Congo, Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa) | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Congo, Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa)

Congo, Democratic Republic of (Kinshasa)

Freedom of the Press 2009

2009 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • Two internal conflicts, in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and in the western province of Bas-Congo, contributed in 2008 to a deteriorating human rights situation, continued restrictions on media freedom, and government intimidation and violence aimed at journalists.
  • The law provides for freedom of speech, of the press, and of information, but these rights are restricted in practice by President Joseph Kabila’s government and various nonstate actors, including a rebel movement led by the Rwandan-backed commander Laurent Nkunda. Officials used an array of prohibitive licensing regulations, criminal libel laws, and “preventive detention” powers to restrict free speech and suppress political criticism.
  • On September 10, the minister of communications and media shut down five television stations in Kinshasa, alleging that they had failed to submit proper documents. Critics claim, however, that the move was designed to silence opposition voices, as three of the stations were owned by opposition politicians. By September 16, all but one of the stations were permitted to broadcast again.
  • At year’s end, journalist Popol Ntula Vita of La Cite Africaine newspaper remained in hiding; he had been charged with defamation in 2007.
  • Security forces and agents of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) harassed and arrested journalists throughout the year. Among other cases, police in January arrested a reporter with the magazine Les Grands Enjeux, Maurice Kayombo, for writing critically about the mining ministry; he was detained for 34 days. In November, ANR agents arrested for questioning five journalists with the private station Raga TV after it broadcast an appearance by an opposition politician; the journalists were held for one day.
  • Authorities raided several media outlets during the year. In July, ANR agents raided the private television station Tele Kindu Maniema and arrested one of its journalists, Mila Dipenge, following the station’s critical coverage of local politicians. In September, police raided Global TV and arrested its manager, Daudet Lukombo, after it aired an interview with an opposition politician; the manager was initially charged with “incitement to rebellion,” but was acquitted in October.
  • On November 21, a journalist with Radio Okapi, Didace Namujimbo, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen.
  • Impunity for crimes against the media is generally the norm, although on May 21 a military court in South Kivu province sentenced three civilians to death for the June 2007 killing of Serge Maheshe, the editor of Radio Okapi.
  • In April, authorities arrested a Belgian journalist for entering a mining area in Bas-Congo without the proper authorization.
  • The country boasts hundreds of private newspapers, radio channels, and television stations. The majority of the population relies on radio broadcasts for news.
  • The state operates two radio stations as well as a television station and an official press agency.
  • There are no reports that the government restricts internet usage or monitors e-mail, although access was limited to less than half of 1 percent of the population, mainly those in urban centers.