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Radio station shuttered, four journalists in custody

(JED/IFEX) – Kinshasa, 14 December 2011 – JED is calling on the deputy prime minister and minister of the interior to immediately intervene to stop the arbitrary justice that has come to reign in Kabambare territory, Maniema province, eastern DRC, after a community radio station was shuttered and four of its journalists detained on the orders of the territorial administrator.

According to JED sources, Shabani bin Shabani, Augustin Mateso, Moïse Mateso and Senghor Fundi, all journalists with Radio Communautaire Tujenge Kabambare (RCTK), were arrested by security agents and placed in police custody on 14 December at around 7:00 a.m. local time. The journalists are accused of resuming operations at the station without the authorisation of Kabambare administrator Ernest Isaac Miyambo, after it was shuttered on 18 November.

The journalists were arrested at their homes two days after the station resumed broadcasts.

In a telephone conversation, Miyambo told JED that he had not authorised the resumption of operations at RCTK and that the station's case was still under review. "When we heard the station had resumed broadcasting, we summoned one of the journalists for questioning. He ignored the summons. This station must accept certain conditions before it will be allowed to broadcast again. The journalists who host its shows are not trained journalists and are often bent on stirring up trouble in Kabambare. We don't know who is who at the station; there is no organisational structure," he said.

Miyambo ordered RCTK shuttered on 18 November after it broadcast an interview with a local militia leader who threatened to sabotage the elections if the group's demands were not met.

JED strongly condemns the actions of the territorial administrator as a flagrant violation of free expression. JED further denounces the process that led to the shuttering of the RCTK as a breach of procedure, according to the High Council for Broadcasting and Communications (CSAC) protocol, and calls for an immediate lifting of the suspension.

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