Burundi Arbitrarily Imprisons Editor on Treason ChargeAlysha Atma Salem-News.com African Affairs Correspondent
“We call for his release and the withdrawal of the charges against him” - Reporters Without Borders
Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, editor of the online newspaper Net Press
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, editor of the online newspaper Net Press, Kavumbagu has been detained since July 17on the charge of treason.
RSF told Salem-news.com “Kavumbagu has been unjustly held for the past six weeks pending trial on a treason charge that is baseless. Pre-trial detention is supposed to be an exception. He should not be in detention when his trial starts. We urge the judges to reach an equitable decision”.
Kavumbagu published an article July 12 about the possibility of Burundi being the next target for a terrorist attack by the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab. Link to the article He was then arrested while on his way to work on 17 July.
After being questioned for two hours, he was placed in detention in Bujumbura’s Mpimba prison. He was questioned again several day later, and again reprimanded to prison.
Kavumbagu never received a summons to appear in the deputy prosecutor’s office for an investigation, he was also not given an opportunity to be accompanied by a lawyer during his first interrogation. Kavumbagu is being held on a charge of treason, if convicted he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
“This is the fifth time he has been arrested in 14 years of working as a journalist. There is absolutely no justification for the charge in the offending article, which just raises what could be a real problem for Burundi.” RSF told Salem-News.com.
Kavumbagu’s lawyer, Gabriel Sinarinzi, told RSF: “What he is alleged to have done does not constitute an act of treason. According to article 570 of the criminal code, an act of treason can only be committed in war time and Burundi is not at war.” Sinarinzi added: “Our client’s arrest and placement in provisional detention are arbitrary and illegal measures that violate the rules of criminal procedure. Provisional detention is meant to be used above all to prevent any disturbance of public order. But there have been no security incidents since the article’s publication that could justify such a summary arrest.”
September 2008, Kavumbagu was jailed on a charge of defaming the president, he spent six months in prison before being acquitted March 2009.
Kavumbagu appeared in court yesterday, for a hearing on the legality of his imprisonment, the court said it would issue its ruling tomorrow.
“We call for his release and the withdrawal of the charges against him,” RSF demanded.
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Source: Reporters without Borders