CJFE is concerned about recent incidents in an ongoing crackdown on press freedom that is related to the deteriorating political situation in Burundi. CJFE condemns the October 13 murder of Burundian cameraman Christophe Nkezabahizi and his family during tensions following the re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza. CJFE is also concerned by the October 13 arrest of Burundian journalist Egide Mwemero in Uvira in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
RTNB cameraman Nkezabahizi, his wife and their two children were shot by Burundian security forces in their home in Bujumbura. The Union of Burundian Journalists (le Syndicat des Journalistes Burundais) has stated that he was targeted for his work in the media. On the same day, Mwemero, a reporter for the independent Burundian station Radio Publique Africaine, was arrested at the offices of Radio le Messager du Peuple in the DRC along with two Congolese reporters, who have since reportedly been released. Mwemero has been in exile since May, after an attempted government coup to control the media. No charges or reasons for the arrest have been brought against him while he remains detained.
Upon President Pierre Nkurunziza’s re-election in July, the situation in Burundi has significantly deteriorated with targeted killings, attacks on the police and summary executions. In addition, independent media organizations have become a target, forcing many outlets to shut down, and journalists to flee the country. This follows an increasing crackdown on perceived government critics in the months leading up to the election, when journalists were threatened, detained and prevented from carrying out their work, as well as the enaction of a 2013 law restricting media freedoms and undermining the right to free expression guaranteed in Burundi’s Consitution.
CJFE calls on Burundian authorities to investigate the murder of Christophe Nkezabahizi and ensure those responsible are brought to justice, as well as intervene in the detainment abroad of Egide Mwemero. CJFE further urges the government of Burundi to guarantee the right to free expression and permit journalists to investigate and report without fear of unwarranted arrest and persecution.