Democratic Republic of the Congo: Editor sentenced to eleven months in prison for libel
English PEN protests the eleven month sentence served against Rigobert Kwakala Kash, editor of the twice-weekly Le Moniteur, on charges of libelling, insulting and spreading false rumours. PEN condemns the use of criminal defamation laws against writers and journalists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and other countries around the world. It calls for a review of Rigobert Kwakala Kash’s case and for his unconditional release.
Rigobert Kwakala Kash, from Kinshasha, was arrested in the early morning of 11 January 2006 and taken to the headquarters of the General Directorate for Intelligence and Special Services. Afterwards, he was transferred to the central prison in Kinshasa, where he was notified that the Kinshasa/Kasa-Vubu neighbourhood court had sentenced him on 6 January 2007 to eleven months in prison.
The charges were levied by the governor of south-eastern Bas-Congo, Jacques Mbadu Situ, for articles Kwakala published between November and December 2006, regarding alleged embezzlement of public founds. As a result of a separate complaint for the same case, the day before Kwakala’s arrest, the license of Le Moniteur was suspended for six months by the High Authority for the Media, an official regulatory body.
For more information on the case go to the web site of Journaliste En Danger http://www.jed-afrique.org/full_view.php?id_alerte=617 or the International Freedom of Expression Exchange site http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/80331
PEN is campaigning against the use of criminal defamation laws world-wide as being a serious threat to freedom of expression. It notes that journalists who are reporting on corruption are particularly liable to be sentenced, and there are fears that such laws are being used to silence legitimate criticism. It considers civil laws that do not bear with them the threat of imprisonment as being more appropriate avenues through which complaints of libel can be addressed. It also sees the often extraordinarily heavy fines levied by both criminal and civil courts in defamation cases as having a general chilling effect on journalists and writers ability to report freely. For further information on PEN’s current Insult and Defamation Campaign click here.
Please send appeals:
– Urging the DRC authorities to review the decision to impose a prison sentence on Rigobert Kwakala Kash and calling for his unconditional release.
– Asking the DRC authorities to decriminalise offences such as libel, so that similar cases might be avoided in the future.
Send your appeals to:
H.E. Ambassador Atoki Ileka
Permanent Representative of
the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the UN
866 United Nations Plaza – Suite 511 – New York, N.Y. 10017 – USA
Tel: (212) 319-8061
Fax: (212) 319-8232
Son Excellence Joseph KABILA
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
You may find it most effective to ask the DRC representative in London to forward your appeal to the President. Her address is:
H.E. Mrs Eugenie Tshiela Compton
281 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8QF
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/drceditorrijobertkwalalakashse/