April 4, 2018

DRC: TV presenter held in DRC for defaming provincial governor

Le journaliste Eliezer Ntambwe comparaît au Parquet général de Kinshasa pour "diffammation". © Peter Tiany
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joins Journalist in Danger (JED) in condemning TV current affairs presenter Eliezer Ntambwe’s arbitrary arrest on 2 April in response to a defamation suit by the governor of Kasaï-Oriental province. RSF and JED call for Ntambwe’s immediate release pending his appearance in court.

This is JED’s press release about the arrest:

Eliezer Ntambwe, the host of “Tokomi Wapi,” a current affairs programme broadcast by several TV channels in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, has been detained since 2 April at the Kinshasa prosecutor-general’s office for allegedly defaming the governor of Kasaï-Oriental province, Alphonse Ngoyi Kasanji.

According to the information obtained and cross-checked by JED, Ntambwe was arrested in his office by two officials from the prosecutor’s office who had a warrant, and was taken directly to the prosecutor’s office, where he was questioned at length by an investigating judge about one of his reports.

This report concerned a 45-carat diamond belonging to a man from Sankuru province who mysteriously died on his return to the province. According to the man’s family, who were interviewed by Ntambwe, Governor Kasanji “extorted” the diamond from him.

The governor has also referred his complaint to the High Council for Broadcasting and Communication (CSAC), which is expected to question Ntambwe.

Without entering into the substance of the governor’s complaint, JED takes the view that Ntambwe’s detention is unjustified and hasty, and violates his right to be presumed innocent. JED therefore calls on the investigating judge to order his release pending his appearance in court. JED points out that Governor Kasanji is on the list of press freedom enemies that it published together with its 2017 annual report.

The DRC is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.