Congo: Journalist Detained and Her Camera Seized While Covering Ceremonies Marking Anniversary of National Independence

Regulation & Policy

RSF has protested the attacks on journalists by the Congolese security services during ceremonies on 30 June 2007 marking the 47th anniversary of the country's independence.

"This type of incident is repeating itself too often in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At a time when some of their officers have abused their power or used violence, the security forces should no longer benefit from the benevolence of the authorities. The Congolese army should no longer be able to behave with impunity like a state within the state," the organisation said.

Esther Wakilongo, a journalist with privately-owned Vision Shala Television (VSTV), was detained by Lieutenant-Colonel Anicet Muhimuzi, head of intelligence for the national police, while she was covering the parade organised for the anniversary of the country's independence in Bukavu (the largest city in South Kivu province, in the country's east). Although she presented her press card, the lieutenant-colonel seized her camera on the grounds that she did not possess "the badge granting authorisation to take pictures."

Despite the protests of the journalist, who was unaware of the existence of such a badge, Anicet Muhimuzi took the camera away with him. He added that she could recover it two days later at the police station. Since then, her equipment has still not been returned to her. The security services in Bukavu had in fact, on the occasion of the parade, produced badges that they distributed to journalists of their choice. All those who had been refused a badge found themselves forbidden from taking pictures or conducting interviews.

Meanwhile, RSF's partner organisation, Journaliste en danger (JED), reported that on the same day Ernest Mukuli, a reporter with the privately-owned broadcaster Radio Télévision Amani (RTA) in Kisangani, was beaten by members of the presidential guard (see IFEX alert of 3 July 2007).

(Reporters sans Frontières (Paris), 6 July 2007)