Freelance reporter Daniel Michombero told RSF that he was woken from his sleep on the night of 22 June by seven masked men in the uniforms of members of the DRC’s armed forces, who used a hammer to smash a window and break into his home in Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province.
Armed with knives and gun, they threatened him, manhandled his wife and ransacked his home, taking all of his journalistic equipment including a computer, a camera and several phones. He said he reported the break-in to the authorities although he was unable to identify any of the intruders.
Michombero often works for Africa News, VOA and TV5 Monde and recently provided several reports about the latest eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano near Goma, which forced hundreds of thousands for people to evacuate the area and triggered a series of humanitarian and political crises in the province.
“This is the second time in a month that soldiers have attacked a journalist in the provinces they are governing under the state of siege,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “If President Tshisekedi is sincere about wanting to deal with the ‘mafia’ and ‘law of silence’ that are undermining the DRC’s armed forces, it is vital that soldiers should no longer be able to deliberately attack journalists with complete impunity.”
Journalists have been the targets of abuses by soldiers since the start of the state of siege in Nord-Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province. Community radio station director Parfait Katoto was threatened by a man in military uniform in Ituri province four weeks ago because he broadcast a report about soldiers robbing civilians.
Earlier in May, Goma-based commander Gen. Aba Van Ang asked his soldiers to find journalist Paluku Riky in order to “flog” him and “punish” him for saying in a Facebook post that soldiers had fired on a civilian in Nord-Kivu.
The DRC is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.