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DR Congo3 February 2003

Journalist arbitrarily detained for the past month

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the arbitrary detention of journalist Kadima Mukombe. The Radio Kilimandjaro host has been detained at the Tshikapa central prison, in the country’s southern region, for the past month. The organisation has urged the authorities to do everything possible to secure his immediate release and punish those behind the journalist’s arrest and detention. According to Reporters Without Borders, Mukombe did nothing more than carry out his professional duties, and nothing can justify his prolonged detention.

Mukombe has being held without trial in very difficult conditions since 31 December 2002. The journalist received some 50 lashes at the time of his arrest and had his head shaved with an old razor blade. Mukombe shares a cell with army deserters and common criminals who reportedly threaten him daily.

According to information collected by Reporters Without Borders, Mukombe has been accused of "insulting the army". In his 30 December programme, the journalist had criticised local military leaders, accusing them of having become diamond traders and allowed their unsupervised troops to steal goods from the local population. To illustrate the problem, the journalist had interviewed diamond mine workers who described the harassment they face from certain soldiers.

National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale des renseignements) agents had previously arrested Mukombe on 23 December, after the broadcast of a radio programme in which he denounced the poverty faced by Tshikapa’s local population, while thousands of carats of diamonds are mined in the city on a daily basis. Before his release that same day, Mukombe was forced to sign a document in which he agreed to no longer "set the population against the established authorities."

Reporters without Borders previously urged the authorities to secure the journalist’s release on 3 January 2003.

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