TV reporter attacked in DRC during street interviews about Covid restrictions
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joins its partner organisation Journalist in Danger (JED) in the Democratic Republic of Congo in condemning an attack by ruling party activists on a TV journalist who was doing street interviews about the latest measures to combat the pandemic. This violence must be investigated and those responsible punished, RSF says.
Dosta Lutula, the presenter of a programme on privately-owned Canal Kin Télévision in the capital, Kinshasa, ended up with blood streaming down his face on 23 June when he tried to interview members of the public about a government decision to restrict the number of people who can travel in a taxi or bus in Kinshasa.
Supporters of the ruling Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) accused him of “insulting the president,” attacked him, inflicting a bloody injury to his head, and then took him to a local sub-police station, where he was held overnight.
When reached by RSF, Lutula said he was “shocked by the situation” and that it was “hard to cover stories related to Covid-19 in this country because no one can contradict the president if he supports a measure connected with the pandemic.” He plans to file a complaint.
“The assault on this journalist is unacceptable and reflects the violence to which Congolese media professionals are often exposed, especially during a pandemic,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We call on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this attack in order to identify and punish those responsible, and we urge political party leaders to make their supporters understand that they must stop attacking journalists.”
Journalism continues to be dangerous in the DRC. RSF has logged 24 press freedom violations since the start of the year, including attacks on journalists and arrests. On the same day that Lutula was attacked, seven masked men in the uniforms of the DRC’s armed forces forced their way into freelance reporter Daniel Michombero’s home in the eastern city of Goma, threatened to kill him, manhandled his wife and took away his equipment.
The DRC is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.