IFJ Condemns Wave of Violence Against Journalists in DRC after Killing of Photojournalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the killing of Patrick Kikuku, a freelance photojournalist, shot dead yesterday evening in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by unidentified men in army uniforms. He was the second journalist killed there in the last two months.

“DRC is now the most dangerous place for journalists in Africa after Somalia,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We firmly condemn this murder and we call on the authorities of DRC to conduct a serious investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. The impunity for journalists’ killers must end.”

Patrick Kikuku was a freelance photojournalist working in Goma in eastern DRC for national news agency Agence Nationale de Presse and private newspaper Union Magazine. According to eyewitnesses, he was going home around 7.30 pm when he was arrested by two armed men in military uniforms. Kikuku was attempting to run away when one of the men shot him in the head.

Patrick Kikuku was an active member of the Nationale Association of the Press of Congo (UNPC). Gabriel Lukeka, President of the section of North Kivu of UNPC, told IFJ that he was with Kikuku the day before his killing and had not heard about any intimidation or threats against his murdered colleague.

On 13 June, journalist Serge Maheshe was murdered in Bukavu, a city in the eastern region of DRC that has been the site of unrest. Some soldiers and two of Maheshe’s friends have been so arrested but local sources say investigators have arrested innocent people.

The IFJ calls for a thorough and impartial investigation into Maheshe’s killing and into the murders of the other journalists killed since 2005.

The IFJ also renews its call for the release of Michel Shango and Vincent Hata, two journalists and trade unionists at state-owned Congolese National Radio and Television station (RTNC) who have been detained since July 27 in connection with their trade-union activities.

A delegation of the National Trade Union of the Professionals of the Press (SNPP) of DRC today met with the prosecutor.

“The prosecutor asked us to pay 300 US dollars in bail. The SNPP and the two families of our colleagues paid this bail and the prosecutor has promised that they will be set free by tomorrow,” said Stanis Nkundiye, Secretary General of the SNPP.

The two journalists have not yet been charged. The IFJ believes that no charges should be filed against their colleagues.

The IFJ also called on the management of the RTNC to allow Shango and Hata to resume their work and to allow all its workers to participate freely in union activities.

For more information contact the IFJ Africa Office at + 221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide