In addition to being subjected to a wave of arrests, physical attacks and threats, journalists in the Central African Republic face the prospect of legislation being introduced that would criminalise press offences again.
While in police detention, CAR journalist and director of “Le Quotidien de Bangui” newspaper, Landry Ulrich Nguema Ngokpélé’s hotel room is raided and laptops seized.
French journalists Florent Vergnes and his AFP colleague Charles Bouessel were kicked, punched and arrested while covering a banned opposition demonstration in Bangui.
Independent French photojournalist Camille Lepage was only 26 years old when she was killed while covering the violence in the Central African Republic. Passionate about human rights and the underreported consequences of international conflicts, Lepage’s work has appeared in prestigious publications including “The New York Times”, “Le Monde” and “The Guardian”.
RSF calls on the authorities in the CAR to complete all necessary investigations into French photojournalist Camille Lepage’s murder, including a reenactment of the crime, in order to establish the facts of the case before it comes to trial.
Journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko were murdered in the Central African Republic when they went there to make a documentary on Kremlin-linked mercenaries.
The journalists were killed by unknown individuals while preparing to make a documentary about Russian mercenaries.
A leading community radio station, Radio Mbari, has been forced to close after being threatened by armed groups in the Central African Republic.
Radio Be Oko journalist Elisabeth Blanche died from injuries she suffered in an attack by the Séléka rebel coalition in the central town of Bambari in January last year.
Issued by Prime Minister André Nzapayéké’s with the aim of “restoring security throughout the country,” the ban follows a general strike call that, according to the Jeune Afrique news website, was circulated by SMS.
Lepage’s death comes as security in the Central African Republic is becoming increasingly precarious. On 29 April, two local journalists, Désiré Sayenga and René Padou, succumbed to the injuries they suffered during an attack by armed youths.
“Her horrific death shows the danger to which journalists are exposed as they try to report the news in the Central African Republic and other conflict zones.”
The Central African Republic’s current humanitarian crisis, which stems from ongoing political tensions between sectarian militant groups, sheds light on how recurrent waves of political violence have created conditions that endanger both the lives and profession of journalists in one of the most underdeveloped nations in the world.
A year after the Seleka coalition began its rebellion, reporters in the Central African Republic are still in danger despite the deployment of French and African peacekeepers. Some media outlets have been ransacked, while others have self-censored their reporting to prevent threats or attacks.