CPJ blasts DRC over journalist

Feb. 16, 2013 at 1:47 PM

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to release a journalist who was sentenced to six months in prison.

Joachim Diana Gikupa, editor of the newspaper La Colombe in Kinshasa, was found guilty of defamation charges and sentenced to jail time in December, the Committee to Protect Journalist said in a release. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in damages.

On Feb. 9, 2012, La Colombe published a report that alleged a Chinese company that managed a local hospital was selling expired medication, among other things.

His lawyers have filed an appeal, saying Gikupa was in poor health and should be released on bail.

"We condemn the Democratic Republic of Congo's continued use of criminal defamation charges to jail journalists for their critical reporting on issues of public interest," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita from New York. "Joachim Diana Gikupa should be released on bail pending his appeal, and we urge the DRC to refer matters of defamation to civilian tribunals. Critical journalists are not criminals."

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