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Murder of Congolese journalist sparks outrage from UNESCO chief

Murder of Congolese journalist sparks outrage from UNESCO chief

Serge Maheshe
Condemning the recent murder of Congolese radio journalist Serge Maheshe, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today called on authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to ensure that the crime does not go unpunished.

Adding his voice to those of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC) in speaking out against the murder of Mr. Maheshe, who worked at the country’s most popular radio station, Radio Okapi, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said that “a famous voice in the DRC has been silenced.”

Calling on Congolese authorities to do everything possible to find and punish those responsible for the murder of the 31-year-old, Mr. Matsuura said, “it is essential that media professionals, the true pillars of democracy, are protected and that crimes against them do not go unpunished.”

Maheshe, who had worked for Radio Okapi since 2003, was shot dead on 13 June by two men on a street in Bukavu, in eastern DRC, as he and two friends were about to enter a UN-marked vehicle. His friends were not injured in the attack.

Radio Okapi is a partnership between MONUC and the Hirondelle Foundation, a Swiss non-governmental organization (NGO).

According to UNESCO – tasked with defending press freedom worldwide – Maheshe is the third Congolese journalist to be murdered since November 2005. Bapuwa Mwamba, from daily newspaper Le Phare, was killed at his home by three armed men in July 2006. Franck Kangundu, a journalist for La Référence Plus, was killed with his wife in November 2005.