Reporters Without Borders today releases an investigation report into murders of journalists in Bukavu, the capital of Sud-Kivu at the easternmost extreme of the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost four months after the latest killing, that of Didace Namujimbo.
The worldwide press freedom organisation's report identifies failings in the Congolese judicial system involving botched investigations, the trampling on defence rights and grotesque trials that have guaranteed impunity to criminals.
The report also shows that in ten years of war Bukavu has become a Great Lakes slum, in which weapons circulate freely and traffickers do as they please, and where nobody, except local potentates, can feel safe. At greater risk are journalists, who because of their investigations of sensitive issues or their personal success that can be seen as “impudent,” attract jealousies and hatred.
Journalist Didace Namujimbo, of local Radio Okapi, was shot dead at point blank range just yards from his home on 21 November 2008. Seventeen months earlier, his colleague Serge Maheshe, the radio's news editor, was murdered in the street, shot several times in the chest. Before that, overnight on 31 July to 1st August 2005, Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi, executive secretary of the Inheritors of Justice and vice-president of the Great Lakes Human Rights League (LDGL), was shot dead by armed men who burst into his home.
During its investigation in Kinshasa, Goma and Bukavu, from 16 to 24 December 2008, the Reporters Without Borders' delegation met leaders of the UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monuc), the civil and military authorities of Sud-Kivu, staff of Radio Okapi in Bukavu, local journalists and several lawyers, including one engaged by the Namujimbo family.
In its conclusions, Reporters Without Borders calls on the government of the DRC to finally take note of the failures in the Kabungulu and Maheshe cases and the concerns surrounding the investigation into the killing of Didace Namujimbo. The organisation also calls on the Congolese Army to stop taking control of investigations and urges the authorities in Kinshasa to set up a special judicial commission to shed light on the murders of journalists and human rights activists in Bukavu.