Democratic Republic of Congo Arrests
Female Journalists

| Help Protest This Attack on the Press | Protest Index | CPJ Home |

.

.

.


December 22, 1998

His Excellency Laurent-Désiré Kabila
President of the Republic Ngaliema, Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of Congo
VIA FAX: 011-243-88-02120 / 1-202-234-2609


Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express deep concern over the December 19, 1998, arrests of Yvette Idi Lupantsha and Risasi Gisonga, respectively news presenter and editor for the state-owned Radio et Télévision National du Congo (RTNC). To our knowledge, the arrest of Idi marks the first case of a detention of a female journalist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. CPJ is alarmed that, with the arrest of Idi and Risasi, at least 67 journalists have incurred various forms of government retaliation such as death threats and arbitrary detention for their professional work in the Democratic Republic of Congo since Your Excellency assumed power in May, 1997. And, according to our records, now that Idi and Risasi are in government custody, 10 journalists are currently in prison for exercising their right to report the news. This multitude of press freedom violations demonstrates a blatant disregard for the most basic standards of free expression established by international law. Congolese National Police officers arrested Idi and Risasi without charge at the Lingwala branch offices of the RTNC and transported them to the former headquarters of the military district of Kinshasa (CIRCO), now utilized by police special services. There, the journalists were held in the same cell, awaiting interrogation by a police commander. Two days earlier, at RTNC, National Information Agency (ANR) security agents attempted to detain the journalists for questioning. Idi and Risasi were accused of being "traitors to the republic" and of having acted as spies for the United States for giving copies of a video cassette of a press conference held by Your Excellency to the U.S. Ambassador, William Swing. As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ regards the arrest and continued detention of Idi and Risasi as violations of journalists' right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds. These rights are guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 9 of the African Charter of Human and People's Rights, to all of which, we respectfully remind Your Excellency, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a signatory. CPJ urges Your Excellency to immediately and unconditionally release Idi and Risasi. We urge you to ensure the right of all journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo to report the news freely and without reprisal. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We welcome your comments.

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director



Join CPJ in Protesting Attacks on the Press in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Send a letter to:

His Excellency Laurent-Désiré Kabila
President of the Republic Ngaliema, Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of Congo
VIA FAX: 011-243-88-02120 / 1-202-234-2609