The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for immediate and unconditional release of Thierry Ndayishimiye, Director and Publisher of the private weekly magazine Arc-en-ciel, who was arrested on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 and detained at the central prison of Mpimba in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi.
“It is unacceptable to imprison a journalist for slander which in this case is not even proven”, said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “After the cas of Kavumbagu who is awaiting life imprisonment, this arrest manifestly shows the authorities are determined to muzzle the media in Burundi”.
The arrest of Thierry Ndayishimiye followed the publication by his newspaper of information that alleged embezzlement of public funds within REGIDESO, a national company in charge of the distribution of water and electricity in Burundi.
According to the Burundi Journalists Union (UJB) an IFJ affiliate, the officials of REGIDESO immediately filed a complaint in Court.
Thierry Ndayishimiye was charged for defamation and after three convocations by the Alternate Prosecutor of Bujumbura Ndayishimiye was arrested and imprisoned, without informing his lawyer.
The Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) through its General Secretary, Omar Faruk Osman called on the Burundian government to halt with immediate effect this culture of intimidation and persecution of journalists and media houses by adopting a culture of respect to due process of law, transparency and human rights.
The IFJ renews its call to the Burundian authorities to drop all charges against the journalists and immediately release those in prison and decriminalize libel for press freedom and freedom of expression to return to Burundi.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide