The Editor of the weekly satirical newspaper, Raymond Malonga, aged 60, was arrested on 2 February on libel charges following the publication of an article about the wife of a high ranking official in Congo Brazzaville. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns this deliberate act of intimidation and harassment against the Congolese media and calls for respect for journalists’ independence.
The satirical magazine Sal Piment, which is highly critical of the government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, was suspended several weeks ago by the country’s media regulator, High Council for Freedom of Communication (CSLC).
According to media reports, Raymond Malonga was arrested at a hospital in the capital city, Brazzaville where he was admitted for malaria treatment. He was taken to the capital’s main prison and held in a quarantine area for detainees with Covid-19.
Journalists’ unions and human rights groups condemned the arrest of Raymond Malonga as an act of intimidation to silence the media, ahead of the presidential elections on 21 March.
The General Secretary of the IFJ, Anthony Bellanger, said: “The IFJ condemns the arrest of Raymond Malonga, which seems to be a clear targeted reprisal for his work. We call on the Government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso to release him immediately and unconditionally and urge the authorities to guarantee freedom of information and expression before and during the incoming elections.”