In response to a Burundi court's decision today to reject the appeal of four Iwacu media group journalists who are serving 2.5-year prison terms, as reported by their employer, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
"Burundian authorities should never have arrested the four detained Iwacu journalists; rejecting their appeal only shows that authorities are willing to double-down on the country's hostility toward the free press," said CPJ sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. "It is deeply disappointing that, despite the transparently retaliatory nature of their case, the court rejected their appeal and the journalists remain behind bars amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when imprisonment poses an unacceptable health risk."
Iwacu broadcast reporter Christine Kamikazi, politics desk head Agnès Ndirubusa, English service reporter Egide Harerimana, and photojournalist Térence Mpozenzi were arrested in October 2019, and in January were convicted of attempting to undermine state security, according to CPJ research. In its statement today, Iwacu said that it would continue demanding justice for the journalists and would take the case to Burundi's supreme court.