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D.R Congo21 March 2003

Journalist detained without trial for over one month

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the continued detention of Bamporiki Chamira, a journalist with the daily "La Tempête des Tropiques". He has been held at an Intelligence Services detention centre for over one month.

"We wish to be informed without delay of the reasons behind this journalist’s detention," Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard said in a letter to Congolese President Joseph Kabila. The organisation asked that the journalist be presumed innocent and be granted a fair trial. Reporters Without Borders noted that regardless of the reasons behind Chamira’s imprisonment, the National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements, ANR) has not respected the rule of law. Congolese law stipulates that suspects can only be held for a maximum 48-hour period before being released or presented before a judge. "Nothing can justify this drawn out and illegal detention," Ménard added.

Chamira has being detained in an ANR cell in Kinshasa, in very difficult conditions, since 14 February 2003. No one has been allowed to meet with him since his incarceration. The police officers guarding him have told his wife that his health has suffered. The journalist’s eldest son is reportedly also being held. According to ANR officials, Chamira and his family are accused of being involved in unspecified "subversive activities". "Damning documents" are said to have been found during the search of the journalist’s home.

Reporters Without Borders and Journaliste en Danger, the local press freedom organisation, wrote to ANR Administrator-General Didier Kazadi Nyembwe on 28 February, seeking permission to visit Chamira. The groups have not received a response to their request.

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