Burundi: IFJ Highlights Plight of Journalists at UN

The International Federation of Journalists has highlighted the dire situation faced by Burundian journalists during a general debate held at the 32th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In a statement , the IFJ spoke of the clampdown which forced hundreds of journalists to flee Burundi since the start of the political crisis sparked by the decision of President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for a third mandate in April 2015.  The IFJ cited the killing of veteran cameraman Christophe Nkerabahizi of the public broadcaster RTNB by security forces in Bujumbura last October , the on-going harassment of many other journalists - even those in exile - such as AFP correspondent Esdras Ndikumana as well the destruction and closure of independent media premises. The IFJ's statement echoed the damning findings of the UN Commissionner for Human Rights' report, including violations of human rights such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions and torture blamed on police, intelligence services and ‘’anti-riot’’ brigades. The report also noted that at lest seven journalists who have fled the country face political charges and arrest warrants have been issued against them. The report made a number of recommendations to the Burundi government, urging the authorities to end violations of human rights and for UN mandated officials to investigate those who commit them. It also called for the review of all detention cases. Many delegations , including the European Union, Canada, Senegal, Croatia, Belgium, New Zealand and the United States, brought up the issue of media protection in Burundi and the fate of journalists who are in exile.

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