Reporters Without Borders has written an open letter to President Joseph Kabila, who begins a two-day state visit to France today, voicing its concern about threats made in the past few days against its partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, Journalist in Danger (JED).
HE Joseph Kabila
President of the Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Paris, 16 July 2008
Dear Mr. President,
As you arrive on an official visit to France, Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your attention to the threats that have been made against the press freedom group Journalist in Danger (JED), our partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo.
On 7 July, JED received an anonymous email from the address email@example.com denigrating the organisation and making death threats. The message said: “Many people have already paid the price and that could happen to you at any time especially as we are here with you and you cannot identify us. We could have easily done it already, but the time will come.” A man identifying himself as the author of the 7 July email made a threatening phone call to one of the JED members a week later from this number: +243 81 86 83 879.
We regard Journalist in Danger as an essential partner in our activities on behalf of press freedom. It received the 15th annual Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France prize in 2006 and the independence and accuracy of its work is recognized by the international community. JED is a major asset for your country and is playing a key role in the transition of which you are in charge.
We therefore ask you to ensure that JED’s members are protected and to do everything you can to put a stop to the threats against them. We have strong reasons to fear that these threats could be carried out.
We already voiced our exasperation and concern in September 2007 about the grave threats being made against JED executive-director Donat M’Baya Tshimanga and secretary-general Tshivis Tshivuadi, which resulted in their having to leave the country temporarily.
We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.