Congo - Reporter threatened by Pointe-Noire authorities

Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the threats to Christian Perrin, a freelance journalist based in the Republic of Congo’s second biggest city, Pointe-Noire, and urges the civilian authorities and military to stop trying to intimidate Perrin and other journalists.

Perrin has for days been the target of grave threats from Pointe-Noire’s prefect, police chief, mayor and other officials, and today he was summoned to the city’s law courts.

The threats began when Perrin, whose reporting is widely followed, covered opposition demonstrations in late September and again on 17 October, when the police opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators in Pointe-Noire. He had also been the target of intimidation in the past.

He was the victim of an apparent kidnap attempt while driving his car on 20 October. Masked men in police uniforms ordered him to pull over but he managed to drive away. Since then, he and his family have been the target of several kidnap and death threats by the local authorities.

We call on the Congolese authorities to stop trying to intimidate the media,” Reporters Without Borders editor in chief Virginie Dangles said. “Journalists must be able to work freely, especially during an election period.

The political climate is very tense as a result of a referendum on a controversial new constitution on 25 October. Radio France Internationale’s local FM retransmission signal and the Internet were disconnected on 20 October as a major opposition protest was being organized.

Ghys Fortuné Bemba Dombe, a journalist with the Brazza News website, was arrested yesterday and is still being held. In a recent article, he accused President Denis Sassou Nguesso of using mercenaries to attack the new constitution’s opponents.

The Republic of Congo is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.