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Irregularities and delaying tactics surround establishment of broadcasting council

(JED/IFEX) - On 31 December 2009, the president of the DR Congo promulgated a law on the composition, powers, organisation and functioning of the broadcasting and communication council (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel et de la communication, CSAC), after its adoption by the two houses of Parliament. The text of this law was made public on 2 January 2010 on the set of National Radio-Television by an advisor to the president who read it article by article.

It is hardly necessary to note the importance of this law, to which media professionals have been associated both during its development phase and its adoption in Parliament, especially the role it gives the broadcasting and communication council in regulating the media and as a citizens' institution supporting democracy, particularly in view of the upcoming 2011 elections.

In order for the council to effectively play the role expected of it, it must be a neutral and independent body. JED is pleased by the fact that the law confers on the council the neutrality, impartiality and authority needed to ensure its role as a regulator of the Congolese media.

The biggest challenge remains setting up the council and designating its members with transparency and respect for the relevant legal provisions, while recognising that the council's effectiveness and success will depend largely on the people called to lead it.

JED would like to express its serious concerns regarding the vagueness and all the delaying tactics bordering on cheating surrounding the process of establishing the council and selecting its members.

More than a month after the promulgation of the law, no one has seen the law even though it is in the public domain. JED continues in vain to move heaven and earth to get a copy of the law. There is no trace of the law at the president's office, nor on the president's website, nor at the office of the official Gazette.

JED states that nothing can justify all the mystifying manoeuvres and the withholding of the law which constitute violations of the public's right to information.

JED urges the authority responsible for implementing this law to immediately engage in consultation with the various institutions and associations concerned so that each may designate its representatives on the council in full transparency and taking into account criteria of expertise and national representation. Until now, this has not been done as the text of the law seems to have been deliberately hidden to facilitate all manner of intrigue.

For this reason, JED calls for vigilance by all media professionals and institutions concerned by the composition and setting up of the council, and denounces all manoeuvres that tend to facilitate cheating in the selection of council members.

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