Floriane Irangabiye, a columnist and host on Radio Igicaniro – a Burundian online media outlet that broadcasts from Rwanda – was arrested in Matana, southern Burundi, on August 30, 2022 by agents of the National Intelligence Service (SNR). The journalist, who lives in exile in Rwanda with her family, was visiting Burundi to attend a funeral.
After her arrest, Floriane Irangabiye was immediately transferred to SNR headquarters in Bujumbura. On September 8, 2022, after more than a week of interrogations without the presence of a lawyer, she was transferred to the Central Prison of Mpimba. On September 29, 2022, in the middle of the night, without prior information, she was taken to Muyinga Prison, in the northeast of the country, far from her family members, who live in Bujumbura. This episode was a source of anguish for the journalist, who was convinced that she was going to disappear like Jean Bigiramana, for whom ACAT-France has also been advocating.
Whereas the Criminal Procedure code and international standards for human rights guarantee the right of any person held in pre-trial detention to be promptly charged or released, Floriane Irangabiye was formally charged with “undermining the integrity of the national territory” on October 27, 2022, approximately two months after her arrest.
The Mukaza High Court based in Bujumbura, moved to Muyinga Prison on December 16, 2022 to try the journalist. On January 2, 2023, the Burundian journalist was sentenced to ten years in prison with a fine of 1,000,000 Burundian francs (about 450 euros) for hosting a discussion in August 2022 between two critics of the Burundian authorities – Bob Rugurika, Director of Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), and Janvier Bigiramana, a lawyer and national coordinator of Tournons la Page (TLP-Burundi) – on Radio Igicaniro. During the debate, the journalist strongly criticized the government and encouraged Burundians to oppose the authorities.
Floriane Irangabiye’s case is now before the Bujumbura Court of Appeal, since her lawyers filed an appeal on January 23, 2023, but no date has yet been set for the appeal proceedings.
For ACAT-France, the sentencing of Floriane Irangabiye to ten years in prison is an abusive and biased sentence, motivated by a political will to silence any opposition or critical voice. This is taking place in a context of monopolization of power by the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Democratic Defense Forces (CNDD-FDD), which has become the dominant political party and has been in power since 2005.
ACAT-France is mobilizing support in favor of Floriane Irangabiye’s release and called on Burundian authorities to do so, at the beginning of the month March 2023.
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