Press release

Burundi: Jailing of journalist a travesty of justice

staff image

ARTICLE 19

22 Jun 2012

Share
Print

image

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the imprisonment of Hassan Ruvakuki, a reporter for local radio station Bonesha FM and French government-funded broadcaster Radio France Internationale on a charge of "participating in acts of terrorism.”

“Journalists have a right not to disclose their sources. We are disappointed by the ruling as the journalist was only doing his work of reporting the conflict along the Burundi-Tanzania border. In a conflict situation, it is important for all sides to be heard and Journalists’ contact with proscribed groups in no way means support for their causes. It is also surprising and shocking that the courts are using terrorism laws to stifle freedom of the press and this should not be allowed to happen,” said Henry Maina Article 19 Eastern Africa Director.

Ruvakuki was charged in November 2011 along with 13 others for his involvement in what the Burundian government called a terrorist attack that took place in September 2011 near the border with Tanzania. Ruvakuki was accused of involvement in the attack in part because he had interviewed Pierre Claver Kabirigi, a former police officer who claimed to be the leader of a new rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Democracy-Abanyagihugu.

ARTICLE 19 notes with concern that journalists and human rights defenders in Burundi have been targeted in a wave of detentions in the past two years with the government severely restricting the work of independent media. It calls upon the Burundi government to stop intimidating journalists and human rights defenders and respect freedom of expression, association and assembly pursuant to international instruments and end the use of imprisonment for those believed to have divergent views from those held by government. Further, ARTICLE 19 calls for the review of the anti-terrorism legislation to ensure it conforms to internationally acceptable limitation of freedom of expressions thus not illegitimately being used to stifle legitimate forms of expression as has been seen in the case of Ruvakuki. Finally, it urges the Court of Appeal to hear the merits of the case and acquit the journalist.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

For more media interviews please contact: Patrick Mutahi, Senior Programme Officer, Safety and Protection, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Email: patrick@article19.org or call on +254 20 3862230/1/2