UNHRC pleads for release of four Iwacu reporters

According to a communiqué issued by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner on February 20, the UN experts strongly criticized the two and a half year jail sentence handed down against four Burundian journalists.

Four Iwacu reporters detained in Bubanza prison for about four months

They said sentencing the four journalists to jail for simply carrying out their jobs is not acceptable. “Journalists must be able to conduct their work independently and must have unhindered access to sources of information,” read the communiqué.

They also said they are deeply concerned that the prison sentence of the four Iwacu reporters was handed down following proceedings that don’t appear to have respected the right to a fair trial. “The convictions appear to be directly related to their activities as journalists. If the right to a fair trial has not been respected, the journalists should be released,” the experts said.

Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi were arrested on their way to Musigati commune in Bubanza province when they were going to cover the clashes between the national forces and an armed group in the area on October 22.

On 30 January 2020, the Bubanza High Court sentenced them to two and a half years in prison and fined them each one million Burundian francs for “an ‘impossible attempt’ to undermine the internal security of the state. Iwacu Press Group lawyer appealed to another jurisdiction.