Democratic Republic Of Congo: Attempt to kidnap press freedom defender in Kinshasa

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns last week’s attack by gunmen on the Kinshasa home of Tshivis Tshivuadi, the secretary-general of the Congolese media freedom NGO Journalist in Danger (JED), and calls on the authorities to investigate this serious incident without delay.

Six armed men claiming to be members of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Intelligence Agency (ANR) tried to enter Tshivuadi’s home three times on the night of 29 December. According to JED, which is RSF’s partner in the DRC, the gunmen gave one of the guards a bad beating and threatened to shoot him if he did not give them the current location of Tshivuadi, who was not at home at the time.

JED said it regarded the incident as an attempt to kidnap Tshivuadi and urged the Congolese authorities in charge of security to conduct an investigation. JED said it also planned to file a complaint with the relevant judicial authorities.

“This attempt to abduct the head of a leading Congolese civil society organization is unacceptable,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “A swift investigation is needed in order to shed all possible light on this serious incident. Instead of encouraging a climate of mistrust towards the media and making accusations against those who defend them, the authorities have a duty to protect journalists and combat impunity for crimes against them.”

In an end-of-year TV programme entitled “Grand Oral 2017,” Tshivuadi had just accused the authorities of being behind 90% of the cases of violence against journalists, mentioning the deputy prime minister’s recent decision to order police to “ransack” the premises of RadioTélévision Kindu Maniema (RTKM), a local TV station in the eastern city of Kindu, on the night of 6 December in response to a programme he disliked.

The programme’s host, Mila Dipenge, has been missing since the raid.

JED thinks it has been in the government’s sights even since the release in early November of its annual report on the state of freedom of the press and expression in the DRC. The report named several “enemies of the press” including communication and media minister Lambert Mendé.

The next day, Mendé threatened JED, questioned its credibility and accused it of “political activism.”

Media freedom has been declining steadily in the DRC, which is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.