The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today denounced the decision of the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to suspend Radio France Internationale (RFI) broadcasts in the country.
“The suspension of the programmes which follows that in the eastern part of the country on May 5th is an unjust measure that constitutes a violation of freedom of expression and press freedom, especially in a country where independent information is most needed,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “We ask the Congolese authorities to lift the suspension immediately and restore RFI programmes on air in the DRC”.
On Sunday July 26, 2009, the Congolese government took the decision to cut off the FM relays of RFI in Kinshasa, Matadi, Kisangani and Lumumbashi, accusing the broadcaster of “airing information from MONUC about reasons why certain units of former rebels, recently integrated into the Congolese army, chose to desert”. For RFI, the story was about “the normal reporting of information made available to the public by an international institution, MONUC, during a press conference on July 22”.
On May 5, 2009, the Minister of Communication and Media, Lambert Mendé Omalanga, had claimed that RFI was stirring up unrest in the east of the country and threatened even to cut off the signals to other media, if needed. Consequently,other media are concerned by this threat.
For the past few years, the Congolese authorities have been critical of RFI following the decision to expel its special correspondent in Kinshasa, Ghislaine Dupont, during the electoral campaign in July 2006.
IFJ calls on the Congolese authorities to exercise restraint and tolerance and demands the Haute Autorité des Médias (HAM), Union Nationale de la Presse Congolaise (UNPC) and the Observatoire des Médias du Congo (OMEC) to help the two sides engage in dialogue in order to find solutions which are mutually beneficial to all parties by creating a free and safe environment for independent journalism.
For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide