RSF and CPJ decry Congolese journalist’s arbitrary detention for past three weeks
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) call on the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to release Joseph Kazadi, a Congolese freelance journalist who has been denied access to his lawyer ever since his arrest three weeks ago.
Update: Joseph Kazadi was unconditionally released on 3 August after three weeks in detention. Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn of the release of the journalist whom it has supported throughout his detention.
Arrested in the southeast of the country on 13 July, Kazadi is now being held at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) in the capital, Kinshasa. CPJ and RSF regard his detention as completely unjustified and call for his immediate and unconditional release.
“Joseph Kazadi is being detained without being notified of the charges against him,” said Sadibou Marong, the director of RSF’s West Africa bureau. “His prolonged detention is completely unjustified and little is known about the conditions in which he is being held. News and information gathering cannot constitute an offence, and it is intolerable to see the Congolese authorities preventing a journalist from doing his job.”
An experienced and multifaceted journalist, Kazadi runs the newspaper Leader, reports for the magazine Mining News, and is a correspondent of Journalist in Danger (JED), RSF’s partner in the DRC. Recognised by his peers as an expert on mining in the southeastern Katanga region, he has worked on stories for such international media outlets as CNN, ABC and The New Yorker.
Kazadi was working with Nicholas Niarchos – a US journalist who reports for The Nation and The New Yorker – on the links between artisanal mining in the southeast of the country and those who profit from the mining when they were arrested by the ANR in Lubumbashi, the capital of the southeastern province of Haut-Katanga, on 13 July.
Niarchos was released five days later without any charge being brought against him but Kazadi is still being held although no concrete evidence has been produced to justify holding him for so long. CPJ and RSF denounce this double standard.
“DRC authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Joseph Kazadi, who has been detained incommunicado for weeks in violation of his due process rights,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa Programme Coordinator. “The ongoing detentions of Joseph Kazadi, as well as at least two other journalists – Patrick Lola and Christian Bofaya – detained in Équateur province since January 2022, are alarming indications of the Congolese authorities’ disregard for press freedom.”
RSF and CPJ have repeatedly tried to reach Patrick Kitenge, the head of media relations at the ANR, to ask him about this case, but he has not responded to their calls. Godefroid Kabango, the lawyer engaged by RSF to represent Kazadi, has been systematically denied access to his client on the pretext that the ANR’s general administrator was not available to respond to his request.
The refusal to provide information about the conditions in which Kazadi is being held and about the charges against him are indicative of the impunity with which the DRC’s intelligence agencies mistreat detained journalists. RSF already sounded the alarm in May about cases of journalists being tortured in ANR cells. Two journalists, Patrick Lola and Christian Bofaya, have meanwhile been held in the main prison in Mbandaka, the capital of Équateur province, since their arrest on 10 January.