Freedom of the Press

Congo, Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa)

Congo, Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa)

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

82

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

35

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

22

Statues provide for freedom of the press, but the government continues to sharply restrict the work of journalists through a variety of means. The 1996 Press Law prescribes the death penalty for reporters convicted of disseminating false news, insulting the army, demoralizing the nation, or betraying the state in time of war. Harsh criminal libel laws were used to convict, jail, and fine several journalists during the year. The number of private newspapers and radio stations--many of which are associated with and financed by political parties, military factions, or the Roman Catholic church--is growing, but the state-controlled broadcasting network reaches the largest number of citizens. Meanwhile, in areas under the control of the various rebel factions, independent media barely exist. Reporters continue to face frequent threats and intimidation, physical attacks, and arrest and detention at the hands of authorities. Rebels and other groups also threaten and attack journalists. According to the local watchdog group Journaliste en Danger, 33 journalists were arrested in 2002. Of these, 9 were detained in rebel-held territories, and 24 in regions under the government's control. Some of those detained were allegedly tortured while in custody. Official harassment also includes the censoring of sensitive news broadcasts and the seizure of newspapers. The financial viability of media outlets remains hampered by high production costs as well as high mandatory registration fees and broadcasting taxes.