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DRC media silenced by measure restricting political quotes in coverage

Journaliste en danger (JED) utterly disapproves of the illegal and arbitrary measure taken by Kolwezi's urban head of Communications and Media Services. The measure prohibits media outlets working in the urban-rural district of Kolwezi, Katanga Province (southeast DRC) to broadcast political or administrative statements made by traditional leaders without the explicit authorization of political or administrative authorities.

According to a letter sent on 27 May 2014 to media outlet managers in Kolwezi, Mr. Mulapu-A-Tshikomb requested that from now on, media outlets “refrain from initiating or sharing declarations of a political or administrative nature from traditional leaders, including information about mining companies, international organisations and NGOS working in their administrative subdivisions, without the area administrator's stamp or signature of approval.”

Contacted by JED, the manager of a broadcaster that airs in Kolwezi commented on this repressive measure. “The head of urban Communications and Media made this decision after a media outlet aired an interview with a traditional leader, who denounced a mining company's inability to contribute to the development of the community. Media outlets in Kolwezi are not responsible for the statement made by this traditional leader. His remarks do not make the media liable. In making this decision, Kolwezi's urban head of Communications and Media simply wishes to exempt these companies from criticism in the press,” he said.

Journaliste en danger calls on Kolwezi's urban head of Communications and Media to unconditionally reverse his decision and to allow media outlets and professionals to conduct their work freely.

To JED, this decision completely violates access to information – a right that is guaranteed under the constitution. This decision should thus be considered null and void.

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