Six pupils jailed for defacing President’s photograph

Six pupils from Kamuri Basic School in Kirundo province have been imprisoned. They are accused of having defaced the photo of President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday 12 March 2019.

Parents give food to pupils jailed for scribbling after the public audience, Rumonge 2016

When they were arrested, they were seven: one boy and six girls all from Kamuri basic school in Kirera area of Kirundo commune in Kirundo province in the north of Burundi. The boy was later on released because he did not have the required age to be jailed.

These 7th grade students have been arrested and put in police custody in Kirundo since Tuesday.
They were expelled from school on Friday following accusations of having scrawled in the books of social sciences of their classmates.

Their parents had tried to negotiate an agreement with the teachers to no avail.
The provincial director of education didn’t want to react to this case arguing that it is already being dealt with in court.

Ferdinand Simbaruhije, Secretary General of the federation of associations defending children’s rights-FENADEB, says an inquiry should be held before those pupils are punished.

“An investigation into the case should be conducted first”, he says, adding that children should meanwhile be released and continue studying. “Jailing these teens is not a good solution,” he says.
Mr. Simbaruhije adds that those pupils should be punished according to the school regulations even when they are found guilty. “That pupils scribble on the photo in the textbooks seems to be a fault that should be punished according to the school rules”.

The phenomenon of defacing the President’s photo which is in the basic school textbooks is not new. In 2016, around a hundred of pupils were arrested in different parts of the country over defacing the same photo. Some of these students were sentenced to one year in prison and each obliged to pay BIF 50,000 as fine while others were forced to buy new books.