IFJ Condemns Incitement to Violence Against Media by Interior Minister of Burundi

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed today grave concern about recent statements made by the Interior and Security Minister of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, encouraging the police forces that had perpetrated violence on journalists on April 17.

Various local media relayed Tuesday, the statements of Minister Evariste Ndayishimiye, which were uttered on Sunday in Rumonge (South-western). He declared that the Burundian President, Pierre NKURUNZIZA will "reward" the police officers responsible for the sequestration of journalists on April 17 at a Member of Parliaments’s house in Bujumbura. "I have said to the journalists that if police officers tell you "don’t cross this line" and you do it, they have the authorization to beat you", he added.

"Such statements coming from a Minister of Security are irresponsible and of an extreme gravity in the sense that they encourage police officers to perpetrate more violence on innocent journalists. This is a very dangerous trend, which can have negative consequences on the process of rebuilding the country" declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of the Africa Office of the IFJ.

Baglo added that "President Pierre Nkurunziza must, by a vigorous action disassociate himself from such statements by Minister Evariste Ndayishimiye expressed on behalf of the government, to intimidate the journalists and to choke the emerging democracy in the country".

Background: On Monday 17 April, while covering a press conference given by a Member of Parliament, Matthias Basabose in his residence, about 30 journalists were retained there against their will for more than 7 hours. About fifty police officers, armed with guns, surrounded the house of Mr. Basabose, and told the journalists that they had received orders from the presidential police force "not to allow anybody out ". Without any explanation the journalists were released around 11:00pm, being more than 7 hours of sequestration. Matthias Basabose organized this press conference after he was excluded from the presidential party, the CNDD-FDD, (the National Council for the Defence of the Democracy - Forces of Defence of the Democracy). Mr Basabose, accused the CNDD-FDD the week before of influencing the judiciary and to have unilaterally decided the attribution of public markets to get money for its finances.

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