Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns an army officer’s death threats against a journalist in Kasindi, a town near the Ugandan border in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu, and calls on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s authorities to assume their responsibility to protect journalists.
Maghaniryo L’Katé, the director of Kasindi-based Radio Télévision Graben, was threatened after reporting alleged customs fraud at the nearby border involving a DRC regular army unit headed by Captain Fredy Kangela.
Maghaniryo L’Katé was threatened by telephone on 21 March. And he was threatened again the next day when he responded to a summons to go to the captain’s office, although he took the precaution of bringing witnesses with him.
An officer in the captain’s office threatened him with reprisals if he broadcast any further information about the military. “I will kill you like they did with Norbert Zongo,” he said, in the presence of about ten people.
He was referring to a journalist who was killed in Burkina Faso in 1998 while investigating the death of the driver of François Compaoré, the then president’s brother.
“This kind of abuse of authority by military personnel is totally unacceptable,” RSF said. “We remind the Congolese authorities that they are responsible for protecting journalists. We call for a thorough investigation into this case, which constitutes a grave violation of freedom of information.”
Freedom of information has declined of late in the DRC, as evidenced by the closure of three broadcast media outlets in Lubumbashi since the start of the year and the news blackout imposed on radio stations in Nord-Kivu’s Rutshuru Territory two weeks ago. A journalists arrested in Nord-Kivu on 5 March is still being held and has yet to be taken before a judge.
The DRC is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index.