Kaduna (Nigeria) 6th June, 2020: Africa Media Development Foundation has expressed regret and disappointment over the decision of the Court of Appeal in Ntahangwa, Burundi, which upheld the verdict against four journalists working for an independent media ‘Iwacu’.
The journalists had been sentenced 30 months in prison and fined one million Burundian francs each, for offences related to national security.
On 30th January, without their lawyer, a High Court in Bubanza, in north western region, delivered the sentenced on Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Térence Mporenzi, and Egide Harerimana, who were arrested in October while reporting on a rebel attack in north western part of the country.
Reacting to the verdict, founder of Iwacu Newspaper, Antoine Kaburahe, twitted, “We are sad to inform you that Iwacu’s appeal has been dismissed by the court. Our four colleagues remain in prison in Bubanza. We will continue to demand justice and bring the case to the Supreme Court. Thank you to everyone who supports us.”
Also reacting, an activist, and president of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Alice Mogwe, regretted the development saying, “This verdict is a new warning for the last Burundian journalists trying to do their job, in a country where international journalists have not been able to go for years and where most of civil society is in exile. The message distilled by this decision is very clear: stop trying to cover up events hostile to the regime and go to where the regime has not invited you. Burundi has just invented a sort of “reporting offense”,
Burundi is the 160th out of 180 countries in the 2020 world press freedom index and has over the years become a tough country for journalists to operate in, with almost no presence of foreign journalists.