Four Burundian journalists granted presidential pardon

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Bujumbura, Dec. 25, 2020 Four Burundian journalists of the independent daily Iwacu (Chez nous) have been granted presidential pardon after 430 days in detention for “undermining state security,” the editorial staff of the newspaper said on Friday.

Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi were arrested on 22 October, 2019, while they were reporting on problems of insecurity in northern Burundi.

They were each sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and fined one million Burundian francs (US$500).

Local and international press freedom advocates criticised the sentence as “arbitrary” imprisonment of journalists in the exercise of their profession.

Relations between the independent press and the government deteriorated considerably under the previous regime of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Several leaders of the independent media remain under international arrest warrants for their “hostility” towards the third term in 2015 of the late Burundian president, Pierre Nkurunziza.

The release of the four Iwacu journalists was unanimously welcomed by the public as a sign of appeasement of the new Burundian president, Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Some 40 other international arrest warrants are still pending against political opponents, civil society leaders, ruling party members and military personnel who tried to overthrow the government at the height of the movement to challenge the the late Nkurunziza’s third term.

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