Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns yesterday’s attack in Brazzaville on three French journalists covering the presidential election, the first round of which was held 20 March. RSF urges the authorities to shed light on the incident and calls for the return of the professional material taken from the journalists.
Le Monde reporter Christophe Châtelot and two Agence France-Presse journalists were attacked by four men in civilian dress who claimed to be police officers. After hitting the journalists, the four assailants took their cameras, notebooks and passports.
All three journalists have press accreditation for the election. They had just covered a news conference by opposition candidate Jean-Michel Mokoko, who is disputing the preliminary results. According to these results, President Denis Sassou Nguesso won outright in the first round.
“This attack is a grave violation of freedom of information, one that shows how difficult it is to cover presidential elections in the Republic of Congo,” RSF said. “We urge the authorities to quickly shed all possible light on the attack, so that it does not go unpunished, and to ensure that the journalists recover their material.”
The extremely tense climate during the first round of the election limited freedom of expression. RSF already condemned the telecommunications blackout imposed by the government during the first round.
The Republic of Congo is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index.