The Congolese Constitution protects freedom of the press through its articles 23 and 24. These provisions are in accordance with the international instruments to which the DRC is party in the field of human rights in general especially the provisions 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 9 of the African Charter on people Human Rights, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, the Munich Charter, etc) considered as part of the legal framework applicable in the DRC. More specifically, the freedom of the press is governed in the DRC by Law No 96-002 of 22 June, 1996 laying down the procedures for the exercise of this freedom. This legal framework is supplemented by:
- Leganet website (www.leganet.cd);
- Larciers Codes, Democratic Republic of Congo, Volume VI, Public and Administrative Law, Vol. 1- Public Law, Editions Africa, pp 310-370, 392-475;
- Larciers Codes, Democratic Republic of Congo, Volume VI, Public and Administrative Law, Vol. 2- Administrative Law, Editions Africa, pp 310-370, 392-475, pp 15-47, 356-380;
- Organic Law n° 11/001 of 10 January, 2011 on the composition, attributions and functioning of the Superior Council of Audiovisual and Communication (CSAC, which is the public institution for media regulation in DRC);
- Directives and Decisions of the Superior council of audio-visual and the communication.
The legal framework on freedom of the press in the DRC is therefore abundant. Still, it does not promote a real freedom of criticism for the media because of the constraints contained in the penal code. This code seems to protect the honor and reputation of individuals, especially political and military leaders, to the detriment of the public's right to information. Offenses such as "defamation" or "harmful imputations", "spreading false sounds", outrages on the Head of State etc, are provided for and punished by the Penal Code to intimidate the media and deprive them of any freedom of criticism. Journalists are thus prosecuted and sentenced to prison whenever a person (generally a political or military leader) tells the court that the journalist's article has harmed his honor.
The DRC does not have a specific national policy in the field of public information. Each of the media develops programs that seem to him the most profitable. The obligation given by the 1996 and 2011 laws to reset every 4 months the programmes they want to develop to the regulatory authority is generally not followed because of the weakness of this institution and because of corruption. The consequence is that the programs broadcast by all these media are opportunistic.