A scandal surrounding the alleged import of substandard wheat flour in the Lower Congo has led to the arrest and imprisonment of two local journalists in what The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) believe is a “clear breach of their right to freedom of expression.”


Jules-Cesar Mayimbi, a journalist for the Kinshasa-based daily Forum, was arrested on 5 April at the behest of the company selling the 45,000 tonnes of flour, whose quality was questioned. Held at the Matadi prison in the Lower-Congo province, Mayimbi was charged with making harmful accusations.


Washington Lutumba, a journalist for Le Potentiel, was similarly arrested in relation to the same story.


In a letter to the government of the Congo, Roger Parkinson, president of the WAN, and Ruth de Aquino, president of the WEF, explained that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights notes that “detention, as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion, is one of the most reprehensible ways to enjoin silence and, as a consequence, a grave violation of human rights.”


The letter continued: “We respectfully call on you to ensure that [the two men] are immediately released from prison and that all charges against them are dropped. We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that in future the Democratic Republic of Congo fully respects its international obligations to freedom of expression.”