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Closed proceedings on DRC bank crisis: An affront to the right to information

REUTERS/Jonny Hogg

This statement was originally published in French on on 19 May 2016.

In a letter sent on Thursday, May 19, 2016 to the Mr. Aubin Minaku, President of the National Assembly, Journaliste en Danger (JED) expressed its strong protest against the decision given during the plenary session on May 18, 2016 to declare closed proceedings for the oral question and debate between MP Jean Lucien Busa and the Governor of the Central Bank of the Congo, on the current crisis situation at the “Banque International pour l'Afrique au Congo” or BIAC.

“Through these actions, you have not only deprived millions of BIAC clients, who are already victims of suspended payments, the right to know why they can no longer access and freely dispose of their assets deposited into accounts at this bank, but you also have also exacerbated the distrust of millions of other Congolese in the Congolese banking system. Therefore, it is clear that Parliament, under your leadership, has information that it wants to hide from their knowledge,” reads this correspondence signed by its General Secretary, Tshivis Tshivuadi.

For JED, the provisions of the rules of procedure mentioned by the President of the National Assembly in order to justify its unfair and repressive decision, do not, under any circumstances, authorize it to override the Constitution, which guarantees Congolese citizens their right to information on an issue of such importance and public interest, and which determines their future.

“While the government of the majority to which you belong to sounds the horn of good governance and national reconstruction, JED believes that the old habits, rooted in mismanagement, embezzlement and corruption, should die hard yet still so many politicians in power and unscrupulous officials in tactless public companies continue to be protected by the Parliament that you lead, on the grounds that they are members of your political family,” writes Tshivis Tshivuadi.

“In view of this, JED immediately demands that you, as the leader of the people you claim to represent, correct this serious obstacle to freedom of information and the public's right to information by broadcasting, even in delayed relay, the debates on the current situation within the BIAC, and which is a highly topical subject for the public. At the same time, JED asks that you exercise your prerogatives to immediately review the draft legislation on Access to Information, that has already been adopted by the Senate and is still in your Chambers,” concludes the correspondence.

Not without reiterating that “the situational analysis of the freedom of the press in DRC indicates many cases of censorship, brutal repression against media professionals, difficult access to sources of information, and the refusal to disclose public information amply justifies why DRC is shamefully ranked 152 out of 180 in a worldwide ranking of freedom of information.”

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