Congo: IFJ Calls on DRC Prime Minister to Investigate Minister after Beating of Journalists

Nov. 30, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today urged the new government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to order an immediate investigation into a minister after he reportedly ordered police officers to beat two journalists in his office in retaliation for a critical news report.

“It is outrageous that Minister Sylvain Ngabu remains in the government and is not being investigated for this violent attack on two of our colleagues,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. Prime Minister Gizenga should launch and immediate investigation into this attack and prosecute Minister Ngabu if he did order the beatings.

The IFJ is standing in solidarity with the Congolese media community and is supporting its news embargo on all of Ngabus activities, which was declared on October 26 and is widely respected by the local media.

On October 22 Sylvain Ngabu, who was at the time the Minister of Higher Education but is now in a different post, called private television station Horizon 33s news director, Eustache Namunanikira, and one of its cameramen, Didier Lofumbwa, to his office to complain. According to the National Union of Media Workers (SNPP) of DRC, Ngabu was unhappy with the broadcast of an interview with the rector of a university who was criticising his dismissal by the Minister. According to the SNPP Ngabu ordered police officers in his security detail to beat Namunanikira and Lofumbwa in his presence.

The journalists suffered injuries and their equipment was damaged.

“The SNPP has expressed dismay about the Minister Ngabus attitude and supported the boycott of his activities by the Congolese media,” said Stanis Nkundiye, Secretary General of the SNPP.

In the November 26 government shake-up, Ngabu moved from the Ministry of Higher Education to that of Town Planning and Habitat.

For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

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