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SECOND UN JOURNALIST KILLED IN BUKAVU

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo should thoroughly and transparently investigate the killing of a journalist from a UN-backed radio station in Bukavu, eastern DRC, the second journalist killed from the station in 17 months, say Journalist in Danger (JED) and other IFEX members.

Didace Namujimbo, a reporter for Radio Okapi, was a few metres away from his home on 21 November when he was hit by a single bullet to the head.

Namujimbo's body was found the next morning. His mobile phone was missing but his money and other personal items had not been taken, suggesting that the motive was not robbery, his brother Déo Namujimbo, a journalist and the local vice-president of the Congolese National Press Union, told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Radio Okapi, jointly run by the Swiss foundation Hirondelle and the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), was set up to support the peace process following Congo's 1998-2003 war. It plays a central role in combating violence and arbitrary practices, particularly in eastern Congo, because of its independence and high quality of its programming.

Namujimbo is the second Radio Okapi journalist murdered in Bukavu in just over a year, after the station's news editor, Serge Maheshe, was killed in June 2007 in similar circumstances. In May, a Bukavu military tribunal sentenced three civilians to death for that murder, but JED says it was "dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial since it did not establish what really happened on the deadly night of 13 June ... The verdict is the outcome of a botched trial based on a superficial investigation."

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Namujimbo, who was a Radio Okapi reporter since February 2006, had done a lot of reporting on the Maheshe murder trial.

JED and others say Maheshe's trial paved the way for Namujimbo's murder. "The cycle of violence that continues to target journalists is fuelled by a culture of impunity, which guarantees indemnity to the real killers and contractors via sham trials," says JED.

JED is calling for the creation of a joint committee of investigation into Namujimbo's murder, comprising both the Congolese judicial authorities and MONUC.

In a separate development, Human Rights Watch has just release a report that documents government violence and intimidation to eliminate political opponents.

"While everyone focuses on the violence in eastern Congo, government abuses against political opponents attract little attention," said Human Rights Watch. "Efforts to build a democratic Congo are being stifled not just by rebellion but also by the Kabila government's repression."

Read the 96-page report, "'We Will Crush You': The Restriction of Political Space in the Democratic Republic of Congo," here: http://tinyurl.com/6jxyej

Also visit these links:
- JED: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98781/
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29388
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/68l9ql
- International Federation of Journalists: http://tinyurl.com/5c5ze5
(26 November 2008)

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