UN rights expert criticizes clampdown on media in Congo
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GENEVA — A U.N. expert on freedom of expression on Thursday accused the Congolese government of violating international human rights law with moves like jamming radio broadcasts and arresting journalists.
David Kaye cited a decree on Nov. 12 that bars international media from operating in Congo unless they sign an agreement with local media or set up an outlet under Congolese regulations.
In a statement, Kaye said the "silencing of critical voices through arrests, censorship and other forms of government control" threatens the stability of a country "already in a seriously fragile state."
He said five journalists were arrested and the signals of three media outlets were jammed last month.
Government officials could not be reached for comment Thursday. In recent weeks they have defended their treatment of the media, including those outlets whose signals have been cut.
In a statement on Nov. 14, government spokesman Lambert Mende accused Radio France Internationale of systematically reporting false information and said the U.N.-backed Radio Okapi was behaving in a "partisan" manner.
President Joseph Kabila's second term in office expires this month, but Congo's courts have ruled that the election can be delayed and Kabila can stay in power until a new leader is chosen.
A deal reached in October calls for the vote to be held in April 2018, though the largest opposition party rejected it.
Associated Press writer Saleh Mwanamilongo contributed to this report from Kinshasa, Congo.