Congo: Journalists Detained in Mugunga

Regulation & Policy

Two journalists of the Daily Monitor have been detained in Mugunga, 15 kilometres south of Goma town in the DR Congo. Paul Harera Sebikali and Robert Isaur were arrested by the DR Congo army as they headed for Masisi, a territory held by rebel Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

They are accused of being "in contact with the dissident."

The journalists left the country at the beginning of October and headed for Congo to interview Nkunda, who is accused of fighting the Congo national army, (Forces armées de la RDC (FARDC).

According to Journaliste en danger (JED), a Congo-based local group, their representative met Harera and Isaur on October 9 at the intelligence agency of the 8th military district in eastern DR Congo, where they have been detained since October 3.

"At the time of their detention, they were suspected of "attempting to deliver weapons to the dissident general."

But according to Colonel Delphin Kayimbi, the assistant commander of the military district, the journalists were accused of wanting "to make contact with the enemy of the DRC and to hold interviews without authorisation of the national army in this war zone," JED reported in a statement.

The statement said the journalists were assigned by Daily Monitor to interview Nkunda and to verify the authenticity of a press release that the National Congress of the People (Congrès national du peuple, CNDP), a political-military movement led by Nkunda, had sent to the newspaper.

"They were carrying orders from their newspaper and had legitimately entered Goma. Based on the information obtained by JED, the journalists did not commit any offence, while seeking to verify the source of their information. It is thus aberrant to keep them in prolonged detention in a place that is completely outside the country's legal system. JED calls on the commander of the 8th military district to release the journalists," the statement said.

Unconfirmed reports state that the journalists were released on Tuesday and ordered to travel through Rwanda to avoid contact with Nkunda.

(New Vision (Kampala), 10 October 2007)