The incident occurred when Bruno Makilo, a journalist with Radio Maigaro, one of the city’s two radio stations, asked a group of men not to make a noise during the national anthem, triggering an altercation.
The police officer responsible for the event’s security reacted by firing two shots in the air and then shot Makilo in the leg, witnesses told RSF, which has also seen the medical certificate confirming his gunshot injury. The police officer was arrested but has not been charged, Makilo’s lawyer told RSF.
When RSF reached Ange Maxime Kazagui, the government’s spokesman and minister of communication and media, he simply said he was “keeping abreast” of the situation.
“Opening fire on a journalist who is covering an event is a serious crime that cannot go unpunished,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We urge the authorities to ensure that this police officer is duly sanctioned and put on trial for what he did. Crimes of violence against journalists go unpunished only too often in the CAR, but this time the authorities have no excuse for not taking appropriate disciplinary and judicial measures.”
The Central African Community Media Network (RMCC) issued a statement condemning this "disgraceful and horrific action by someone who is supposed to protect the population.” Several journalists’ associations including the RMCC have also registered as interested parties in the case.
Journalism is dangerous in the CAR. Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko – three Russian journalists who went to the CAR to make a documentary about the activities of Russian mercenaries – were murdered in July 2018. RSF continues to call for an independent international enquiry into this triple murder because of the many unanswered questions.
RSF is also calling on the CAR and French authorities and the United Nations mission in the CAR to do everything possible to carry out an on-site investigation into French photojournalist Camille Lepage’s death near Bouar in 2014, including a reenactment of how she was shot.
The CAR is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 33 places.