Burundi: Statement - R2k Calls for an Immediate Release of Burundi and Zimbabwean Journalists!

press release

The Right2Know Campaign is concerned about ongoing targeting of journalists across the African continent. We note with concern the sentencing of four Burundi journalists on charges of undermining the state - simply for doing their job.

Equally worrying is the arrest of outspoken Zimbabwean journalist, Hopewell Chin'ono. Chin'ono has long been a critical voice against corruption in Zimbabwe. We join the continental and international community in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of these journalists!

R2K is a movement centered on freedom of expression and access to information and aims to ensure the free flow of information necessary to meet people's social, economic, political and ecological needs.

The four Iwacu journalists, Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana, and Térence Mpozenzi, were arrested while covering a surprise incursion into Burundi by rebel forces.

The initial charge of "conspiring to undermine state security" was changed during the sentencing to a charge of "impossible attempt to undermine state security". The four faced jail time of up to 15 years on these charges. In the end they were jailed for 2,5 years and fined 1 million Burundian francs just for doing their job and reporting on developments in the central African country. These convictions are further evidence of the ongoing repression and silencing of journalists that has seen radio stations burnt to the ground, journalists fleeing into exile and the few remaining independent news outlets suffering constant harassment and even abduction.

We condemn these repressive acts by governments who seek to hide their misdeeds from public scrutiny, governments who abuse the legal framework to silence dissenting or critical voices. The African Charter of Human and People's Rights recognises freedom of expression - and especially freedom of the press as a fundamental good. Truth-telling should never be a crime.

R2K calls on newly elected Burundi president Evarist Ndayishimiye to break with the past and to commute the sentences of the Iwacu four.

We call on Zimbabwe president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to rein in his security forces and to stop the assault on journalists.

We call on President Cyril Ramaphosa, currently Chair of the African Union, to call on all of the African nations, including South Africa, to protect the integrity of a free and independent press and to keep their #HandsOffTheJournalists

#OngaziMakazi!

#HandsOffTheJournalists!

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