Attacks on reporters threaten right to information in DRC’s Nord-Kivu province
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns threats and violence against journalists in Nord-Kivu province, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, just weeks ahead of elections. Armed masked intruders have attacked two reporters at night in their homes in Nord-Kivu in the space of a week. The authorities must identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice, RSF says.
These night-time attacks have yet again confirmed the status of Nord-Kivu – where the presence of rebel armed groups fuels endemic violence – as an extremely dangerous region for media personnel.
The latest victim was Nerry Ushindi, a journalist with Radio Télévision Ishango (RTI), a community radio station based in Kasindi, a small border town in the northeastern corner of the province. Three armed masked individuals forced their way into his home in Kasindi on the night of 9 November.
Armed with a gun, machetes and a hammer, the intruders demanded money and Ushindi’s journalistic equipment, and threatened to prevent him from continuing to work for RTI. Ushindi finally handed over this equipment, including two phones, and 400,000 Congolese francs (about 150 euros). Before leaving, they stabbed him in an arm and beat his mother, who was present at the time.
On the night of 2 November, Jonas Kasula was attacked at his home in Goma, the provincial capital, where he covers crime and violence in the city in the political news programme he presents on Hope Channel TV. Four armed masked intruders tied him up, stole his equipment, and threatened to come back and kill him if he did not stop working as a journalist, RSF has learned.
The attacks experienced by Nerry Ushindi and Jonas Kasula in their homes, marked by extreme violence, are intolerable. The assailants clearly sought to intimidate journalists critical of their actions in the area. We condemn these two attacks and call on the authorities to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
With just a month to go to general elections in the DRC, the environment for journalism is not improving in Nord-Kivu. Since the start of the year, at least ten physical attacks against journalists have been reported in Basongora community villages in the northeast of the province. RSF is calling on presidential candidates to give ten public undertakings to promote press freedom, including providing journalists with better protection.