By Mariona Sanz
Bujakera, a prominent Congolese journalist, director of Actualités.cd and correspondent for Reuters and French magazine Jeune Afrique, was arrested on the evening of 8th September at Kinshasa airport. He was formally detained on 11th September after spending three days in police custody. His telephones and laptop were also confiscated.
Bujakera was questioned about an article published in Jeune Afrique on 31st August about the murder of former transport minister, Chérubin Okende Senga, who was the spokesman of an opposition party. The story raised questions about the military intelligence’s possible involvement in the murder.
In April 2023, Congolese authorities enacted a new press law and digital code that criminalizes the sharing of information deemed “false”. However, since the article was signed by “News Staff” and did not carry Bujakera’s byline, according to the April law he cannot legally be held responsible for its content.
WAN-IFRA calls for the immediate release of Stanis Bujakera and for all charges against him to be dropped. Laws in the DRC should be swiftly reformed to prevent the criminalization of journalism and the jailing of journalists, and the authorities should stop harassing journalists and the news organizations they work for.
It is likely that pressure on journalists and the media will continue to intensify in the run-up to December’s presidential and general elections. Press freedom organisations like RSF and CPJ have documented cases of Congolese reporters who have been physically and verbally attacked at political events and threatened with legal proceedings.