Nicaise Kibel’Bel Oka, publication director of the weekly "Les
Coulisses", has received several death threats recently. The threats are being
taken very seriously, as they follow the publication of an article in which he
accused leaders of the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement (Rassemblement congolais
pour la démocratie-Mouvement de libération, RCD-ML) of creating insecurity in
the country’s northeastern region in order to cement their power. Reporters Without Borders called on
the government to intercede with local political leaders and urge them to
protect the journalist.
"We are very worried about Kibel’Bel Oka’s situation. These death threats must
be taken very seriously, as security forces act with utter impunity in this part
of the country. The government must intervene in this matter without delay in
order to quieten down the situation," said Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard.
"Several of the senior civilian and military officials who are threatening the
journalist are members of the RCD-ML, one of the government forces’ main
parties," noted Reporters Without Borders. "What’s more, RCD-ML President Mbusa Nyamwisi is also
minister of regional cooperation. We ask him, along with the interior and
information ministers, to do everything in their power to protect Kibel’Bel Oka,
ensure that the threats against him stop, and allow him to continue his
journalistic work without obstruction. We will hold them responsible should
anything happen to him," Reporters Without Borders added.
Kibel’Bel Oka published an investigative report in issue 134 of the weekly "Les
Coulisses" concerning violent clashes that took place in the Beni region
(northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo) in December 2003. Official
statements made at the time said that government troops had been attacked by
Ugandan rebels, causing two deaths and serious injuries to two others. The
investigative piece published by "Les Coulisses", however, claimed that the
so-called rebels were in fact being used by the RCD-ML to manufacture a climate
of terror that would allow local leaders to maintain a strong military presence
in the region.
Reporters Without Borders further noted that a journalist has been missing in the Democratic Republic
of Congo since 26 June. Acquitté Kisembo, a Bunia-based Agence
France-Presse (AFP) contributor, in the northeastern corner of the DRC, was
abducted by a group of militiamen while he was interviewing civilians. The militiamen reportedly threatened him because of his
work with foreign media, particularly AFP. Kisembo has not been heard from
since. Some sources believe that he may have been abducted and killed by men
operating under Thomas Lubanga’s leadership. Lubanga heads the Union of
Congolese Patriots (Union des patriotes congolais, UPC) group.