The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) joins its member, Journaliste en Danger (JED) to condemn the closure of Radio Iriba based in Bukavu, capital of the province of South Kivu in Eastern DR Congo.
According to JED, a group of officials from the Congolese national police visited the premises of Radio Iriba on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, and ordered journalists who were working at the station to halt broadcasting immediately. The officials ensured that the workers at the station evacuated the premises before it was cordoned off by the security agents.
When the Director of Radio Iriba FM, Prisca Bukaraba, followed up at the prosecutor’s office to find out the reason for the closure of the station, the magistrate categorically refused to mention the name of the complainant or the reason for the closure of his radio.
“He simply told us that he executed an order from his superiors,” Bukaraba said.
AFEX sources say the owner of the station, who used to be a journalist, has recently entered politics on the side of the opposition. Reports say the station was therefore targeted for political reasons. The closure of the station will deprive millions of citizens from actively participating in the electoral processes as the country goes to the polls in December 2018. .
AFEX calls on the authorities in DR Congo to reopen the station and allow it carry out its work freely. If the radio station has breached any professional code, it behoves on the media regulatory body to take it up. On the other hand, if the station has committed any crime, due process must be followed, rather than the authorities resorting to shutting down the station arbitrarily.