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Wave of detentions in West Kasai province

(JED/IFEX) - Kinshasa, 6 April 2012 - Journaliste en danger (JED) is concerned by the recent wave of harassment of journalists by National Intelligence Agency (Agence Nationale des Renseignements, ANR) officials in Tshimbulu, a town located 120 km from Kananga, the main city in West Kasai province (central DRC).

JED has learned that Radio Moyo FM journalist André Kabasele was detained at the local ANR bureau on 2 April 2012. He was accused of "insulting local authorities" during the 30 March broadcast of his radio programme. He had called on local authorities to re-establish the peace in a Tshimbulu neighbourhood. After being interrogated at length about his programme, Kabasele was formally arrested. His release was conditioned on payment of a 7,500 Congolese franc fine (approx. US$8). The journalist was forced to surrender his identity card as he could not pay the fine.

On 30 March, journalists Emery Mamba, Elie Tshamwa, Jean-Pierre Kayumba, Belas Belangamayi and Jean Ntumba were summoned and questioned by local ANR officials. All five journalists, who work for Radio Bungana, a Tshimbulu-based station, were accused of libeling primary school personnel in the town. Mamba and Tshamwa had criticised school officials during a 21 March broadcast of the programme they host on the station.

Ali Tshitoko, a journalist with Radio Moyo FM, was summoned on 6 April and accused of broadcasting false information. This came in response to an April Fool's Day message he had aired on 1 April.

JED condemns the climate of terror imposed by the ANR, which is abusing its power and harassing local media. The organisation urges national authorities to put an end to acts of intimidation against journlaists in West Kasai province.

Please note this is an abridged translation.

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