Concern about political tension and hostility to media on eve of election

first_img News Help by sharing this information News November 24, 2011 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Concern about political tension and hostility to media on eve of election RSF_en Follow the news on Democratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of CongoAfrica Democratic Republic of CongoAfrica Congolese reporter wounded by gunshot while covering protest in Goma to go further February 18, 2021 Find out morecenter_img Receive email alerts Organisation Journalist arrested on provincial governor’s orders With attacks on journalists and media continuing in the final run-up to the 28 November presidential and parliamentary elections and an opposition parliamentarian’s murder in Kinshasa adding to the tension, Reporters Without Borders appeals again to all parties to do their best to ensure that the elections are not marred by violence and that media freedom is respected.“The initial results of the media monitoring by Journalist in Danger, our local partner organization, are quite clear,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They show beyond any doubt that, as well as attacks on journalists and repeated closures of news outlets, many media are being turned into propaganda tools, thereby heightening the tension in a climate that has already worsened dramatically in recent weeks.“In the light of this disturbing assessment just a few days before the polls, we reiterate our appeal to all sectors of Congolese society and political life to do their utmost to ensure that the next week passes off as calmly as possible. We remind the authorities that respect for the independence of the media and journalists is essential if proper elections are to be held.”Media closed, journalists targetedErnest Miyambo, the administrator of Kabambare (in the east-central province of Maniema) ordered the closure of Radio Communautaire Tujenge Kabambare (RCTK) on 18 November, thereby usurping a prerogative of the High Council for Broadcasting and Communication (CSAC), which alone has the power to take such decisions.The closure was prompted by the broadcast of an interview with the leader of a former armed self-defence group which Miyambo called an “incitement to revolt.” He also ordered the arrest of RCTK manager Kabuana Mukelenge, who has gone into hiding.The CSAC suspended all broadcasts by Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV) from 7 to 15 November for broadcasting controversial statements by opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi, who declared himself already president and called on his supporters to “break down the gates of the prisons.”Five radio stations based in the southeastern province of Katanga – Radio Télé Jedidja (RTJ), Radio Fondation Thérèse Lukenge Kapuibwe, Radio Communautaire de Kapolowe, Radio Rocher du Salut and Radio Plein Evangile – were closed without prior warning on 18 November by Brigitte Luta, the administrator of Kambove.It turned out that the closure order was issued by Mulanya Ilunga, the head of the provincial communications and media department, on the grounds that none of them had paid the required 15,000 US dollars for a broadcasting licence. Representatives of each of the stations had been summoned on 17 November and asked to pay this sum without delay.Most Congolese community radio stations cannot afford to pay for a licence and continue operating regardless. This does not seem to have been the best moment to close them down in such a summary manner, given the imminence of the elections and the local population’s interest in their electoral coverage.Aside from the closure of local news outlets, some international media may also find themselves prevented from covering the elections because the authorities refuse to give them visas or fail to issue them in time. The regional newsweekly Jeune Afrique reported in an editorial on 20 November that it has been unable to send someone to cover the elections for this reason. The Congolese authorities have denied preventing Jeune Afrique from entering the country.Attacks and security threatsAs well as administrative sanctions violating media freedom, journalists are also exposed to serious security problems. Antoine Tshiyenge of Jua TV, a station based in the Katangan capital of Lubumbashi, was beaten up by members of the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) on 14 November when he responded to an invitation to cover a demonstration by several parliamentarians at the party’s headquarters. He said they attacked him after identifying him as Jua TV reporter.The day before, one of his colleagues, Junior Nyembwe, was beaten up by members of UNAFEC, a party allied with the PPRD, while covering a rally at the Vita Club football club. Jua TV cameraman Freddy Kalume had previously been attacked and beaten on 7 November by angry PPRD supporters, who took his camera.In a response to the decline in security conditions for the media, around 100 vests with the word “PRESS” have been distributed to journalists by Reporters Without Borders and Journalist in Danger (JED). Journalists are often collateral victims when force is used to disperse the demonstrations they are covering, and the vests aim to make them more easily identifiable to the security forces. Examples of the vest were formally presented to the police inspector general at a ceremony today in Kinshasa.According to the initial findings of JED’s media monitoring during the election campaign in Kinshasa, TV coverage is “flagrantly biased” in favour of the candidates of the parties with which the TV stations are variously identified, and is characterized by “frenetic propaganda” and statements bordering on “incitement of hatred and violence.”JED appealed to the CSAC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on 18 November to caution the media against becoming propaganda tools and straying from their core mission to provide information. Photo : Official presentation of the vests by JED in Kinshasa on Nov 24th. Reporter jailed in DRC for allegedly defaming parliamentarian February 24, 2021 Find out more News February 16, 2021 Find out more Newslast_img read more

Elections cannot be democratic without freedom of information

first_imgNews Journalist loses accreditation over report about Tajikistan’s president Receive email alerts News Follow the news on Tajikistan Tajikistan holds parliamentary elections on 1 March and Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the toxic climate in which news organizations are forced to work in the country, noting that democratic elections cannot take place unless there is freedom of information. More than 4 million voters are called to the polls to choose 63 members from among 288 candidates. Although the vote has the appearances of democracy, the dire state of freedom of information surrounding the ballot is indicative of the draconian behaviour of President Emomali Rakhmon, who has been in office since 1992. Tajikistan is ranked 116th of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. “There can be no democracy without media pluralism and without free access to news and information,” Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, pointed out.“It should be noted that freedom of information continues to deteriorate in Tajikistan, to the point where it is a cause of considerable concern on the eve of the elections. We urge the authorities to ensure Tajik citizens have the right to report and receive news and information. We call on the international community to remind Dushanbe of its commitments and hold it to account for the large-scale violations of this basic democratic principle.”Campaign marked by bullying tacticsSeveral independent journalists have told Reporters Without Borders they have received threats from the intelligence services in the weeks leading up to the vote. They have been warned in emails and text messages to “stop writing critical stories” or face public exposure of their private lives. A smear tactic that points to the existence of a vast surveillance system in the country. Other independent journalists have been the targets of campaigns to discredit them in the official media and on social networking sites, often also using elements from their private lives. In one recent instance, a report by the State TV station TVT accused some independent news organizations of supporting the mayor of Dushanbe in exchange for benefits in kind, such as apartments or land. In a joint statement on 16 February, the National Association of Independent Mass Media in Tajikistan (NANSMIT), the Journalists’ Union and the Media Council of Tajikistan called for an end to “attacks and moves aimed at intimidating and obstructing the professional activities of journalists”, the manipulation of the media for political ends and repeated intrusions into the private lives of independent journalists.Media pluralism underminedGiven the lack of media pluralism, the election campaign was bound to be dull and political competition one-sided. The authorities control almost all broadcasting outlets. Three campaign spots by the opposition party Islamic Renaissance of Tajikistan were barred from the airwaves on the grounds that they were not made in one of the few officially authorised studios. The appeal by convicted businessman Zayd Saidov, arrested and tried soon after he set up an opposition party in 2013, is being held in camera. Saidov, a former industry minister, was sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of sexual offences, polygamy, and fraud and corruption. The Asia Plus media group, which has a weekly, a news agency, a radio station, a television studio and a news website of record, is one of the few sources of independent news in Tajikistan. Access to its website has been regularly blocked inside the country in recent years. In spring last year, the weekly and its editor Olga Tutubalina were found guilty of insulting the country’s intellectuals in a farcical trial and ordered to pay the three plaintiffs 30,000 somoni (4,500 euros). The number of trials of independent journalists has risen in the run-up to the parliamentary elections Freedom of information targeted by paranoid authoritiesThe temporary blocking of access to social networks and independent news sites has been a frequent occurrence since 2012, yet in October 2014 access to more than 200 websites was cut off for two weeks, including Facebook, Vkontakte and YouTube, as well as the main Tajik, Russian and Central Asian news sites.Access was blocked soon after the opposition movement Group 24 announced it would hold an anti-government demonstration. It was restored a day after the event, which did not take place. This unprecedented blackout was accompanied by drastic restrictions on telecoms networks. Text messaging was suspended for several days and Internet access was cut off completely in the northern region of Sughd. Such disproportionate and oppressive responses stem from the authorities’ visceral fear of destabilisation, using the spectre of the civil war that tore the country apart between 1992 and 1997 to justify their fear of the opposition. Aleksandr Sodiqov, an academic and specialist in conflict prevention arrested in June last year, has paid the price for the authorities’ paranoia. The netizen’s only offence was to have interviewed an opposition leader in the autonomous south-eastern province of Gorno-Badakhshan as part of his research. The province was the scene of violent clashes in 2012, which were shrouded in secrecy. Accused of spying, he was held in custody for a month and was released only after a massive international campaign. Tajikistan imposes total control over independent broadcast media February 27, 2015 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Elections cannot be democratic without freedom of information Help by sharing this information RSF_en TajikistanEurope – Central Asia center_img to go further TajikistanEurope – Central Asia News NANSMIT, a partner organization of Reporters Without Borders, has published recommendations for journalists aimed at ensuring impartial and objective coverage of the elections. (Photo: AFP Photo / STR) #CollateralFreedom: RSF unblocks eight sites censored during pandemic Organisation November 6, 2020 Find out more May 14, 2021 Find out more News August 25, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more