27 February 1998


Newspaper editor-in-chief arrested; papers burned; journalists remain in detention

Incident details

Modeste Mutinga, Bonsange Yema



(RSF/IFEX) - According to RSF, on 25 February 1998, Modeste Mutinga,
editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Le Potentiel", was arrested by members of
the National Information Agency. Mutinga was detained at the National
Security Council (Conseil National de Securite) in Kinshasa. His arrest is
linked to a 19 February article entitled "Kabila's Kassai [inhabitants]
sulk" ("Les kasaiens de Kabila boudent"). The article described the concern
expressed by certain Kassai people close to those in power, when former
prime minister and opponent Etienne Tshisekedi returned to his village. On
18 February, prior to his arrest, several armed, uniformed men entered
Mutinga's home by force.

**This alert contains new cases and updates IFEX alerts noted below**

In separate case, on 20 February, copies of that day's edition of the
private newspaper "Le Soft", arriving from Belgium for sale in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, were seized at the airport in Kinshasa.
Authorities announced that they had burned the edition, which contained the
front- page headline "Tshisekedi, eternally persecuted", accompanied by a
1997 photo showing Etienne Tshisekedi surrounded by a crowd and a pro-Mobutu
army officer.

In separate cases, Bonsange Yema, editor-in-chief of the newspaper
"L'Alarme", remains in detention since his arrest on 7 February (see IFEX
alert dated 12 February 1998). Mossi Mwassi, correspondent of the Swahili
language services of the international broadcasters British Broadcasting
Corporation and Deutsche Welle in the Democratic Republic of Congo, also
remains in detention since his arrest on 3 December 1997 (see IFEX alert
dated 17 December 1997).

RSF notes that Zaire has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
article 19 of which guarantees the freedom to receive and impart

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • appealing to them to respect their international obligations and ensure
    they are respected by others
  • urging them to do everything possible to obtain the release of the three
    detained journalists, Modeste Mutinga, Bonsange Yema and Mossi Mwassi

    Appeals To

    Laurent-Desire Kabila
    President of the Democratic Republic of Congo

    c/o the diplomatic representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo in
    your country

    (in France)
    Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo
    Fax: +33 1 42 89 80 09

    (in Canada)
    Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo
    18 Range Road
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada K1N 8J3
    Fax: +1 613 747 9152

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris, France
    rsf (@) rsf.org

    Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
    Democratic Republic of Congo

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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