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Congolese radio reporter killed in dangerous province of North Kivu

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 29 December 2014.

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of state radio reporter Robert Chamwami Shalubuto in the eastern capital Goma, North Kivu Province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday and bring those responsible to justice.

Two unidentified gunmen entered a pub in the Keshero neighborhood of Goma around 9 p.m. local time on December 26 and shot Chamwami in the chest, according to news reports and local journalists based in the capital. Chamwami died en route to a hospital, the same sources said. A veteran reporter and anchor in Swahili and English, Chamwami had worked for the state broadcaster, Congolese National Radio and Television (RTNC), for 17 years, local journalists told CPJ.

Local journalists who spoke to CPJ said they could not identify a particular news story that could have served as a motive for murder, but said Chamwami had previously received death threats by phone. The state reporter started his career as a sports reporter but more recently covered general news for the English service, including sensitive local topics such as a jail break from Goma Central Prison earlier in December, the journalists said.

Chamwami had just completed an interview at the local university, Radio Kivu One journalist Magloire Paluku told private broadcaster Télé 50, and had joined friends in the evening at a pub close to his home.

The vice-governor of North Kivu Province, Feller Lutaichirwa, said an investigation into the murder is ongoing, news reports said. The province is an especially dangerous one for the press, according to CPJ research.

"Journalists have long been targeted in North Kivu with impunity," said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. "Now is the time to put a stop to the cycle of violence by conducting a credible investigation into this murder and holding the perpetrators to account."

RTNC Provincial Director Gabriel Lukaka told CPJ the station was greatly saddened by the loss and is investigating potential motives behind the killing.

The North Kivu Province branch of the National Press Union of the Congo organized a media blackout for North Kivu Province from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 29 to protest against the killing of Chamwami, according to news reports and local journalists.

In February a Ugandan rebel group, Allied Democratic Forces, shot dead Radio Télévision Muungano reporter Germain Kennedy in the North Kivu town of Oïcha while he rode in a Congolese military vehicle.

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