DRC: Journalist Tatiana Osango Assaulted After Interview Criticizing President Felix Tshisekedi

By Committee To Protect Journalists

Photos: Tatiana Osango\YouTube Screenshots

Kinshasa, June 12, 2024—Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should impartially investigate the June 5 assault of broadcast journalist Tatiana Osango and ensure those responsible are held to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

Seven men used glass bottles to hit Osango, a reporter who presents a political program on the privately owned YouTube-based news channel Réaco News, on her mouth and leg at a restaurant in the capital, Kinshasa, according to multiple news reports and the journalist who spoke to CPJ.

Osango told CPJ that the men said they were members of Forces of Progress, an informal youth group claiming to be associated with the ruling party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). The assailants said they were acting on the orders of UDPS’s Secretary General Augustin Kabuya and were beating her because of her criticism of DRC President Felix Tshisekedi in an interview she hosted earlier that day with opposition politician India Omari.

Osango told CPJ that the interview with Omari focused on political developments and was critical of Tshisekedi’s proposals to amend DRC’s constitution. Osango was treated at a hospital in Kinshasa for a broken tooth, which had to be extracted, and injuries to her leg. She currently walks with a crutch.

“This attack against this broadcast journalist Tatiana Osango demonstrates the shocking levels of violence journalists can expect in the DRC,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Muthoki Mumo, in Nairobi. “The attack on Osango must be investigated, and those responsible held to account in a transparent process. This is the only way to end a culture of violence against journalists in the DRC.”

Osango did not report the incident to the police, saying she did not believe the police would investigate, given her prior critical reporting on the president and his political party.

The Forces of Progress have previously been accused of involvement in violence. In December 2023, Kabuya denied the group’s existence within the party’s structure.

CPJ’s calls and app messages to Kabuya, Kinshasa Police Chief Blaise Kilimbambalimba, and Patrick Muyaya, the information minister and national government spokesperson, did not receive a response.

CPJ has documented a difficult environment for the press in the DRC, characterized by physical attacks on journalists, arrests, and censorship.

In September 2022, supporters of opposition politician Martin Fayulu grabbed and scratched Osango on her breasts and other parts of her body. That attack took place while Osango was in the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, covering a meeting related to the parliament’s opening session.

In April 2024, the Superior Council of Audiovisual and Communication (CSAC), DRC’s media regulatory body, prohibited press organizations and journalists from covering or disseminating information concerning rebel groups without referring to official sources, a move denounced by professional media associations.

On May 15, the CSAC ordered the private channel Bosolo TV to suspend its program “Bosolo Na Politik Officielle” for one month because of critical remarks by host Israel Mutombo urging Congolese politician Christophe Mboso N ‘kodia, 83, to resign from his position due to his age.

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