Leading Free Expression Organisations in Africa Call on the ACHPR to Urge Burundi to Respect Human Rights

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Banjul/Kampala, May 4, 2015: The Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), ARTICLE 19, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and AFIC’s membership of 35 civil society organisations in 22 African countries, concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Republic of Burundi, have today called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) tourge the Government of Burundi to respect its obligation under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights by allowing people to express their rights to freedom of association, expression and information, reopen closed radio stations and refrain from use of excessive force against protesters exercising their rights protected by the Charter.

Credible information indicates that the situation of freedom of expression and access to information is deteriorating in Burundi. Over the past week ten persons are reported to have been killed by police while exercising their right to peaceful assembly, expression and information over a contested term of office for President Pierre Nkurunziza.

In addition, three private radio stations have been close including Radio Publique African (RPA), Bonesha and Isanganiro. Access to social media has also been blocked to prevent citizens from informing the world about on the situation in the country. The general public, Journalists, free expression organisations and human rights defenders live in fear due to the reign of terror being unleashed on the population by state police and militia in Burundi.

The political opposition and human rights defenders are a target of night attacks by unknown people. A number of people have been killed, arrested or are not accounted for. Police have recruited a group of militia youth called ‘imbonerakure’ who violently attack or otherwise intimidate people perceived to be opposed to President Nkurunziza’s bid. Mr. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a human rights defender has been arrested and released without being charged.

“It is appalling that President Nkurunziza who was democratically elected has now turned to spurn democracy and the will of the people by seeking another term in contravention of the nation’s constitution and the Arusha Agreement.” says Gilbert Sendugwa, Executive Director of AFIC.

President Nkurunziza should take a cue from other African nations including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya where there are successful transitions from one regime to another” says Edetean Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda.

“The Burundi government must allow citizens to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and expression and respect the constitutional provisional on the terms limit to avoid further tension” reiterates Henry Maina , ARTICLE 19 Regional Director for Eastern Africa .

The organisations jointly call on the ACHPR, the AU and African heads of state to urge President Nkurunziza to not cause any unnecessary crisis that can snowball into a civil war and its attendant death of civilian and destruction of property.

For further information, please contact:

Peter Katonene Mwesigwa

+256 414 533554

peter@africafoicentre.org.

or

Patrick Muthai

patrick@article19.org

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