The prolonged conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has translated into a nightmare for journalists and their work. The environment has sabotaged the safety of journalists with mass arrests, detainment and assassinations on the grounds of defamation and distribution of false information perpetrated against them.
On October 6, 2023, the mayor of the northwestern Congolese city, Lisala, Desi Koyo, issued an order for the indefinite suspension of radio broadcasts by Radio Top Lisala.
According to media reports, the radio station had disregarded an earlier order in the month of August by the mayor to suspend broadcast on the basis of defamation, immoral and insulting language on the current affairs program, Tic Tac, which undermined the dignity of the Mongala Provincial authorities.
In the press law introduced in March 2023, it is the sole prerogative of the Superior Council of Audiovisual and Communication to issue sanctions against media outlets and journalists for professional misconduct and as a result the mayor does not have the legal mandate to suspend journalists from reporting.
The media in the country have expressed worry over the fact that the criminal defamation complaint leveled against Moleka by the Mayor could attract up to a five-year jail term.
Moleka has denied claims of insult against authorities and told the media that he denounced the arbitrary arrest of local people and the slow implementation of President Tshisikedi’s flagship national program to combat poverty and inequality. The station’s general director, Ernest Ngasa also refuted claims of insult against authorities in the province to the media.
AFEX condemns the illegal arrests, detention and killing of journalists in DR Congo. We call on the Government of DR Congo to release illegally detained journalists and improve press laws which removes restriction to the movement and freedoms of the press.
Finally, we call on the Government to combat impunity against journalist from the past and the present.