Prosecuted for simple alleged defamation, a director of publication was arrested while he was hospitalized. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounces unfair methods, illegal detention, and calls for his immediate release.
Difficult to see anything other than a targeted reprisal measure. Raymond Malonga , well-known press cartoonist in Congo and director of publication of Sel-Piment , a satirical newspaper very critical of the government, was arrested by men in civilian clothes on his hospital bed on Tuesday February 2.
According to information obtained by RSF, the journalist was hospitalized for a malaria crisis in a clinic located near his home in Brazzaville when agents from the Central Intelligence and Documentation (CID, ex-DGST), landed for the hospital. ‘to challenge. He is currently being held in a space dedicated to people placed in quarantine due to the Covid-19 epidemic at the remand center in the country’s capital. This arrest would follow summons that the journalist would not have honored.
At the origin of this case, the reproduction, by the journalist in the January 18 edition of Sel-Piment , of an article from the Sacer Infos Congo site which related accusations of embezzlement on the part of Georgette Okemba, the wife of Jean-Dominique Okemba, known as “JDO”. The latter is the nephew of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has accumulated 36 years in power and who is vying for a new term in the presidential election scheduled for March 21. Very powerful by virtue of his proximity to the Head of State, he heads the Congo National Security Council, which heads all the country’s civil and military services.
Having a journalist arrested on his hospital bed by intelligence services for simple alleged defamation acts as if he were a dangerous terrorist clearly demonstrates the political and punitive nature of this decision,” denounces the official of the RSF Africa office, Arnaud Froger. The texts in Congo are very clear: they do not authorize the detention of journalists for simple acts of defamation when they have not already been the subject of a final conviction. A few weeks before the presidential election, this arrest sends a very negative signal and confirms the great fragility of the environment in which Congolese journalists operate. RSF calls for the release of this journalist in accordance with the texts in force. ”
RSF has also learned from several sources that Sel-Piment has been the subject of a precautionary measure by the Superior Council for Freedom of Communication (CSLC). Contacted on several occasions, the media regulatory body did not respond to our organization’s requests concerning this decision and the arrest of Raymond Malonga.
If the detentions of journalists remain relatively infrequent in the Congo, they sometimes take on a very political color and reflect the regime’s very strong hostility against the country’s most bitter journalists. The circumstances of Raymond Malonga’s arrest are sadly reminiscent of those of the director of the independent weekly Talassa Ghys Fortuné Bemba whose publication was suspended on the eve of his arrest by the intelligence services on January 11, 2017. The journalist was released. after 18 months of detention at the end of an intense campaign of mobilization, in particular carried out by RSF. When he was released from prison, he had to leave his country for security reasons. In his bookFrom Hell to Freedom published in 2019, he testified to the in which he had been detained: placement in complete isolation without the possibility of speaking with the guards, absence of toilets, water and electricity in his room. cell, food deprivation …
Congo occupies 118th place out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index established in 2020 by RSF.
Copyright ©2016, Reporters Without Borders. Used with the permission of Reporters Without Borders(RSF), CS 90247 75083 Paris Cedex 02 https://rsf.org
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