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Intelligence agents in the DRC shut down television channel

A man gets off a boat which was repaired in the port area of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, 31 March 2017
A man gets off a boat which was repaired in the port area of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, 31 March 2017

GRIFF TAPPER/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 23 March 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Democratic Republic of Congo's authorities to allow Radio Télévision Vision Grands Lacs (RTVGL), a TV channel based in Bukavu, in the eastern province of Sud-Kivu, to resume operating at once.

RTVGL has been off the air since 2 March 2018, when around ten members of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) raided its headquarters and disconnected its broadcast signal.

"The ANR has been demanding administrative documents from us for months," RTVGL director Fammy Mikindo told RSF. "We provided them but now they want to fine us 15,000 dollars for operating illegally. This is unacceptable."

"The cited administrative and financial reasons do not, by any measure, constitute grounds for closing down a TV channel," said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF's Africa desk. "Actions of this kind by the ANR pose a threat to the Congolese public's freedom to be informed. Such interference must stop. Journalists are not criminals."

This is far from being the only case of media censorship by the ANR. Just two days ago, on 21 March, four ANR agents arrested Roberto Tshahe, a journalist with the CAS-INFO news website, in Kinshasa for publishing an interview with Francis Kalombo - a former ruling party official now allied with opposition politician Moïse Katumbi - in which he cast doubt on President Joseph Kabila's Congolese nationality.

Tshahe was interrogated for four hours and then released, after being warned by the ANR agents that he would be jailed or forced into exile if he ever published anything on this subject again.

According to the latest report by the Congolese NGO Journalist in Danger, half of the press freedom violations registered in the DRC last year were carried out by members of the intelligence services.

The DRC is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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