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Democratic Republic of Congo2 January 2002

Three journalists arrested in Kinshasa

In a letter sent to the Interior Minister Mira Ndjoku, Reporters sans frontières (RSF - Reporters without Borders) called for the release of three journalists who were arrested in Kinshasa. "The situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not improving, and the final day of 2001 was no exception. Because of Congolese authorities, three journalists spent New Year’s Eve behind bars," said Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF. "President Joseph Kabila must immediately call to order the country’s security forces who imprison journalists and with impunity," added Mr. Ménard.

According to information obtained by RSF, Guy Kasongo Kilembwe and Vicky Bolingola, respectively editor in chief and editorial assistant of the satiric newspaper Pot-Pourri, were arrested on 31 December 2001 in Kinshasa by agents of the Congolese police’s special forces. They were apparently arrested for publishing an article entitled, "Because of the Incapacity and Incompetence of the Current Leaders ... 2002: Hunger Continues". Pot-Pourri claimed "there was a terrible feeling of gloom hanging over the holiday season [...] Meanwhile, Kabila II, the cardboard-cutout Major-General, dropped into the office of Head of State, promised miracles in Katanga. Just like Kabila I." It is not known where the journalists are being held.

On 31 December, Freddy Embumba, a former journalist with the privately-owned daily L’Avenir, was also arrested and taken to the Kabila army camp in Kinshasa. The journalist was questioned on the reasons for his recent resignation from L’Avenir. Thirteen journalists quit the newspaper a few days before in protest against their working conditions.

RSF points out that, in 2001, 26 journalists were arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In February, Guy Kasongo Kilembwe was arrested by members of the Congolese National Police’s special forces. His crime was publishing a caricature of president Joseph Kabila and a list of ministers who, according to the newspaper, would not move on to the new government. Kilembwe was whipped by his jailers and released three weeks later.

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