By :Jean Kassongo
MEDIA rights groups are enraged after the jailing of a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) newspaper editor who alleged a senior official in the sports ministry stole funds meant for the national football team.
Tharcisse Zongia, editor-in-chief of the satirical weekly Grognon, has been sentenced in absentia to one year in jail for defamation following his report Barthelemy Okito, secretary general of the ministry, embezzled the funds.
Activists believe instead of jailing the journalist, the government must investigate the public official over the article published in 2015.
“Allegations of embezzlement should be investigated by the authorities, instead of arresting the journalist who exposed the alleged crime,” the Journalists in Danger stated.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed disappointment Zongia’s arrest came despite his appeal for a higher court ruling.
“The government in the DRC must abolish criminal defamation in line with international precedent and not resort to jailing journalists when civil remedies are available,” CPJ Africa Coordinator, Angela Quintal, said.
Yves Luteke, the journalist’s lawyer, said Zongia had recently suffered a recurrence to a preexisting health condition and remained under police guard in the capital Kinshasa.
Luteke had since filed court papers challenging the legality of his client’s detention.
ICPFJ is a strong advocate for the freedom of expression and works actively against biased journalism. The center is also committed to its mission against extremism and is part of the fight against oppressive or tyrannical regimes running the affairs of countries.
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INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PROTECTION AND FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS