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Prosecutor General of the Republic
B. P. 105
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.