International PEN protests the five-week incommunicado detention of Nsimba Embete Ponte, editor of the Kinshasa-based newspaper L’Interprète. Embete Ponte has been held without any official explanation since his arrest on March 7, 2008. PEN fears that the editor has been detained simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the national constitution and international human-rights law. It calls on the Congolese authorities to either make known the charges against Embete Ponte and allow him access to his family and legal and medical assistance or release him immediately and unconditionally.

More information:

Human Right’s Watch Report
Further information on attacks against journalists in the DRC

Background Information

Nsimba Embete Ponte, editor of the privately owned Kinshasa newspaper L'Interprète, was abducted by unidentified armed men in the Masina district east of the capital on March 7, and detained in a secret location. His family eventually located him in a building used by the National Intelligence Agency near the prime minister's office in Kinshasa, but they have not been permitted to visit him. Embete Ponte has also been denied access to legal and medical assistance.

The official motives for Embete Ponte’s arrest and continuing detention remain unknown. According to the local free-press organization Journalists en Danger (JED), the editor had received threats following the publication of a series of February 2008 articles on President Kabila’s health. Another L'interprète employee, a member of the production team, was reportedly arrested by men in police uniforms on March 29, 2008 and has not been seen since.

Despite continuing human-rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including frequent imprisonment of and attacks on journalists, the mandate of the United Nations expert for the country was not renewed by the UN Human Rights Council at its last meeting in March 2008.

Write A Letter

  • protesting the arrest and detention of L'Interprète editor Nsimba Embete Ponte in apparent violation of his right to express his opinion freely in print, guaranteed by Articles 22-24 of the DRC Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the DRC is party;
  • insisting that five weeks’ detention without charge or trial is inadmissible under international legislation that guarantees the right not to be held in arbitrary detention and the right to be brought to trial within a reasonable period (Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)
  • calling for Embete Ponte to be freed either to face trial at a later date should he be charged with a criminal offense, or, if he is held in denial of his rights, that he be released without conditions;
  • urging that while he remains in prison, he be given full access to his lawyers, family, and medical attention.

Send Your Letter To

President
S.E. Joseph Kabila, Président de la République, Palais de la Nation, Kinshasa-Gombe, République Démocratique du Congo
Fax: +243 81 346 4116
E-mail: pr@presidentrdc.cd
Salutation: Dear President Kabila
 
Minister of Justice
Georges Minsay Booka, Ministre de la Justice, Ministère de la Justice, Place de l’Indépendence, Kinshasa-Gombe, République démocratique du Congo
Fax: +243 12 20 843
Salutation: Dear Minister
 
Minister for Human Rights
Eugène Lokwa Ilwaloma, Ministre des Droits humains, Ministère des Droits Humains, 33/C Boulevard du 30 juin, Kinshasa-Gombe, République Démocratique du Congo
E-mail: min_droitshumains@yahoo.fr
 
Please also send appeals to Congolese diplomatic representatives in your country.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after May 11, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org