Urgent Action Update: Journalists Sentenced to Imprisonment (Burundi: UA 149.19)

March 11, 2020

On 30 January, the Bubanza Tribunal in northern Burundi sentenced journalists Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi to two years and six months in prison. The initial charge of “conspiring to undermine state security” was changed during the sentencing to a charge of “impossible attempt to undermine state security”. The tribunal acquitted their driver, Adolphe Masambarakiza. The four have appealed their sentence. Amnesty International believes the four are being persecuted simply for doing their legitimate work as journalists.

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Sylvestre Nyandwi
Prosecutor General of the Republic
Parquet général
B. P. 105
Bujumbura
Burundi
Ambassador Gaudence Sindayigaya
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

Dear Prosecutor General,

I am very concerned by the sentencing of Iwacu journalists Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi to two years and six months in prison on 30 January 2020 by the Bubanza Tribunal.

The four journalists were arrested with their driver, Adolphe Masambarakiza, on 22 October 2019, as they arrived in Bubanza province to investigate reports of clashes between security forces and an armed group. Adolphe Masambarakiza was released on bail on 20 November 2019, while the others remained in detention. Adolphe Masambarakiza was acquitted on 30 January 2020. The four journalists appealed the Bubanza Tribunal’s sentence on 21 February.

The initial charge of “conspiring to undermine state security” was changed during sentencing to “impossible attempt to undermine state security”. The tribunal did not allow the journalists’ legal counsel to present counter arguments against this new charge.

I believe Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi were prosecuted for doing their journalistic work and peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. The activity for which they have been convicted – travelling to an area to investigate recent events – is precisely the kind of job journalists are expected to undertake.

Therefore, I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release the journalists and drop the charges against them.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES