International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned in the strongest
terms the ruling of the Provincial High Court in Cankuzo Province in
sentenced to life imprisonment Hassan Ruvakiki, a journalist with Bonesha radio
and a local correspondent of Radio France International.
to the Union of Burundi Journalist (UBJ), an IFJ affiliate, the court convicted
the journalist with “terrorism” based on the accusations which had been leveled
against him for interviewing a rebel leader and broadcasting the interview.
“This is a
shocking ruling which has no basis whatsoever and our colleague is a victim of
a gross miscarriage of justice,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa
Office. “Hassan has never engaged in illegal acts designed to endanger the
lives of the Burundian citizens by broadcasting an interview that he had
conducted. He has performed his professional duties based on the citizens’
right to know and should not be condemned on these bogus charges of terrorism.”
had dismissed the charges against Hassan Ruvakiki as trumped up accusations and
said that his trial was marred by deep flaws of due process.
judicial process in the case of our colleague was a travesty of justice from
start to finish, with the sole purpose of intimidating the independent media in
Burundi,” added Baglo.
also condemned the ruling, saying that the judge paid no attention to the defence’s compelling case.
believe that our colleague has no case to answer and we are deeply disappointed
by this verdict,” said UBJ President Alexandre Niyungeko. “We look to the
Appeal Court to set aside this ruling and free Hassan.”
verdict was also criticised by the Eastern Africa Journalists
Association (EAJA) Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman who described it “a cruel
and a blow to press freedom in the region”. “The arrest and the whole trial
were politically motivated and the verdict is a great affront to press
freedom,” added Osman.
was arrested in November 2011 by the security forces after he had interviewed
an opponent of President Pierre Nkurunziza in neighbouring Tanzania.
For more information contact the IFJ on
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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in