News / Africa

Attacks on Press Freedom Continue in DRC

A M-23 rebel fighter walks with his rifle as they withdraw from Goma, December 1, 2012.
A M-23 rebel fighter walks with his rifle as they withdraw from Goma, December 1, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Attacks on the media continue to increase in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the M23 rebels have been fighting against the army in the eastern part of the country.  Media advocacy groups express concern over the arrests of journalists and censorship of the press,  both of which have increased over the past year.  Media Monitoring Africa said press freedom in general is under attack in countries where there is continued instability.  

William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, said the attacks on press freedom in the DRC are a major concern, because there are more and reports of such instances occurring.

“For example, we were doing some work in some of the bordering countries in Burundi and Uganda a few months ago, and things were a lot more stable, and certainly the views we were getting then from our colleagues in the journalism area there were that things weren’t nearly as bad then as they are now, and that was only at the start of this year.  So in a few short months, we’ve seen a fairly rapid deterioration of media freedom and the impact on media in the DRC.”

According to reports, media attacks on journalists and on press institutions occur in various forms, from arrests, to personal attacks, to the ransacking of press buildings.

“Well, we know about some of the journalists that have been personally attacked and harassed.  We’ve also seen it against particular media institutions.  But, I also think that some of it is about using more of a kind of structured means of simply preventing institutions from using their medium to either broadcast or produce their papers,” explained Bird, who added that he does foresee these types of attacks continuing as long as instability continues.

“It seems to be a fairly consistent theme to go and target media, and not only within the DRC. We saw that more recently in the Middle East, that the media was a formal target of military intervention, so I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t see something similar within the DRC," he said. 

Bird described how the continued attacks take their toll on the media’s ability to perform its job.

"Well, obviously they’re fairly devastating to the extent that it’s no longer a question of being able to say certain things and being biased, it’s about simply being able to perform their fundamental duties.  So clearly it has a very negative impact not only in the DRC, but also in the surrounding countries.  We know that in Uganda, for example, their media freedom is also under severe threat," he said. 

Bird pointed out that in many cases the government accuses the media of being biased, and therefore feels its means are just in going after them.

“They justify it in terms of issues around insults, around defamation," he said. "They accuse radio stations of sowing division, of fostering violence.  So it’s something that makes the lines quite blurred.  It’s not as though they admit to doing this as a means of preventing the media from doing their job, they usually try and put a very negative spin on it, and say these journalist were arrested because they are guilty of sedition, or they are accused of insulting people, unnecessarily of spreading hatred.”  

Bird also emphasized that people are sometimes left not knowing what to expect from either side.  However, he emphasized what they do know in many parts of Africa is who is telling the truth, because either the media or the governments may present only one side of a story, and that side does not add up to what people are actually experiencing.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid