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Four state television journalists detained for "trying to destabilise RTNC"

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the continuing detention of journalists Vincent Hata, Michel Shango and Eugène Risasi Tambwe of the public broadcaster RadioTélévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC), who were arrested for union activism on 26 and 27 July 2007.

Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, Journaliste en Danger (JED), said a fourth RTNC journalist, Makolo Tshilumbayi, was arrested at the same time as the other three and for the same reason. JED said the arrests came at the behest of RTNC General Manager Emmanuel Kipolongo, who accused the journalists of "preparing a meeting with a view to destroying the public TV station's installations."

The RTNC management and union representatives have been at loggerheads for several months.

"Illegal arrests are on the increase," RSF said. "The Congolese constitution recognises trade union freedom. It is a key element of labour rights and a corollary of free opinion. The RTNC chief's allegations against [the journalists] do not seem to have any serious basis. Furthermore, we fear that they could be mistreated. They should therefore be released at once."

A member of the police Directorate for General Intelligence and Special Services (DRGS) told JED that the four unionists were charged with "publicly insulting the president, trying to destabilise RTNC and discrediting the government by launching a strike."

After initially being held in a Republican Guard military camp, Tshilumbayi, Hata, Shango and Tambwe were transferred on 28 July to the detention centre at the DRGS headquarters known as "Kin Mazière".

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