Panafrican News Agency

NGOs denounce condemnation of four reporters in Burundi

Paris, France (PANA) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Amnesty International have denounced the conviction by Burundian courts of four journalists from the Iwacu media and asked the newly elected Burundian president to end the systematic repression of the media and claiming that this sentence strikes a blow to press freedom in the country.

Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi and Egide Harerimana, four Burundian reporters of Iwacu, one of the last independent media in Burundi, were arrested on 22 October  2019 after trying to cover the surprise attack by a group of Burundian rebels based in eastern DR Congo and opposed to the regime of President Pierre Nkurunziza, were sentenced on Thursday by Bubanza Court of Appeal, located in northwestern Burundi.

The court sentenced the four journalists to two and a half years in prison, together with a fine of one million Burundian francs (around 482 euros) for "attempting to commit an assault on state security" imposed at first instance on January 30.


The charges had been reclassified, going from "complicity" to "attempted complicity" and the director of the press group announced his intention to bring the case before the Supreme Court of Burundi.

"This deliberation is as dismaying as it is frightening, it does not rest on any serious element and it places on journalists wishing to cover an essential topical issue the threat of a long prison sentence. It is another dark day for the Burundian press already plagued by years of repression that have led to the closure of many media and the exile of around 100 journalists. We ask the newly elected president to end this policy by first releasing these four journalists who have nothing to do in prison," said Arnaud Froger, head of RSF's Africa office.               

Amnesty International, for its part, said that the confirmation of the convictions of four journalists was a blow to press freedom and deplored the court decision to reject the appeal of four journalists from Iwacu who considered it to be both disappointing and unfair.

"They are incarcerated for investigating peacefully and publishing articles on subjects of public interest. Amnesty International considers the four journalists to be prisoners of conscience, who must therefore be released immediately and unconditionally," said the NGO, which called on Burundian authorities to guarantee full protection of the right to freedom of expression and the right to access information, and to put an end to their maneuvers aimed at silencing journalists.
-0- PANA BM / BEH/KND/AR 10June2020