5 June 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Ifj Condemns Journalist's Suspension

press release

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned today the suspension of Désiré Kyakwima, journalist at DR Congo's National Radio TV (RTNC in French), in Bukavu, in the East, for having put an embarrassing question to a Government official.

"We call on authorities in Congo to immediately restore all rights of this victimized journalist. The RNTC's decision is a serious violation of the editorial independence of journalists of the public service," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ regional Africa Office.

According to the National Union of Media Professionals (SNPP in French), an IFJ affiliate, Desiré Kyakwima who attended in Kigali (Rwanda) a joint press conference held by Rwanda and DR Congo Ministers of Foreign Affairs, posed to Mrs. Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda Minister of Foreign Affairs a question about the possibility of a mediation by Rwanda in the tussle between DRC armed forces (FARDC) and the M23 armed group in the East of the country.

After the press conference Kyakwima received threats from a Government official who vowed to have him dismissed by RTNC. Back in the office in Bukavu, he received a two weeks' suspension letter without pay from the South Kivu Director of RTNC. Kyakwima is accused of having asked a question which "affected the climate of diplomatic relationships between Rwanda and DRC, and for having attributed to the Minister of Communication and Media remarks he has not made."

"This is a negation of Justice because the journalist has not been given the possibility to defend himself in accordance with the normal procedure. SNPP demands the restoration of the rights of the journalist," said Stanis Nkundiye, Secretary General of SNPP.

"Since the last elections in 2011, and despite the "Revolution of Modernity" publicly proclaimed by the Government on the eve of the conference of French speaking countries' international organization (OIF in French) in October 2012, DRC has increasingly become a lawless zone where fundamental rights of journalists and citizens are seriously violated with total impunity," Baglo added.

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