Burundi: Four journalists sent to jail

Four Burundian journalists working for the Iwacu Press Group were sentenced to two years and six months in jail and fined one million Burundian francs (474 euros) on Thursday, 30 January for “undermining state security”. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands by its affiliate, the Union of Burundi Journalists (UBJ), and joins the Federation of African journalists in demanding the immediate release of the four journalists.

Four journalists of the Burundi's independent media Iwacu Press Group:(L to R) Agnes Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana, Terence Mpozenzi, and the driver Adolphe Masabarakiza appear at the High Court in Bubanza, western Burundi, on December 30, 2019 for complicity in endangering the internal security of the state. Credit: Tchandrou Nitanga / AFP

Agnes Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Terence Mponzenzi and Egide Hererimanan together with their driver Adolphe Masabarakiza were arrested on 22nd October 2019 in Musigati, as they were travelling to Bubanza in the north west of Burundi to report on clashes between the army and a rebel group from South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

On 31 October, the Bubanza tribunal charged the journalists with "complicity of undermining state security" and sent them to jail. Adolphe Masabarakiza was released by the Appeal Court on 20 November.

In a statement , the President of the UBJ, Alexandre Niyungeko, said: “We regret that media professionals are still condemned in our time for exercising their right to information. The condemnation of the four journalists is a strategy orchestrated by the authorities to control the narrative, especially on the eve of the presidential elections this year.”

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger, described the harsh sentencing of the journalists as a travesty of justice. “The citizens of Burundi have every right to know what is happening on the frontline with regards to the rebel activities in the western part of the country, and the media have every right to bring such information to the doorsteps of the citizens. We demand a complete review of this sentence and the immediate and unconditional release of our colleagues who were simply doing their jobs as journalists”.






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