The arrest and subsequent transfer to prison of journalist Stanis Bujakera in Kinshasa on September 8th, 2023, have triggered a wave of reactions, despite protests and numerous calls for his release, including one from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The Congolese Minister of Communication and government spokesperson has also commented on the situation.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congolese journalist Stanis Bujakera, who was detained by the police on September 8th, 2023, in Kinshasa, was transferred to the Makala prison in Kinshasa on September 14th.
He is suspected of offenses including “spreading false news and disseminating false information” due to an article published by Jeune Afrique that implicated military intelligence in the assassination of former minister Chérubin Okende. This information comes from the Congolese news site “actualite.cd”, where Stanis Bujakera serves as the deputy director of the publication.
The article, which was circulated in late August and not signed by Bujakera, was based on a confidential note purportedly from the civilian intelligence services (ANR). Congolese authorities later asserted that this document was fake.
During a press conference with Kinshasa journalists on Thursday evening, Patrick Muyaya Katembwe, the Congolese Minister of Communication and government spokesperson, expressed his concerns about the situation.
“Firstly, the regret you feel, I share it, maybe even more so than you do. It’s not good news when a journalist goes to prison. I won’t comment on the legal aspects of the case because I don’t have information on the judicial side. As you know, in the framework of the separation of powers, I’m not privy to what happens there. But what we are doing, we are doing with you, as you know, from the very beginning, we have been closely monitoring the situation,” said Patrick Muyaya.
Patrick further added, “We hope that the cases proceeding through the judicial system will be resolved promptly. Press freedom is crucial to us. It is a cornerstone of democracy, but it is also a freedom that does not grant a blank check, as is sometimes said, to misinformation or manipulation. That’s what I can say on this matter.”