CFWIJ pleads for acquittal of two Burundian female journalists

In a statement issued on 9 January, the Coalition for Women in Journalism (CFWIJ) expressed its concern over the charges against two female journalists detained with their male colleague since 22 October 2020.

Christine Kamikazi and Agnès Ndirubusa detained in Bubanza

“The Coalition For Women in Journalism is concerned about the charges made against Burundi journalists Agnès Ndirubusa and Christine Kamikazi, along with their two male colleagues and driver,” reads the statement. The coalition also expressed its disappointment over the Burundi justice system and demands their immediate release. The coalition believes that this situation intensifies concerns over press freedom in the lead-up to 2020 elections.

The international organization Reporters Without Borders launched last week an online petition asking for the liberation of the four journalists detained in Bubanza province, in west of Burundi. Over 450 people have already signed the petition.

The coalition of major international media, known as the “one free press coalition”, published on 8 January its monthly list of the most urgent cases. The one of Iwacu journalists imprisoned since 22 October 2019 comes in 4th position in a list of 10 “urgent” cases.

Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi and Egide Harerimana were arrested on 22 October 2019, when going to investigate the clashes that erupted between armed groups and security forces in Musigati. They are accused of undermining the state’s internal security.

In a public hearing held on 30 December, the Public Prosecutor requested a fifteen -year imprisonment for those journalists, seizure of their belongings along with the car they used while travelling to perform their professional duties. The state prosecutor has also demanded the judge to deny the persecuted journalists their right to vote for five years, as well as the denial of civic rights for 20 years. The ruling of their case is expected within 30 days.