IFJ Calls for Release of Two Journalist Union Activists Detained in DRC

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the DRC authorities to release Michel Shango and Vincent Hata, two journalists and trade unionists of the state-owned Congolese National Radio and Television station (RTNC), who have been detained since July 27 in connection with their trade-union activities.

A third journalist Risasi Tambwe, arrested with them, was released last Tuesday.

“We condemn this arbitrary detention, which aims to intimidate RTNC workers and hence a violation of their trade-union rights,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa office. “We call on President Joseph Kabila, to intervene for the immediate and unconditional release of the journalists and to make sure the crisis at the RTNC ends.”

The three journalists and members of the National Trade Union of the Professionals of the Press (SNPP) of DRC were arrested after they decided to organize a general assembly in order to discuss with their colleagues the crisis which has shaken the RTNC for more than a year. The trade unionists wanted to discuss the failure of the three weeks negotiations with the management for payment of bonuses to the workers according to a May 2006 agreement.

This general assembly was banned by the Manager of the RTNC, Emmanuel Kipolongo, who ordered the arrest of the journalists.

No official charge was filed against them but they could be accused of attempts to create disorders within the company and to sabotage the Head of the State while seeking to start a strike.

“These allegations are purely baseless and politically motivated, which gives an indication as to why the management had decided to flee from the debate,” said Stanis Nkundiye, Secretary General of the SNPP. “We also denounce the bad conditions in which of Shango and Hata are detained.

A delegation from the SNPP visited the two journalists this Monday morning at the Court of Gombé in Kinshasa where they have just been transferred.

Makolo Tshilumbayi who was also arrested along with the journalists was released on Thursday after the security forces realised that he was not a RTNC worker but a regular visitor.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries