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D.R. Congo8 October 2002

Three journalists arrested by RCD rebels

Reporters Without Borders has protested to the authorities of the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD, a rebel movement that controls the country’s eastern region) following the arrest of three journalists from an Uvira radio station.

"Press freedom is very limited in the territories under the RCD’s control. Many journalists have been arrested, threatened or assaulted in the region since the start of the conflict," noted Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to RCD President Adolphe Onusumba Yemba. "Your movement has often expressed its intention to protect human rights and freedom of expression. The time has come to demonstrate that these are not simply empty words and prove that you will respect the commitments you made," added Ménard. The organisation called for the immediate release of the three journalists.

According to information collected by Reporters Without Borders, RCD intelligence agents arrested three journalists from Radio Uvira, a local station, on 26 and 27 September 2002. Safari Ntanama, Bugumba Tanganika and Zamukulu Mulungula are reportedly being detained at the "Bureau 2" military prison in Uvira. According to local sources, the journalists were reportedly arrested by order of Tommy Tambwe Rudima, vice-governor of South-Kivu province, who is upset that the journalists broadcast news that he judged to be critical of his movement. He was also upset that they had described the Uvira district as being in a "moribund" state.

Reporters Without Borders recalled that in a report published in 2001, Roberto Garreton, the United Nations’ former special rapporteur in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stated that in the zones controlled by the RCD, "There are no opposition newspapers and the few existing independent radio stations have been suspended, censored and prevented from broadcasting any news other than official reports."

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