Reporters Without Borders’ partner organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Journaliste en Danger (JED), yesterday issued a statement condemning the judicial harassment of Mike Mukebayi Nkoso, publisher the bi-weekly Congo News. Reporters Without Borders joins JED in condemning the violation of the rights of the journalist, who has been illegally held in prison for almost a month. The Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked 151st in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
“Journaliste en Danger is shocked at the judicial harassment of the journalist Mike Mukebayi Nkoso, the publisher of Congo News, published in the DRC capital Kinshasa. He has been detained for almost a month in the Kinshasa Penitentiary and Re-education Centre (CPRK), formerly Makala prison.
“According to information received by JED, a magistrate’s court in Kinshasa/Gombe, sitting in camera, yesterday rejected a request made for the third time by the journalist’s counsel for their client’s release on bail. That means Mukebayi’s case will be considered by the Kinshasa/ Gombe magistrate’s court at a public hearing scheduled for 19 September.
“JED considers the journalist’s prolonged detention to be in flagrant violation of Article 28 of the media law, which sets out the procedure to be followed before a journalist is arrested, and is indicative of a deliberate desire to satisfy those pulling the strings behind the scenes.
“JED condemns this shameful persecution, which undermines the credibility of the Congolese judicial system and damages freedom of the press, as guaranteed in the Congolese constitution.
“Mukebayi was arrested at his home about 6 a.m. on 21 August by a group of police officers in plain clothes. He was held for four hours in the offices of the Kinshasa/Gombe public prosecutor then transferred to the CPRK, where he is still detained. He officially faces charges of “detrimental allegations” after publishing an article on 18 July under the headline: ‘Monsengwo: shame and dishonour of a cardinal who has sold out to the government’.
The journalist appeared before the court in camera for the first time on 1 September. After rejecting his counsel’s request for bail, the court ordered him to be held for 15 days’ pre-trial detention at the CPRK.”