Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its Congolese partner, Journalist in Danger (JED), condemn last weekend's arbitrary closure of an opposition TV channel in Kinshasa, the first closure of this kind under President Félix Tshisekedi, and urge the new president to refrain from using his predecessor's censorship methods.
The signal of Radio Télévision par Satellite (RTVS1) was disconnected during the day on 29 June as it was broadcasting a programme in which guests were calling for participation in a demonstration banned by the authorities. The channel is owned by Adolphe Muzito, one of the leaders of the opposition to Tshisekedi.
"This outright act of censorship is a complete contradiction of the new president's promises to respect press freedom," said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF's Africa desk. "Abuses against Congolese journalists and media outlets are down since the start of the year. We urge the new administration not to return to the past by using the censorship methods employed under Joseph Kabila's regime."
During his inaugural address on 24 January, President Tshisekedi said he wanted to turn the media into a "real fourth estate" and on World Press Freedom Day (3 May), he pledged to turn the media into "one of the key motors of the rule of law."
In a joint letter to Tshisekedi in early May, RSF and JED recommended five concrete measures that he should take to keep these promises. They included an end to arrests of journalists and to arbitrary closures of media outlets, and an overhaul of repressive legislation that criminalizes journalism in the DRC.
Ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index, the DRC is the sub-Saharan country where RSF registered the most cases of press freedom obstruction in 2018.
Read attached the press release of Journalist in Danger, RSF's partner organization :