Letters   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Congolese governor urged to ensure journalist's safety

May 7, 2009

His Excellency Julien Paluku Kahongya
Governor of North Kivu Province
Goma, North Kivu
Democratic Republic of Congo

Dear Governor Kahongya,

We are concerned about the safety of journalist Tuver Wundi Muhindo following an armed attack on his home in the North Kivu capital of Goma on April 12. The incident followed the 2007 murder of Goma photojournalist Patrick Kikuku Wilingula, which is still unsolved. We call on you to use your influence to ensure authorities conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Muhindo is a reporter with the national public broadcaster Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) and a local correspondent for the press freedom group Journaliste En Danger (JED), which is based in Kinshasa.

Around 8 p.m. on April 12, four men armed with AK-47 assault rifles and wearing civilian clothes, broke into his home, according to JED and Muhindo. They held Muhindo in a room at gunpoint, stating they had been sent to kill him because he was the "wealthiest journalist in town." Muhindo told CPJ they threatened to rape his wife and other female members of his family. The men took cash and valuables.

Gabriel Lukeka, RTNC bureau chef in Goma, said the station is unaware of a specific report that would have prompted the attack but has urged authorities to investigate the attack. Maj. Thierry Chermwamy, a military intelligence officer, told CPJ the case was transferred to military justice because the assailants used "weapons of war." Speaking to CPJ, Goma Military Prosecutor Jean-Blaise Bwamulundu said five suspects were in custody.

Bwamulundu is also overseeing investigations into the unsolved murder of Patrick Kikuku Wilingula, a freelance photojournalist gunned down in Goma in August 2007. No arrests have been made. Bwamulundu said investigators had discovered a new lead but declined to comment further, citing judicial confidentiality.

We urge you to use your leadership to ensure that authorities bring the Muhindo investigation to a close and bring the perpetrators to justice. We also call for thorough investigations into all threats and attacks against the press. Combating a culture of impunity in attacks on the press is necessary to establish security and the rule of law.

Sincerely, 

Joel Simon
Executive Director

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