DRC prosecutor requests 20 year jail sentence for journalist News
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DRC prosecutor requests 20 year jail sentence for journalist

A prosecutor in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) requested on Friday a 20-year sentence in prison for Stanis Bujakera, a journalist on trial for an article implicating military intelligence in the death of an opposition politician, Chérubin Okende.

Bujakera was arrested last year on September 8 and is facing charges including spreading false information. Bujakera is a reporter for Jeune Afrique and Reuters. His arrest and trial were based on a report by Jeune Afrique claiming the death of Okende was a possible murder and not suicide, as reported by the government. The report also revealed a confidential note written by the internal security department of the National Intelligence Agency to its general administrator.

Article 211 of the DRC Penal Code prohibits individuals from intentionally sharing false news that is likely to disturb peace. Last year, the DRC parliament passed a new media law. Under the new law, authorities can imprison journalists for sharing “false” information electronically. Article 360 of the new Digital code provides for a one-to-six-month imprisonment term and a fine for dissemination of false information against a person through social networks. 

Following the prosecutor’s request, various human rights groups called on the government to release Bujakera immediately and unconditionally. Among the groups are Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International. Jeune Afrique has also posted a video of its employees on X (formerly Twitter) calling for Bujakera’s immediate release.

Amnesty International issued a statement concerning the detention of Bujakera, with Deputy Regional Director Sarah Jackson saying that:

The release of Stanis Bujakera is well overdue. His continued arbitrary detention is tantamount to judicial harassment, intended to send a chilling message to other journalists and all free voices in the DRC. This travesty must end. DRC authorities must immediately release Stanis Bujakera. President Tshisekedi and his government must ensure the release of Stanis Bujakera and media freedom, as well as uphold the country’s international human rights obligations and address the flaws of the judicial system that lead to such injustices too often.