Gambia: CPJ wants charges against DRC journalist dropped

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should drop all charges against journalist Jeef Mwingamb and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said.

In a statement made available to PANA on Saturday, the press freedom watchdog said that Mwingamb, the editor-in-chief of the weekly Le Fédéral, faced defamation charges for writing about a Congolese minister.

According to CPJ, Congo's national security service (ANR) summoned the journalist on 30 August to its office in Lubumbashi and detained him.

The charge is said to be in relation to a complaint that a regional government minister, Viviane Kapufi Mwansa, made to the federal security service about the way Mwingamb portrayed her in an article in Le Fédéral newspaper on 19 August.

According to CPJ, the journalist was due to appear in court on Friday, but police told his lawyer that the hearing was cancelled because Mwingamb experienced health problems.

"Jeef Mwingamb should have never been arrested and detained. Authorities must release him immediately and ensure he has access to adequate medical attention," remarked CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator Angela Quintal.

"It is outrageous to target members of the press with criminal defamation simply for doing their job."

CPJ said it was unable to determine if Mwingamb was still being held in the regional prosecutor general's office, or if he had been taken to a hospital for medical treatment

The press freedom body said the national security service in Lubumbashi did not respond to its repeated calls.

Marianne Yav, regional secretary of the Union National de la Presse du Congo in Lubumbashi, told CPJ that she deplored the use of the state security service to arrest journalists.

"Congolese authorities have been cracking down on critical reporters in recent weeks. A court on August 29 sentenced Jean Pierre Tshibitshabu to eight months in prison for incitement.

"Tshibitshabu, a reporter for independent broadcaster Radio Television KADEKAS, was arrested during nationwide pro-democracy protests on July 31. At least 18 other journalists were briefly detained or harassed during the demonstrations," the statement added.
-0- PANA MLJ/MA 2Sept2017

02 september 2017 20:30:20

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