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Burundi: IFJ condemns sequestration of journalists

IFJ condemns the sequestration of journalists in Burundi

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arbitrary detention by the police of about thirty journalists in Bujumbura (Burundi).

While they were covering a press conference given by the member of Parliament Matthias Basabose in his residence, these journalists were retained there against their will for more than 7 hours.

According to a leader of the Burundi Journalists Association who was part of the journalists retained, Monday, at 3h30 pm local time (1 h 30 pm GMT), about fifty police officers, armed with guns, surrounded the house of Mr. Basabose, and told journalists that they had received orders from the presidential police force "not to aloud anybody out ". Without any explanation the journalists were released around 23 hours, more than 7 hours of sequestration.

Matthias Basabose organized this press conference after he was excluded Saturday from the presidential party, the CNDD-FDD, (the National Council for the Defence of the Democracy - Forces of Defence of the Democracy). Mr Basabose, accused last week the CNDD-FDD to have influenced the judiciary and to have unilaterally decided the attribution of public markets to get money for its finances.

« Despite the promises of the current government to open up, these attacks announce their intension to muzzle the media . These harassments showed that press freedom is volatile in Burundi and call whistleblowers to remain vigilant » declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of the Africa Office of the IFJ.

IFJ denounces this violation of press freedom and the attempt of intimidation, and invites the government to avoid such drifts. “The media have an important role to play in the process of national reconciliation and democratization in progress in Burundi. Journalists should be allowed to do their work in complete freedom and the various actors of the social and political life should also be allowed to express their opinions.” Said Mr Baglo.

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