Reporters Without Borders voiced deep disappointment at the Congolese authorities’ expulsion of special correspondent for French public radio Radio France Internationale (RFI), Ghislaine Dupont.
The press freedom organisation said her 3 July 2006 ouster amounted to “score-settling” and was a “serious violation of press freedom.”
In March 2006, Dupont, who has been covering events in the DRC for several years, was the subject of a vicious protest letter from Press and Information Minister, Henri Mova Sakanyi, who compared RFI with Radiotélévision libre des mille collines (RTLM), which incited genocide against Rwandan Tutsis.
"It is distressing to have to point out that it is the job of news organisations and not the authorities to select correspondents. The intransigence of the Congolese government, which has used groundless excuses to justify its decision, is unbelievable.
“We also deplore the fact that the neither the presidency nor the information ministry responded to appeals from press freedom organisations,” it added.
Dupont left Kinshasa for Brussels on the evening of 3 July after the Congolese police General Direction for intelligence and special services (DGRS) notified her in person that she was being expelled from the country.
She had been based in the country since April 2006 with a journalist’s working visa. She has never obtained the accreditation demanded by the Press and Information Ministry, but she had been accredited by the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monuc). Along with other western journalists working in the country, she had started covering the election campaign which opened on 29 June, while waiting for the ministry’s decision.
The Press and Information Ministry’s system of awarding accreditations is very uncertain. They take payments in cash, which can vary according to the journalist involved and can range from around 15 to several hundred dollars. The receipt provided on the basis of often fanciful information, is on a single sheet with no stamp or official’s name and has no legal value. All that is required to work as a journalist in the DRC is a working visa. The ministry’s accreditation is a convention without legal basis.