Continuing attacks on Congolese journalists draw concern from UN mission

2 August 2007

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today denounced the recent series of attacks on journalists in the troubled country, especially those working for a UN-backed radio station with the largest Francophone audience in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the latest incident, four men attacked Florian Barbey, a journalist with Radio Okapi on Sunday night in his home in Bunia, the capital of the restive Ituri province in the northeast of the DRC. The reporter was beaten and the house was ransacked.

Radio Okapi is a partnership between the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, and the Hirondelle Foundation, a Swiss non-governmental organization (NGO), and the two bodies issued a joint statement today in Kinshasa condemning the ongoing attacks.

The work of journalists in the DRC “is essential to the security of the whole Congolese population and to the good running of a society striving to consolidate a nascent democracy,” the statement said.

MONUC and the Hirondelle Foundation called on the Congolese judiciary and civil authorities to do all they can to ensure the safety of journalists and to apprehend and punish those people responsible for the recent wave of attacks.

On 13 June, Serge Maheshe, who also worked for Radio Okapi, was shot and killed by two men on a street in Bukavu, in the far east of the DRC, as he and two friends were about to enter a UN-marked vehicle.

Meanwhile, MONUC has also deplored an attack against four of its military observers yesterday by a hostile crowd of about 500 people in Moba in Katanga province.

After throwing stones towards MONUC vehicles, the crowd sacked the observers' home, ransacking the residence and injuring the observers.

 

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