IFJ Strongly Condemns the Assassination of a Journalist in Democratic Republic of Congo

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today  condemned in the strongest terms the assassination of Patient Chebeya Bankome , 35, independent journalist-cameraman in Béni, 3rd city of North Kivu Province in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on Monday,  April 5, 2010.

“We strongly condemn the murder of this colleague and demand that the continuous attacks against journalists in the Eastern Congo be halted with immediate effect and the perpetrators severely punished” declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “Violence and assassination of journalists in the Eastern DRC constitutes a systematic attempt to intimidate and silence the media in the most inhumane fashion” he added.

On Monday 5th April around 22:30 local time, Patient Chebeya Bankome commonly known as Montigomo, was going back home from « Studio Panorama » his recording studio.  He was surrounded in front of his house - at the time when his wife opened the door to him - by gunmen in military style who had apparently placed surveillance on him.  He was stripped off his bag containing working materials including video cassettes, mobile phone and some money before being shot with six bullets.

According to his wife who was at the scene, the gunmen refused to yield to the supplications of the journalist and her, by saying clearly that they had come to kill him. What makes people believe that Montigomo was specifically targeted for murder. According to corroborating sources Montigomo was a highly respected journalist-cameraman who had covered all the armed conflicts in the Eastern DRC, particularly in Ituri.

The Syndicat National des Professionnels de la Presse (SNPP) an IFJ affiliate, through its Secretary General is dismayed by this heinous crime which brings to 5 the number of journalists killed in the region since 2007 and to 7 the number of journalists killed in DRC since 2005. “Our late colleagues Serge Maheshe and Didace Namujimbo were killed in the same manner.  “Even if it is announced that two suspects were arrested, we deplore that all the investigations initiated in the past have not produced any results” said Stanis Nkundiye. “For once, it is necessary that the government reassure  journalists on their determination to put every effort to ensure that those reponsible are brought to justice.”

IFJ calls on the Congolese authorities to conduct an investigation to identify and punish severely the perpetrators of this heinous crime and to guarantee the safety of journalists working in the eastern part of the country.

For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide