On the morning (local time) of Friday, October 19, five journalists were reportedly illegally taken from their homes by police officers in Kinshasa. According to local sources, the police officers did not show any documents or warrants. Officials have not yet commented on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Reports indicate the journalists were working for a newspaper based in the Republic of the Congo that was investigating a case of alleged embezzlement by security officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As of Monday afternoon, the whereabouts of the journalists remain unknown.
Acts of intimidation and aggression against journalists occur regularly in the DRC, which ranked 154 out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. On October 17, Reporters Without Borders called on Congolese authorities to release a journalist working for a local newspaper after she was arrested in Kinshasa on defamation charges on October 10.
Individuals present in the DRC are advised to exercise caution and maintain a low profile at all times. For these and other security reasons, a number of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the east and northeast of the country, as well as to the three central Kasaï provinces, due to poor security conditions, including the presence of armed groups and a high risk of kidnapping. Professional security advice should be sought prior to travel.
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