Rozenn Kalafulo, the editor of Pole FM, an independent community radio station in Goma, the capital of the eastern province of Nord-Kivu, has been in hiding for the past several days after witnesses told her they overheard army generals threaten her because of a question she put to the president. At a press conference on 8 October during a visit by President Tshisekedi to Goma, Kalafulo asked him about the business activities of certain high-ranking members of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and about their potential links with armed groups.
“The Nord-Kivu provincial authorities must not minimize the gravity of this threat to a journalist who just raised a public interest issue,” JED secretary-general Tshivis Tshivuadi said. “A thorough investigation must be carried out at once to identify and punish the group of generals plotting against this journalist. All competent authorities must take appropriate measures for her physical protection because she has been openly threatened in a part of the country prey to armed violence for years.”
Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk, added: “These threats are indicative of the difficulties that Congolese journalists still face in their daily work. Despite the president-elect’s encouraging comments nearly two years ago, no major reform has been carried out to improve the working environment for journalists. RSF and JED call for the urgent creation of an alert mechanism for securing and protecting journalists.”
Journalists continue to be subjected to a high rate of abuses in the DRC. According to JED, at least 12 have been threatened and intimidated since the start of the year. Local officials and members of the security forces are often responsible for these press freedom violations. In September, RSF reported a wave of harassment of journalists in Sankuru province, where Radio Losanganya director François Lendo was detained arbitrarily for 11 days as a result of a complaint by the province’s governor.
The DRC is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.