Burundi must free Kavumbagu,halt flawed persecution-CPJ

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By Robert Mugabe

The media advocacy group, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) want Burundian state prosecutor to drop pending charges of treason to the editor of NetPress who have been in prison since July 17, 2010.

In the latter addressed to Ancilla Ntakaburimvo, the Burundian Minister of Justice, calls the ministry to intervene in the case against Kavumbagu and “secure his release.”

The government jailed Kavumbagu for publishing an opinion column critical of Burundi’s security forces, basing its treason charge on Article 570 of the criminal code, which is applicable to civilians only in times of war.

In an appeals court hearing in November, a state prosecutor acknowledged that the applicable wartime conditions do not exist, according to defense lawyer Gabriel Sinarinzi.” Your office has an opportunity to end this flawed prosecution when Kavumbagu appears in court for a hearing on Wednesday.” The latter that Great Lakes Voice has seen reads in apart

According to media activist group, CPJ representatives visited Kavumbagu at Mpimba Prison in Bujumbura in December 2010. He has now spent nine months in custody. In a meeting with CPJ, First Vice President Therence Sinunguruza and Information Minister Concilie Nibigira expressed their interest in the release of Kavumbagu.

Although the First Vice President Sinunguruza declined to comment on the specifics of Kavumbagu’s case, he acknowledged to CPJ that the proceedings have run contrary to Burundian law.

Burundi is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa currently jailing a journalist on treason charges. “According to your country’s official National Consultations, released in December, the majority of Burundians support press freedom and the decriminalization of press offenses. We urge you to release Kavumbagu ,” Joel Simon, The executive director said in the latter.

CPJ research shows that press freedom conditions have improved somewhat over the past five years, but the ongoing detention of Kavumbagu tarnishes these gains.

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