Brussels, 7th of May 2019 – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Burundian Union of Journalists (UBJ) have condemned the arrest of journalist Claude Nshimirimana, who works for the National Radio and Television of Burundi (NRTB).
According to the latest reports, Claude Nshimirimana was arrested on 5 May and is being held in a police cell in Kabezi about 15 kilometres from the capital Bujumbura. He has been accused of “holding a clandestine meeting”.
The UBJ said: “We denounce and condemn the arbitrary detention of our comrade Claude Nshimirimana. We demand his immediate release since the alleged reason for his arrest, that is, participation in a clandestine meeting, is pure fantasy. Claude was only jogging on the public road“.
The intimidation and harassment of journalists in Burundi have become rampant and unacceptable, said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger. “Burundian journalists have been subjected to a systematic pattern of repression and intimidation since 2015. The government has employed high-handed tactics to force journalists into submission resulting in a situation where many journalists have been forced to flee into exile while those who remain in the country are self-censoring”.
The President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) Alsadig Ibrahim Alrizagi said journalists in Burundi “have been subjected to ongoing harassment that had denied them the opportunity to seek, receive and disseminate information in a peaceful manner”. Journalists in Burundi, he added, work under a lot of pressure and fear because of the treatment meted out to them by the government and the security forces in particular.
The IFJ and the FAJ call for the immediate and unconditional release of Claude Nshimirimana and urge the Burundian Government to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens and to end all forms of intimidation and harassment of journalists and the media.
The Burundian government must create an enabling environment for media and guarantee the safety and security of journalists and media workers as the country moves towards the 2020 elections.