Saturday, June 8, 2013

DR Congo : Jailing Journalists.

The Mail & Guardian ( Africa ) reports

( I missed this when it happened and was looking for a Ugandan story when I stumbled over this) . 

Jailed editor of DRC newspaper 'not a criminal'

                                                                Joachim Diana Gikupa

The editor of a daily newspaper in the Democratic Republic of Congo has begun serving a six-month jail term after being convicted of criminal libel.

Joachim Diana Gikupa was taken into custody last week. He was charged with defamation after publishing an article in his Kinshasa-based newspaper, La Colombe, in February last year which reported that a Chinese company was selling expired medication.

Actually on no independent evidence I can find I tend to think that I believe Joachim Gikupa. 

The company, Gen Taï, denied the allegations and filed a complaint against Gikupa.

This is just strange. A guy being sent to jail over something as inconsequential as this. I assume that should his whistle blowing turn out to be correct and Gen Tai end up killing someone then not only the company but the DR Congo Justice Ministry will also be held criminally liable and further more the magistrate who allowed this travesty of justice to happen will be criminally answerable for his negligence.

The Committee to Protect Jour­nalists has called on the DRC to release the journalist on bail pending his appeal and argued that the paper was reporting on an issue of public interest.

Exactly. The usual practice is to print a retraction should a story not stand up to scrutiny along with a fine. Jailing a guy for doing his job is bloody insane.

Mohamed Keita, the committee's Africa advocacy co-ordinator, said: "We urge the DRC to refer matters of defamation to civilian tribunals. Critical journalists are not criminals." 

The problem of course is Kabila. Every act of dissension is viewed as an attack on the state. 

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