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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora