The IPI global network for press freedom condemns the arrest and continued detention of journalist Floriane Irangabiye in Burundi. Irangabiye, a Burundian national based in Rwanda, was arrested by Burundi intelligence personnel in the capital Bujumbura on August 30. She was in the country to attend the funeral of one of her parents at the time.
Irangabiye has remained in detention since. So far, no official charges have been leveled against her, but it is believed that her arrest and prolonged detention are related to her media work.
In 2019, Irangabiye, in collaboration with other young people, founded an online radio station called IGICANIRO, which became well-known for its broadcasts through which various politicians living in Burundi or in exile as well as human rights defenders expressed their opinions. Irangabiye was also hosting programs on critical political and cultural issues.
“Given the blurred diplomatic relations between Burundi and Rwanda, those who have gone in this latter country are considered as opponents”, a journalist in Burundi told IPI on the condition of anonymity. “It is in this context that the trial of Floraine Irangabiye risks being politicized. She is likely to be slapped with heavy sentences.”
Press freedom is severely restricted in Burundi, and media and journalists exercise self-censorship on critical and political national issues. Dissent is not tolerated and is repressed in the country.
“IPI calls on authorities in Burundi to immediately release Floriane Irangabiye, and allow her to reunite with her family”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Burundi must stop harassing critical voices, respect press freedom as a condition of democracy, and allow journalists and media to do their jobs without fear of reprisal.”