On March 30, the Court of Appeal of Mukaza in Bujumbura, Burundi held a hearing session on the case of Burundian journalist Floriane Irangabiye. She had appealed the 2 January decision of the High Court of Mukaza, which convicted her of the trumped-up charge of “undermining the integrity of the national territory” and sentenced her to 10 years in prison and a fine of one million Burundian francs (around USD 482). The Court of Appeal has 30 days to rule on the appeal. Floriane Irangabiye has been detained since August 2022. Her prosecution stems from the peaceful exercise of her human rights and for her work as a journalist. Amnesty International calls for her immediate and unconditional release and for her conviction to be quashed.
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Minister of Justice
PO Box: 1880
Email: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Embassy of the Republic of Burundi
2233 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 342 2574
Contact form: https://burundiembassy-usa.com/index.php/contact
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
I am concerned by the continued arbitrary detention and unfair prosecution of journalist Floriane Irangabiye.
On 30 March, the Court of Appeal of Mukaza in Bujumbura, Burundi, held a hearing on the appeal against her conviction and sentencing to ten years in prison and one million Burundian francs (around USD 482). The court will make its decision within 30 days of the hearing.
On 30 August 2022, Floriane Irangabiye was arrested by Burundian security forces while on a family visit in Bujumbura. The High Court of Mukaza’s found her guilty of “undermining the integrity of the national territory’ on 2 January. According to her lawyers the High Court failed to consider procedural irregularities during her arrest – including the denial of access to her lawyer when she was first interrogated- and the lack of any admissible evidence against her.
During her trial at the end of 2022, the prosecution presented comments made during an August 2022 show on Radio Igicaniro. At this Burundian online media outlet, Floriane Irangabiye and her guests criticized the government of Burundi. In an audio record of the show retrieved by the prosecutor, she purportedly said: “the population is resigned to the evils of the leaders of Burundi, citizens do not express themselves for fear of being killed, we call on Burundians to brave the fear.” The prosecution also presented as evidence photos of her posing with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and former President Pierre Buyoya at public events. She was also accused of participating in meetings held by Burundian youths in exile in Rwanda.
Floriane Irangabiye’s prosecution is politically motivated and a sign that the Burundian authorities intend to continue restricting the civic space, despite promises by President Evariste to improve the country’s human rights record.
I urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Floriane Irangabiye is immediately and unconditionally released. Her conviction and ongoing arbitrary detention are in violation of her rights to freedom of expression and fair trial.