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Democratic Republic of Congo16 February 2006

JED President summoned by police special services unit

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by news that Journaliste en danger (JED) president Donat M’Baya Tshimanga has been summoned to the special services unit of the national intelligence bureau (Direction des renseignements généraux et services spéciaux, DRGS). The summons comes just two days after JED released its report on the investigation into the murder of journalist Franck Ngyke and his wife.

"It is scandalous that Donat M’Baya Tshimanga should be treated as a suspect for having published an investigative report into the murder of a fellow journalist," Reporters Without Borders said. "Given the heavy political climate reigning in Kinshasa today, summoning someone to the police’s special services unit the day before the weekend would appear to be a threat, if it is not a gross political blunder. JED’s president is prepared to defend his organisation’s report, but not in the hidden rooms of the DRGS, whose brutality is only too well known."

At 10:55 a.m. (local time) on 16 February, a police officer appeared at JED’s Kinshasa office demanding to see Donat M’Baya Tshimanga. After being told he was not in, the officer left an "invitation" summoning Tshimanga to DRGS headquarters for "information". The summons was signed by the deputy inspector of department operations, Elias Tshibangu.

Donat M’Baya Tshimanga, president of Reporters Without Borders’s partner organisation in Kinshasa, was forced into hiding last week as a result of serious and persistent threats to his personal safety. Published on 14 February 2006, JED’s report on the 3 November 2005 double murder of Franck Ngyke, a political affairs journalist for La Référence Plus, and his wife, Hélène Paka, highlights the troubling behaviour of certain high-ranking members of the Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie (PPRD, the party of President Joseph Kabila) as well as the machinations of police in charge of the investigation.

Facing a public outcry after the publication of JED’s report, state television announced on the evening of 15 February that Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa, who is in charge of defence and security in the ruling Congolese government, had decided to set up an ad-hoc sub-commission charged with reporting on the investigation into the murders of Ngyke and Paka. The announcement represents the first political response in three months, while official investigations continue to stand behind the theory of a random crime, despite all evidence to the contrary.

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