DRC: RSF, several media and international personalities call for the release of Stanis Bujakera

Alongside the media Jeune Afrique and Actualité.cd for which Stanis Bujakera works, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is once again calling for the release of the Congolese journalist, who has been held since 8 September 2023. A number of prominent figures have joined the public campaign. A new hearing in the case will take place in Kinshasa on 12 January.

“Without dignity, there is no freedom, without justice, there is no dignity, and without independence, there are no free men.” These words, which Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, wrote from prison in his last letter to his wife, Pauline, in November 1960, resonate with renewed force today in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stanis Bujakera – the DRC’s most popular journalist with more than 570,000 followers on X, the Kinshasa correspondent of Reuters and the Paris-based news magazine Jeune Afrique, and deputy editor of the Congolese news site Actualite.cd – has been held in a crowded prison cell in Kinshasa for the past four months because of a Jeune Afrique story linking a Congolese military intelligence agency to the murder of Chérubin Okende, a former government minister turned opposition politician.

“My imprisonment is a test for independent journalism’s future in the DRC,” Bujakera told RSF when it visited him in prison in October. “There is no way I will give in to imaginary accusations,” he added.

Hastily trumped-up charges

Investigations carried out by RSF and the Congo Hold-Up consortium have demonstrated that the case against Bujakera was hastily fabricated by the prosecution.

Arrested on 8 September on the basis of a wanted notice, Bujakera was initially accused of having circulated – and then of having forged – the confidential internal memo written by an official within the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) that served as the basis for the Jeune Afrique story.

The prosecutor’s grounds for keeping him in prison was nothing more than a technical report by a police “expert” that it requested only after his arrest. No additional investigative action was taken. The only statements in the prosecution case file are Bujakera’s.

The government, the prosecutor’s office and its “expert” maintain that the confidential ANR memo was forged, but they have produced no evidence to support this claim. The court has so far not heard testimony from any witness or expert about the memo and its contents.

RSF, which has conducted one of the two independent investigations into this case, believes that the memo is authentic. This is also the view of the Belgian lawyer engaged by the murdered Congolese politician’s family, who has filed a complaint in Belgium against the head of the Congolese military intelligence agency that is named in the ANR memo. 

Technical impossibility

While on the one hand accusing Bujakera of forging the memo, the prosecutor’s office also claims that he received it via the Telegram instant messaging service and was thereafter the first person to begin circulating it. The police expert used by the  prosecutor’s office claimed that he identified Bujakera from analysis of the metadata of the photo of the memo shared via Telegram and WhatsApp. But this is technically impossible, according to the Telegram and WhatsApp representatives who were contacted in the course of the investigation that Congo Hold-Up conducted jointly with Jeune Afrique.

As for the IP address from which Bujakera supposedly shared the memo, it belongs to the Spanish company Bullhost, which says it is used solely on an internal server.

Claiming to accede to a defence request for a report by an alternative, independent expert, the court appointed the clerk of the Kinshasa-Gombe appeal court as the “approved expert.”

This court official began his “investigations” without informing Bujakera’s lawyers and after consulting with the prosecutor’s office, which constitutes yet another violation of the defence’s rights. Furthermore, this “expert” lacks the qualifications for the assigned tasks, as the prosecutor’s office has itself acknowledged.

In the light of all these facts and the many irregularities that have marked these shocking proceedings, the one and only next logical step must be Bujakera’s immediate and unconditional release.

Respect for media freedom and diversity and the rights of journalists are as essential as ever in the DRC, which continues to face many political, economic and security challenges in the wake of the elections held on 20 December.

During his campaign for reelection in November, President Félix Tshisekedi said he might “perhaps” pardon Bujakera after he had been convicted. As Tshisekedi prepares to begin his second term, we hope that he will bring Bujakera’s incarceration to an end now, without waiting for this sham trial to conclude.

Without justice, there is no dignity. And Without dignity, there is no freedom.

Free Stanis. Now.


- Francis Akindes, sociologist (Benin) 

- Moussa Aksar, publisher of L’Événement (Niger)

- Anas, investigative journalist (Ghana)

- Sinzo Anzaa, writer (DRC)

- Ferdinand Mensah Ayité, director of L’Alternative (Togo)

- Souleymane Bachir Diagne, philosopher (Senegal)

- Chaikou Baldé, president of the Media Alliance for Human Rights (Guinea)

- Carine Dikiefu Banona, assistant DRC researcher at Human Rights Watch (DRC)

- Fadel Barro, activist (Senegal)

- Amadou Barry Sadjo, philosopher (Guinea)

- Fred Bauma, executive director of the Ebuteli Institute (DRC)

- Kidi Bebey, author and journalist (Cameroon)

- Anthony Bellanger, general secretary of the Federation of Journalists (Belgium)

- Marwane Ben Yahmed, publisher of Jeune Afrique (France)

- Pierre Boisselet, researcher (France)

- Mino Bompomi, Filimbi national coordinator (DRC)

- Marthe Bosuandole, journalist and writer, deputy coordinator of the Association of International Media Correspondents in the DRC (DRC)

- Clément Boursin, Africa officer at ACAT France

- Rony Brauman, doctor, former head of Médecins sans Frontières (France)

- Reed Brody, human rights lawyer (United States)

- Elisabeth Caesens, director of the NGO Resource Matters (Belgium)

- Sonia Delesalle-Stolper, head of the international section at Libération (France)

- Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) (France)

- Rokhaya Diallo, journalist and producer (France)

- Mamadou Diouf, historian (Senegal)

- Delphine Djiraïbé, lawyer and human rights defender (Chad)

- Olivier Dubois, freelance journalist (France)

- Maud-Salomé Ekila, activist with Urgences Panafricanistes (DRC)

- Tiken Jah Fakoly, singer (Cote d’Ivoire)

- Mohamed Chérif Ferjani, political scientist (Tunisia)

- ⁠Thomas Fessy, lead DRC researcher at Human Rights Watch (France)

- Damon Galgut, novelist and playwright (South Africa)

- Seydi Gassama, head of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (Senegal)

- Gauz, writer (Côte d’Ivoire)

- Yves-Laurent Goma, journalist (Gabon)

- Mohamed Guèye, publisher of the newspaper Le Quotidien (Senegal)

- Anton Harber, director of the Henry Nxumalo Foundation and adjunct professor of journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand

- Ibrahim Harouna, president of the House of the Press, Niger

- Antoine Kaburahe, publisher of the news site Iwacu (Burundi)

- Jimmy Kande, director of the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF)

- Jean-Claude Katende, national president of the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights (ASADHO) and vice-president of FIDH (DRC)

- Trésor Kibangula, political analyst (DRC)

- Dismas Kitenge, president of the Lotus Group (DRC)

- Gérard Kwigwasa, executive secretary of Heirs of Justice (DRC)

 - Ariane Lavrilleux, journalist (France)

- Osvalde Lewat, writer (Cameroon)

- Patient Ligodi, journalist and journalism teacher (DRC)

- Jean-Jacques Lumumba, whistleblower (DRC)

- Valery Madianga, journalist, public finances researcher and coordinator of CREFDL (DRC)

- Andréa Magnim, journalist (Togo)

- Bheki Makhubu, editorial director of The Nation (Eswatini)

- Jolino Malukisa, professor at the Catholic University of the Congo (DRC)

- Mamane, humourist (Niger)

- Bienvenu Matumo, researcher in social geography and LUCHA activist (DRC)

- Achille Mbembe, philosopher (Cameroon)

- François Mboke, president of the Media Owners Network (Cameroon)

- Kabongo Mbuyi, executive secretary of the Press Freedom Observatory in Africa (OLPA)

- Quinn McKew, Article 19 executive director (United States)

- Zakes Mda, writer and poet (South Africa)

- Gyude Moore, Senior Policy Fellow at the Centre for Global Development and former public works minister (Liberia)

- Jacqueline Moudeina, lawyer (Chad)

- Jean-Claude Mputu, spokesperson of the Congo is Not For Sale platform, Anti-Corruption Champions Award 2023 (DRC)

- Pascal Mulegwa, journalist, RFI correspondent in Kinshasa (DRC)

- Israël Mutala, president of the Online Media association (DRC)

- Florimond Muteba Tshitenge, chair of the Public Spending Observatory (ODEP) (DRC)

- Haby Niakaté, editor in chief of Brut Afrique (France)

- Alice Nkom, lawyer (Cameroon)

- Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, lawyer, writer, professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Nigeria - United States)

- Marc Ona Essangui, executive secretary of the NGO Brainforest and third vice-president of the Transition Senate (Gabon)

- Edwy Plenel, director and co-founder of Mediapart (France)

- Anne Poiret, journalist and producer, winner of the Albert Londres Prize in 2007

- Ahmed Rajab, journalist, former editor the BBC’s Swahili service (Tanzania)

- Sonia Rolley, journalist and producer (France)

- Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

- Samira Sabou, journalist and blogger (Niger)

- Sandrine Sawadogo, investigative journalist (Burkina Faso)

- Denise Saye, general secretary of the National Press Professionals Syndicate and vice-president of the Central African Union of Syndicates of Press and Communication Professionals (DRC)

- Jean-Mobert Senga, lawyer, DRC researcher for Amnesty International (DRC)

- Leïla Slimani, writer (France)

- Jeffrey Smith, Vanguard Africa (United States)

- Journalists Association at Jeune Afrique (France)

- Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racisme (France)

- François Soudan, editorial director at Jeune Afrique (France)

- Béatrice Soulé, artistic director and producer (France)

- Wole Soyinka, writer, Nobel laureate (Nigeria)

- Jason Stearns, assistant professor, Simon Fraser University (United States)

- Véronique Tadjo, author (Cote d'Ivoire-France)

- Henri Thulliez, human rights lawyer, member of the Paris Bar, director of the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) (France)

- Alioune Tine, founder of the Afrikajom Centre (Senegal)

- Éric Topona, journalist (Chad)

- Mohamed Tozy, writer (Morocco) 

- Tshivis Tshivuadi, secretary-general of Journalist in Danger (JED) (DRC)

- Christophe Vogel, researcher and writer (Germany)

- Joshua Walker, researcher (United States)

- Listowell Yesu Bukarson, president of the Ghanian Press Foundation (Ghana)

- Martin Ziguélé, former prime minister (Central African Republic) 

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