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Arrests and threats escalate

Thirty-one IFEX members have written to Congolese President Joseph Kabila, calling on him to end the persecution and harassment of journalists. In recent months, there have been "deliberate attacks on journalists and media... that could foreshadow even greater repression in the run-up to next year's elections if preventive measures are not adopted," says the joint action initiated by Journaliste en danger (JED) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The letter to President Kabila describes the shrinking space for free expression in the country. In one incident, Pascal Mulunda, editor of the privately owned weekly "Le Monitor", was jailed for 24 days. He was arrested on 27 July after a libel action was brought against him by the coordinator of a mining company after Mulunda published an article accusing the coordinator of corruption. In another case, Jullson Eninga, editor of the daily "Le Journal", recently spent five months in detention.

Media outlets have been attacked as well. The transmission signals for three opposition television and radio stations were cut on 26 July. The stations were able to resume broadcasting three days later. On 28 July, soldiers stormed a radio station based in the eastern province of North Kivu looking for the presenter.

IFEX members have urged the government to declare a moratorium on imprisoning journalists on charges of defamation or insulting the authorities. The joint action is also asking for the state to create the proposed Higher Council for Broadcasting and Communication (CSAC). "By having sole responsibility for regulating the media and empowered to ensure equitable access for all state-owned media, the Council would be able to combat abuses by media, including excessive politicisation during the coming election year."

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