11 October 2012

Congolese authority's attempt to ban poster overturned by Belgian court

Source: Journaliste en danger

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(JED/IFEX) - 4 October 2012 - Journaliste en Danger (JED) welcomes a decision made by the Belgian court, on 3 October 2012, to authorize a poster entitled "The Chebeya Scandal: A State Crime?" by Belgian filmmaker Thierry Michel. Michel had been sued by John Numbi - the former Inspector General of the Congolese National Police - for attacks upon his honour and dignity. Numbi also sought to have Michel's poster banned. The Belgian court declared Numbi's claim unfounded and ordered him to pay a sum of 1320 Euros to the journalist.

John Numbi was the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police. He is currently suspended from his duties because of a lawsuit against members of the national police over the murder of Floribert Chebeya - a prominent Congolese human rights activist - and his driver Fidèle Bazana. This lawsuit is currently pending on appeal before the Supreme Military Court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC.)

According to information received by JED, the court of Liège dismissed Numbi considering that "the film in question seems to provide good information on this murder case", and "as presented, that is to say with the title as a question, the poster represents an appropriate balance between, on the one hand, the implication of a public authority and their impunity, and other hand, the unanswered questions in this regard."

JED welcomes this great victory for press freedom and freedom of expression over the protection of the image of a public figure exercising his functions. With this turn of events, JED urges the Congolese authorities to remove all barriers blocking the entry of Michel into the DRC. JED also urges the authorities to allow for the dissemination of his documentary film.

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