On July 13, Joseph Kazadi Kamwanga, a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) journalist, was arrested and detained alongside his colleague Nicholas Niarchos, an American journalist who works with The Nation and The New Yorker.
Kamwanga and Niarchos were arrested by the state intelligence service, l’Agence Nationale de Renseignement (ANR), in Lubumbashi, in the south of DRC.
While Niarchos was freed and left the country on July 18, after five-and-a-half days of detention, his colleague Kamwanga still remains in detention. IPI confirmed Kamwanga’s continued detention with local press rights groups Journalistes en Danger (JED) and Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse en Afrique (OLPA).
It is unclear what led to their arrest and detention. No charges have been leveled against them. According to Niarchos, he was duly accredited to report in the country. Kamwanga, too, is an accredited journalist in DRC.
However, they were arrested while they were set to conduct interviews on mining sector activities in the region. Other reports also indicated that the journalists established contact with an armed group, Bakata Katanga, as part of their work. Reports have suggested that the authorities may have been displeased with the coverage on mining activities and the contact established by the journalists with different actors involved in the governance of the mining activities in the region.
Local human rights defense groups such as Association Congolaise pour l’Accès à la Justice (ACAJ) welcomed the release of Niarchos but have also demanded the release of Kamwanga. The national umbrella organization of journalists, Union Nationale de la Presse Congolaise (UNPC), equally called for his release of Kamwanga, and also condemned the arrest and continuing detention as a double standard.
“The UNPC Katanga denounces the policy of double standards and asks the ANR director to release the Congolese journalist Kazadi Kamwanga‘’, the UNPC’s Katanga chapter said in a statement.
IPI joins local DRC press and human rights groups calling on the authorities to release Kamwanga immediately. Furthermore, we urge the authorities to respect and uphold press freedom as constitutionally guaranteed in DRC as part of efforts aiming at promoting transparency, accountability and good governance in the country.
‘’Nicholas Niarchos and Joseph Kazadi Kamwanga shouldn’t have been arrested and detained in the first place’’, said IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen. ‘’The authorities should immediately release Joseph Kazadi Kamwanga and allow him to do his journalistic work without fear and hindrance.”