Burundi: Schoolgirls face 5 years in prison for drawing on president’s photo

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Three schoolgirls in Burundi are facing up to five years in prison for drawing on pictures of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The schoolgirls spent the weekend in jail and charged on Monday of “insulting the head of state,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). They now face the prospect of jail time for defacing pictures on the president in their school textbooks.

Minors arrested for ‘doodling’

One 13-year-old girl has been released for being under the age of criminal responsibility but the three girls facing jail sentences are minors – their ages are yet to be confirmed.

If found guilty, the girls could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. However, school textbooks are often passed on between classes, making it difficult to know who drew on the president’s picture in the first place.

This wouldn’t be the first time school children are imprisoned for drawing on pictures of the president, though.

Eight elementary school students were arrested in 2016 on similar offences. Students wrote phrases such as “Get out” and “No to the 3rd term” in reference to Pierre Nkurunziza’s third-term campaign which resulted in widespread clashes across the former capital, Bujumbura, and other parts of the country.

The students’ arrests prompted their fellow classmates to protest in the streets. Security forces shot and injured two students during the demonstration and also shot a motorcycle driver who later died.

Featured image: Twitter

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.