Monday, 16 January 2012

Press Freedom just a Dream?

Written by Gael Masengi
Is Press freedom just a dream for broadcasters and publishers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? Yes, that’s whatI think. The country is no stranger to media freedom abuse, yet last year’s presidential and legislatives elections have shown just that! This week, the capital Kinshasa has witness “the witch hunt”, a systematic chasseon newspapers vendors.
Freedom For Journalist (FFJ), a country based media dog watch condemned in the strongest terms the crackdown and systematic chasse on streets newspapers vendors by security force on January 11th and 12th. According to information obtained from eye witnesses, the organisation stated that two pickup trucks full of hyper equipped policemen barged into the famous papers sale point of “Place Victoire” in Kinshasa before proceeding, without warning, to disperse the vendors, confiscate by force newspapers and arrest other. Newspapers sales have since been paralysed at the entire city.
Police accuses the vendors of causing the crowd to gather [and discuss politics], which is forbidden since the publication of elections results by the electoral body CENI. In Kinshasa, the tension is high, amplified the supposedly re-election of Joseph Kabila, contested by international observers, strongly rejected by the opposition and the Catholic Church, a powerful and influential institution in a Christian country. Newspapers vendors on their side have decided to go on strike in protest against the police’s cowardice actions.
The organisation invites police hierarchy to end this kind of operations which not only tarnish its image already damaged but also to release the detained vendors.
“FFJ condemn this restriction of information and remain in solidarity with all the newspapers vendors which contribute to the diffusion of information” declared a FFJ’s official.
While the country is in electoral hold-up caused by the fraud machine of National Electoral ‘Independent’ Commission (CENI), another tool causes chaos in media is the state run media regulatory agency Congolese Broadcasting and Communications Superior Council (CSAC).
RTLJ, a Lubumbashi (south-east) based TV station has been given seven days of suspension by the CSAC, the station is reproached by the notorious media regulatory of broadcasting insulting comments toward certain high personalities. The station denies all allegations made against it.
Congolese Media Observatory (OMEC) an independent press auto- regulatory qualifies the behaviour as anti-constitutional and demands an immediate reopening of all media outlets reduced to silence, the organisation calls CSAC to get out of its torpor and to regulate [fairly] and in accordance to its mandate.
For how long will the west continue to back an illegitimate government?

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