Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Soldiers Threaten to Kill Journalist Parfait Katoto Over Broadcasts

Kinshasa — Congolese authorities should take swift and comprehensive actions to investigate all threats against journalist and Radio Communautaire Amkeni Biakato (RCAB) director Parfait Katoto, ensure his safety, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On May 3, 2024, three armed soldiers with the DRC military arrived at Katoto's home, in the Mambasa territory of the DRC's northeast Ituri province, and told his family that they would kill the journalist for his criticism of insecurity in the territory's Babila Babombi locality, according to a member of the journalist's family--who was present at the time, and spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal--as well as a report on the Bunia Actualité news site. Unable to locate Katoto, the soldiers warned his family members that they would take revenge on the journalist for his comments.

Katoto told CPJ that he had already gone into hiding for fear of reprisals on May 3, the first day the armed men visited his home.

The next day, on May 4, another armed soldier arrived at Katoto's home and threatened the journalist's family for not disclosing his whereabouts, according to the family member and a report by the Network of Investigative Journalists in the DRC (REJI-RDC). In the evening of May 12, the family member said another soldier arrived at Katoto's home and warned that the journalist would be inevitably found and killed.

"The repeated death threats against journalist Parfait Katoto by members of the DRC military are alarming, and those responsible should be investigated and held to account," said Angela Quintal, Head of CPJ's Africa Program, from Accra, Ghana. "The DRC's military should be focused on ensuring the safety of the press, not threatening to kill journalists who broadcast critical voices."

The privately owned RCAB broadcasts a weekly program called "CDRH speaks to you," during which local human rights activists discuss local security issues, according to Katoto. During an April 24 broadcast, activists denounced the army and police for allegedly contributing to insecurity in the Babila Babombi locality by harassing the local population. Rebel armed groups also operate in the area.

Katoto told CPJ that he informed the local commander of the Congolese national police, known only as "Bukasa," and local military colonel Jules Muke of the soldiers' appearances at his home and their threats, but neither have followed up or offered any assistance.

Katoto told CPJ that he was verbally threatened with death at least four times in March 2024 during run-ins with Muke, who told Katoto that he did not appreciate the comments made by human rights activists on RCAB.

On May 29, 2021, an armed man entered Katoto's home through an open door and forced him to lie on the ground and empty his pockets. He also threatened to kill him, according to CPJ report.

CPJ's calls to Muke went unanswered, and Bukasa's phone was switched off.

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