29 June 2011

Congo-Kinshasa: Journalist Gunned Down Amid Rising Attacks On Press

Photo: Alice Bafiala/RNW
The Kinshasa protest.

press release

A journalist who had recently reported about the arrest of locals accused of trafficking weapons for criminal activity was found shot to death last week in the eastern town of Kirumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo, report Journaliste en danger (JED) and other IFEX members.

Kambale Musonia, the host of a daily programme on Radio Communautaire de Lubero Sud, was shot to death a few metres from his home on 21 June. Witnesses who heard gunshots reported that the gunmen appeared to have been waiting for Musonia as he walked home from his office at Congo Chine Télécoms, where he also worked as a local communications officer, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

According to JED, four days prior to his death, Musonia hosted a live broadcast entitled "Kirumba Rise Up" in which a local civil society leader and callers blamed violent crime in the town on local gangs operating with the complicity of the police.

Musonia is the sixth journalist gunned down in the past four years in North and South Kivu alone, says JED. Local authorities in the restive eastern D.R.C. have consistently failed to investigate and prosecute journalists' murders, says CPJ.

Musonia's death comes amid a series of attacks on the press and in the run up to presidential elections in November.

Baby Balukuna, a journalist and programme host at the privately-owned Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), was attacked with sticks and machetes by an unidentified group of men at the station on 19 June.

According to JED, Balukuna had just signed off from his programme, "Support Etienne Tshisekedi", a daily segment in support of opposition candidate Tshisekedi's campaign for office.

Four days earlier, Radio Télévision Lubumbashi JUA, a private network owned by Jean-Claude Muyambo, was raided and partly set ablaze by supporters of the provincial governor Moïse Katumbi, reports JED. Muyambo, a former minister and member of the political movement affiliated with the President, had apparently criticised the management of the province in an interview with Belgian journalists that was broadcast on local channels.

"Violence against the media has been a constant in this country for years," said Reporters Without Borders (RSF)."With just months to go to a presidential election that will inevitably exacerbate tensions, the authorities have more grounds than usual for immediately deploying whatever resources are needed to guarantee the safety of media personnel and defuse the tension."

Both JED and RSF are calling for concrete measures to protect journalists and combat impunity.

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