Reporter jailed in DRC for allegedly defaming parliamentarian

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of a community radio journalist in Equateur province, in the northwest of Democratic Republic of Congo, who was arrested on 22 February for allegedly defaming a provincial parliamentary representative.

Based in the town of Bikoro, where he works for the popular community radio station Radio Liberté Bikoro, Christophe Yoka Nkumu was transferred yesterday to a prison in the provincial capital, Mbandaka.

Nkumu was arrested after reporting that Bikoro parliamentary representative Djimy Nkumu was making personal use of a car allocated to the public health authorities for combatting Ebola. When reached by RSF, he said his report did not name the representative and just focussed on what had happened to the vehicle. 

This journalist, who is just accused of defamation, should not be in prison,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We call for his immediate and unconditional release. It is time for Congolese politicians to stop taking justice into their own hands by systematically jailing journalists who criticize them. Only significant concrete measures such as a moratorium on arrests of journalists and an overhaul of repressive media legislation will end these repeated abuses.

RSF tried without success to reach the provincial governor and the parliamentary representative who brought the complaint against Nkumu.

Journalism continues to be a dangerous profession in the DRC. In Mongala province, Equateur’s immediate neighbour, Radio Liberté Lisala director Erick Ngunde was arrested on 13 February after hosting a programme about political tension in the province. Although now released, he has been suspended from working as a journalist. In the eastern city of Goma, Radio UB-FM reporter Nanou Kazaku sustained a gunshot injury while covering a demonstration on 17 February.

The DRC is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Publié le 24.02.2021
Mise à jour le 24.02.2021