Burundi : Journalist languishes in jail for six months under trumped up charges

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined its affiliate in Burundi, l’Union Burundaise des Journalistes (UBJ), in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Floriane Irangabiye who is serving a ten-year jail term, following her arrest six months ago and her conviction in January 2023 over "undermining the integrity of the national territory."

Source : IFJ

Floriane Irangabiye was arrested on 30 August by agents of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) upon her return to Burundi from Rwanda for a family visit. She was sentenced by the Mukaza High Court on 10 January to ten years imprisonment and a fine of 1 million Burundian francs. 

The journalist works for the online radio Igicaniro set up by young Burundians who live in exile in Rwanda. The radio has been critical of the Burundian government and organises debates on politics, economics and culture. Irangabiye was accused of ‘Undermining the integrity of the national territory’ under Article 611 which states: "Anyone who, outside the cases provided for in Articles 613 and 614 has undertaken by any means whatsoever to undermine the integrity of the national territory shall be punished by a penal servitude of five to ten years and a fine of one to three million Burundian Francs."

According to the IWACU online newspaper, Irangabiye's case was marred by irregularities, procedural flaws and failure to respect the laws. It seems that there is an invisible hand that is pulling the strings. The decisions seem to come from elsewhere but not from the court."

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said that "the imprisonment of Floriane Irangabiye by the Mukaza High Court is a travesty of justice, a deliberate negation of the rule of law and a callous attack on freedom of expression and media freedom.  She has not committed any offence in the exercise of her duties as an online radio host that anchors debates on the political and economic situation in Burundi."

The IFJ calls for the judgement and the fine against Irangabiye to be quashed for her immediate and unconditional release. The Federation urges the Burundian Government to repeal all the laws that pose a threat to freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information in accordance with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information which was adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2019.

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