DRC: Provincial Governor Summoned for Torture and Injury Against Journalists

Following a legal action initiated by Journalist in Danger (JED) through a Law Firm of Lodja, the Governor of the province of Sankuru (Center of the DR Congo), Mr. Joseph Stéphane Mukumadi, as well as the Lieutenant-Colonel Kalala, an officer of the Armed Forces of the DR Congo, have been summoned to the Superior Military Prosecutor’s Office of the former Kasai Oriental province where they are being prosecuted for torture of journalists, violations of guaranteed rights of individuals, assault and aggravated battery and incitement of the military to commit acts contrary to the call of duty and discipline.

The summon of which JED has a copy of, stated that Governor Joseph Stéphane Mukumadi is hereby summoned to report on Monday, September 14, 2020, to the office of the Senior Military Prosecutor of the former Kasai Oriental province, based in Mbuji -Mayi, capital of the province of Kasai Oriental, to answer for acts committed against the journalists of Radio Losanganya, a radio station based in Lodja.

According to our sources, on Sunday September 7, 2020, Lieutenant-Colonel Kalala was immediately invited by the Senior Prosecutor of the FARDC for a hearing which lasted more than 5 hours. This FARDC officer was informed that he is now subject to military justice and will not be able to leave the town of Lodja. While the hearing continued, Lieutenant-Colonel Kalala requested permission to relieve himself and did not return to the room.

At the request of JED, the Law Firm Benoît Savin Dandja & Associés initiated this complaint registered as “File RMP: 862 / LG / 20 against Lt Col Kalala / Comd 2105 Bn Inf et Consorts” on behalf of MM. Albert Lokongo, Hubert Ndjoko and François Lendo, respectively technician, journalist and director of Radio Losanganya, who are victims of various acts of violence and arbitrariness committed by soldiers and police on the orders of the Governor of Sankuru province.

By way of a reminder, during a meeting on August 20, 2020, at the Patrice Emery Lumumba stadium in Lodja, Governor Mukumadi publicly threatened these journalists, and ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Kalala Lingos to raid the facilities of RTNC / Lodja and Radio Losanganya without delay. These two media were closed for a few days and their broadcasting material taken away.

In the process, the soldiers arrested journalists Albert Lokongo and Hubert Ndjoko. Severely beaten and tortured, the two journalists were admitted at the Lodja General Hospital for appropriate treatment.

In a press release dated on August 31, 2020, Journalist in Danger (JED) demanded the suspension from duty and legal proceedings against Governor Joseph Stéphane Mukumadi.