CIVICUS

MonitorbetaTracking civic space

Republic of the Congo

Live rating: Repressed

Last updated on 05.11.2018 at 12:41

Republic of the Congo-Overview

Civil society is a hugely contested space in the Republic of the Congo.

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Libération provisoire du journaliste Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba après 18 mois de détention provisoire

Libération provisoire du journaliste Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba après 18 mois de détention provisoire

Le 2 juillet 2018, la Chambre correctionnelle de la Cour d'appel de Brazzaville a ordonné la libération provisoire du journaliste Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba, directeur du journal indépendant Talassa, après avoir passé 18 mois en détention provisoire.

Expression

Le 13 septembre 2018, le Conseil supérieur de la liberté de communication (CSLC), le régulateur national des médias, a suspendu pendant un mois la publication du bimensuel Le Troubadour. Le journal est accusé « d'utilisation de moyens déloyaux pour obtenir des informations ou des documents et de récidive dans l'inobservation des normes éthiques et déontologiques. » Les accusations portent sur l'article Clément Mouamba préside un Conseil de cabinet contre...les antivaleurs voulues par le chef de l'État publié le 11 septembre.

Le 2 juillet 2018, la Chambre correctionnelle de la Cour d'appel de Brazzaville a ordonné la libération provisoire du journaliste Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba, directeur du journal indépendant Talassa, après avoir passé 18 mois en détention provisoire. Comme signalé précédemment sur le Monitor, Fortuné Dombé Bemba avait été arrêté arbitrairement le 11 janvier 2017 pour « complicité pour attenter contre la sécurité de l'État » en raison de la publication d'un article sur de hauts responsables de l'armée comprenant des commentaires du pasteur Ntumi, ancien chef rebelle (également connu comme Frédéric Bintsamou) recherché par les autorités pour des actes terroristes . Le 12 janvier 2017 le journal indépendant Talassa a fait l'objet d'une « interdiction permanente ».

Association

Thousands of CSOs operate social support, advocacy and research projects right across the country. The authorities however regularly reject applications from organisations aiming to fight corruption or promote the rights of LGBTI people.

Thousands of CSOs operate social support, advocacy and research projects right across the country. The authorities however regularly reject applications from organisations aiming to fight corruption or promote the rights of LGBTI people. At the same time, many pro-government CSOs were registered to ‘counterbalance’ a civil society platform calling for presidential term limits to be respected during a constitutional referendum in 2015. Some CSOs also face threats, violence and other bureaucratic impediments to carrying out their work. In this context, a number of new citizen movements have emerged. Formed out of a sense of frustration amongst young people, these movements make effective use of social media and have support bases amongst the youth in urban areas. The Ras-Le-Bol citizen movement has been organising in poor areas of Brazzaville since 2013, running film screenings and other events to self-fund its activities. Its calls for far-reaching political reforms led to the arbitrary arrest of several of its leaders on charges of disrupting public order and conducting unauthorised demonstrations, before their release just prior to elections in 2016.


Peaceful Assembly in Republic of the Congo

A need for prior approval, arbitrary denials of permission and heavy handedness by police are some of the main barriers to the freedom of peaceful assembly in the Republic of the Congo.

A need for prior approval, arbitrary denials of permission and heavy handedness by police are some of the main barriers to the freedom of peaceful assembly in the Republic of the Congo. Protest organisers must get permission from the Ministry of the Interior or the police before gathering in public. In the case of pro-government or politically neutral events, these approvals are routinely granted. Protests aimed at calling for political change or criticising the authorities are regularly prevented by the authorities. Trade union marches and pickets are also tightly controlled. The police – both uniformed and in plainclothes – disrupt peaceful marches, sometimes using excessive force to disperse crowds. For example, student protests in June 2015 in Brazzaville were forcibly disrupted by the authorities, while similar treatment greeted protests calling for the constitution to be respected in the run up to elections in 2016.


Expression in Republic of the Congo

Section 19 of the 2002 constitution guarantees freedom of expression. However, its exercise is severely restricted by the authorities. The domestic media sector is dominated and controlled by the state, and many journalists working for private outlets practise self-censorship.

Section 19 of the 2002 constitution guarantees freedom of expression. However, its exercise is severely restricted by the authorities. The domestic media sector is dominated and controlled by the state, and many journalists working for private outlets practise self-censorship. All media organisations must register with the Conseil Supérieur de la Liberté de la Communication, which exercises constant censorship over the media. The authorities in Congo periodically suspend newspapers and radio stations for carrying content which is critical of the government. The consequences of independent reporting can also include violent attacks, as happened to Elijah Smith in September 2014 and three journalists covering the elections in 2016. People in the Republic of the Congo can access international media, which are widely disseminated throughout the country although citizens and journalists do not benefit from an access to information law, and obtaining official information from the government is a laborious process. While there is no formal limit on the Internet, the authorities closely monitor social networks and only 7% of people were online in 2014. During times of increased tension – for instance ahead of the controversial constitutional referendum in October 2015 – the authorities have imposed blocks on access to the Internet and prevented people from sending text messages in order to ‘prevent illegal reporting’ of election results.