must render its verdict by 20 March.

“After a five-month trial that exposed the prosecution’s lies, the prosecutor’s summing up and the sentence he requested for Stanis Bujakera were extremely disturbing. If the court accepts his recommendation, this sentence would quite simply be one of the heaviest ever passed on a journalist in Central Africa since the start of this century. The only honourable way out for the Congolese justice system now is to acquit Bujakera.

Arnaud Froger
head of RSF’s investigation desk

​​“We still hope that the law will prevail but we are very concerned about the way the investigation and trial were conducted. The public prosecutor was unable to provide any evidence of Stanis Bujakera’s guilt. The prosecution has no case. Even the experts we turned to said our journalist could not have been the first person to circulate the document he is accused of fabricating. Nothing holds up in this case and yet an extremely heavy sentence has been requested for Stanis.

Marwane Ben Yahmed
Jeune Afrique publisher

Arrested on the basis of false accusations, Bujakera has been subjected to defamatory claims and a trumped-up prosecution case throughout his trial. He is accused of writing an article for Jeune Afrique – an article that did not carry his by-line – referring to an intelligence agency memo that he allegedly fabricated and then circulated.

But an investigation by RSF demonstrated that Bujakera was not the first person to have a copy of the memo, and several authoritative sources assured RSF that the memo is a genuine Congolese intelligence agency document.

The report by a so-called technical expert that the prosecution used as grounds for claiming that it was Bujakera who circulated the memo was the subject of subsequent investigation by a media consortium including Jeune Afrique, which established that the report was completely bogus.


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