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Burundi

    July 22, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs EAT   23 July 2015

    Burundian authorities repressed demonstrations as if they were an insurrection, and now the country appears to be on the verge of conflict, Amnesty International warned in a new report, Braving Bullets – Excessive force in policing demonstrations in Burundi, released today.

    Amnesty International’s investigation in May and June 2015 found that Burundian police used excessive lethal force, including against women and children, to silence those opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third-term.

    “It is a tragedy that demonstrators had to brave bullets to try to have their voices heard,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    June 10, 2015

    Escalating threats against journalists and other media workers in the past week are worrying signs that journalism in Burundi has become increasingly dangerous since an attempted coup last month, Amnesty International warned today.

    Media freedom and coverage is critical to provide accurate information given the electoral impasse triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, as well as growing fears of renewed conflict with wider regional implications.

    “The intimidation is real and has sparked a climate of fear among journalists. If the police are shooting peaceful protesters, journalists must be able to report that. If Burundian citizens are fleeing the country, journalists should be free to report that too,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes.

    “Burundians have a right to information about government activities including the stalled electoral process and mediation efforts to forestall renewed conflict in the region.”

    Recent threats and resstrictions

    April 29, 2015

    The Burundian government must halt its brutal clampdown on protestors contesting President Nkurunziza’s bid to stand again in the forthcoming elections, Amnesty International warned today, or risk the situation spiralling out of control.  

    “It is alarming that people have been killed as a result of expressing their views about the electoral process. This sets a dangerous precedent at a time when the Government of Burundi should be prioritising human rights and the protection of the population in the lead-up to the elections,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
     
    “The failure of the government to even guarantee people’s rights to life and security sends a worrisome warning signal about the risk of serious human rights violations. The police and the Government of Burundi must uphold their obligations with respect to peaceful demonstrations.”

    “It is now critical for all parties in Burundi to take a clear and common stand against human rights abuses”.

    July 28, 2014

    Burundi’s ruling party is perpetrating a relentless campaign of intimidation against government critics and its youth wing is carrying out crimes with impunity ahead of next year’s election, warns Amnesty International in a report published today.

    ‘Locked down: A shrinking of political space’ explores a crackdown on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and a sharp increase in politicized violence in Burundi linked to the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party.

    “The government’s clampdown on free expression and peaceful assembly has serious implications for human rights ahead of next year’s elections,” said Tom Gibson, Amnesty International’s Burundi researcher.

    Political tensions in Burundi have run high as President Nkurunziza looks to be pushing for a third presidential term, perceived by many as in violation of Burundi’s Constitution.

    April 30, 2013

    A new press law that would severely limit the activities of journalists in Burundi poses a grave threat to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    The draft law, which includes new press-related crimes and exorbitant fines for journalists who violate them, looks set to be signed off by Burundi's President after it was adopted by the country's Senate earlier this month.

    The proposal restricts the right to report on anything relating to state and public security, as well as information that threatens the economy or "insults the President".

    "Freedom of expression in Burundi is gravely under threat from this repressive law, which has great potential to be abused and places journalists at the mercy of the authorities," said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Africa Director.

    "President Pierre Nkurunziza must reject the draft, and ensure that journalists are able to carry out their legitimate work freely and without the threat of legal action."

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