The Director-General of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has condemned last week’s assassination of a public television journalist by armed men in a central city of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I condemn the murder of Marcel Lubala,” Bokova said in a statement published in Paris. “Journalists must be able to carry out their mission of informing citizens without fear for their lives, and I count on the authorities of the country to carry out a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the text added.
The 59-year-old Lubala was shot dead by armed men on the night of 14-15 November in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of Kasai Oriental province, in the center of the country, he was a journalist with the Congolese National Radio Television (RTNC).
Journalists must be able to carry out their mission of informing citizens without fear for their lives, and I count on the authorities of the country to carry out a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The body of the journalist “is still in the morgue” of the city and “the date of the funeral is not yet fixed,” said Guy Robert Mulopo, provincial director of the RTNC in Kasaï-Oriental.
This assassination was condemned by several organizations which denounced the increase in “targeted attacks” against the press in the DRC. According to the provincial authorities of Kasai Oriental, an investigation has been opened on this case.
Congolese press advocacy NGOs and associations are challenging the fact that Mr. Lubala’s assassination took place when a curfew was declared in Mbuyi-Mayi from 10 pm to 5 am local time.
Mr. Lubala has been working at RTNC for 15 years, presenting a television program on hygiene and the environment. The DRC ranks 152nd out of 180 countries in the 2016 Reporters Without Borders ranking on freedom of information.
The DRC is undermined by a political crisis linked to the postponement of the presidential election. The government reached an agreement in October with a section of the opposition to keep incumbent Kabila in power ahead of polls slated for April 2018.
Under the terms of the agreement, Kabila who has been in power since 2001 and who is banned by the constitution from running for office, appointed a new prime minister last week. Opposition politician, Samy Badibanga, replaced Augustin Matata Ponyo who resigned earlier on in the week.