Military personnel attacking journalists with impunity in DRC

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 28 June 2021.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to quickly identify and punish the soldiers who broke into a journalist’s home this week in one of the two northeastern provinces where a state of siege in effect for the past six weeks is making journalism extremely difficult.

Freelance reporter Daniel Michombero told RSF that he was woken from his sleep on the night of 22 June by seven masked men in the uniforms of members of the DRC’s armed forces, who used a hammer to smash a window and break into his home in Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province.

Armed with knives and gun, they threatened him, manhandled his wife and ransacked his home, taking all of his journalistic equipment, including a computer, a camera and several phones. He said he reported the break-in to the authorities although he was unable to identify any of the intruders.

Michombero often works for Africa NewsVOA and TV5 Monde and recently provided several reports about the latest eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano near Goma, which forced hundreds of thousands for people to evacuate the area and triggered a series of humanitarian and political crises in the province.

Michombero’s reporting questioned the way these events were handled by the provincial government, which has been run by the military since the state of siege was declared on 9 May.

This is the second time in a month that soldiers have attacked a journalist in the provinces they are governing under the state of siege,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “If President Tshisekedi is sincere about wanting to deal with the ‘mafia’ and ‘law of silence’ that are undermining the DRC’s armed forces, it is vital that soldiers should no longer be able to deliberately attack journalists with complete impunity.”

Journalists have been the targets of abuses by soldiers since the start of the state of siege in Nord-Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province. Community radio station director Parfait Katoto was threatened by a man in military uniform in Ituri province four weeks ago because he broadcast a report about soldiers robbing civilians.

Earlier in May, Goma-based commander Gen. Aba Van Ang asked his soldiers to find journalist Paluku Riky in order to “flog” him and “punish” him for saying in a Facebook post that soldiers had fired on a civilian in Nord-Kivu.

The DRC is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

The post Military personnel attacking journalists with impunity in DRC appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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