HRW accuses Burundi of ‘flawed trial’ over jailed journalists
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Burundi of convicting four journalists in “a flawed trial”.
The rights group described the trial as “a clear example of the misuse of the justice system to stifle freedom of expression”. The four journalists in question were convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison on January 30 for “undermining state security” after they reported on an incursion of rebel troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
HRW condemns ‘flawed trial’ of convicted journalists
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned the nature and outcome of the trial that convicted Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana, and Térence Mpozenzi who all work for Burundi’s last remaining independent newspaper.
“Reporting on issues of public interest should not result in a criminal prosecution,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities are leading an assault on free expression in the months before the country’s 2020 elections.”
The rights group also criticised the fact that the charges placed against the defendants were changed without their knowledge, making it impossible to mount a valid defence.
“The charges were changed to attempted threat against state security. According to their lawyers, the defendants were neither informed of this change nor given an opportunity to defend themselves against this new accusation during the proceedings, violating fair trial standards.”
HRW has called for authorities in Burundi to immediately release the four journalists and restore media freedoms in the country.
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