Ten TV journalists arrested, material seized in Kinshasa raid
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joins its partner organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Journalist in Danger (JED), in condemning the heavy-handed police raid on the Kinshasa-based TV current affairs production company Kin Lartus on 25 July, in which the police arrested ten journalists, ransacked the premises and seized material.
JED’s press release follows:
Journalist in Danger (JED) condemns a raid by members of the Congolese national police on Kin Lartus, a company that produces a current affairs programme that is broadcast by several Kinshasa TV channels. In the course of the raid, the police ransacked and seized journalistic material and arrested ten journalists who were there at the time.
Various sources told JED that the group of police officers raided the premises of Kin Lartus at around 1 p.m. on 25 July as a result of a complaint by the producer of another TV current affairs programme called “Kilartus,” who accuses the company of “fraudulently” using its logo and name.
Immediately prior to the raid, two plainclothes police officers, one of them a woman, arrived at the premises of Kin Lartus and pretended to enquire about broadcast prices. While they were receiving an explanation, other armed police suddenly stormed into the offices, smashed equipment and seized material. The ten journalists present at the time were bundled into a vehicle that took them to police headquarters.
Six of them were released late in the evening, after Kin Lartus’ lawyer, Maki Makiese, intervened. The four other journalists – Jean Jacques Kabeya, Ritha Musau, Doya Mayi and Fretace Mbamanku – spent the night in police cells. Makiese told JED that the four journalists still being held are accused by Ms. Kilala, their former employer, of using “the emblems and names of her own current affairs programme.”
When reached by JED, Ms. Kilala said she had referred the case to the judicial authorities in order to demand her rights. “These are journalists who I recruited and who worked on my current affairs programme Kilartus,” she said. “We had a disagreement and I fired them. Instead of creating their own current affairs programme with their own name and logo, the they used my brand name and my logo. I have no particular problem with these journalists. I just want to protect my brand.”
Without entering into the substance of the case, JED condemns the raid and confiscation of broadcast material by police officers, which has reduced this media outlet to silence. JED regards this attack on a media outlet as a serious press freedom violation that must be stopped at once.