Senegal: CPJ says 3 journalists assaulted in Congo Brazzaville

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said that three international journalists who were covering the elections in the Republic of Congo were punched and had their passports and equipment seized on Wednesday by a group of four men who identified themselves as police.

In a statement made available to PANA on Friday, the press freedom watchdog revealed that the French paper, Le Monde reported that its correspondent Christophe Châtelot and two journalists from Agence France-Presse, who have not been named, were attacked as they left a news conference in the capital, Brazzaville, held by General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, an opposition candidate who announced he would challenge the election results.

Earlier on Wednesday, initial election results showed the incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso had won the elections, extending his 32-year-rule.

"Not content with merely making it difficult for journalists to file by shutting down communications, the authorities have now resorted to violence to deter independent reporting," remarked CPJ Deputy Executive Director, Robert Mahoney.

"We call on the police to return all seized journalistic materials and hold the government responsible for ensuring that journalists can work safely and freely."

According to the statement, Châtelot and the AFP journalists filed a police report after the attack and submitted a formal complaint about the incident to the police on Thursday.

The passports and cameras were later returned, but memory cards containing images of the news conference were not immediately returned.

It was pointed out that attempts by CPJ to seek comment via telephone from the Congolese Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the country's High Council of Freedom of Communication in Brazzaville, went unanswered.

The statement noted that the day before the March 20 election, the Interior Minister ordered telecommunications companies to cut all mobile phone, text message, and internet service for at least 48 hours to prevent "illegal" reporting of election results.

CPJ said the blackout remained in effect until Thursday, when it was partially lifted.
-0- PANA MLJ/MA 25March2016

25 march 2016 15:10:01

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