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Burundi7 March 2002

Two journalists assaulted by police officers

image 91 x 101 (JPEG) In a letter to Defence Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye, Reporter Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières-RSF) protested journalist Aloys Niyoyita’s arrest by police officers and the assault on reporter Corneille Nibaruta. "The officers responsible for these actions must be punished firmly and swiftly," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation’s secretary-general. "To the best of our knowledge, these journalists were manhandled simply for exercising their professional activities," he added. RSF asked the minister to see to it that those responsible for these actions are identified and punished, and to do everything possible to ensure that Burundian journalists are able to work in a safe environment.

According to information collected by RSF, on 6 March 2002, Niyoyita, a Studio Ijambo news agency journalist and occasional contributor to the Associated Press agency, was arrested by police officers in Bujumbura. He was covering a demonstration by activists from the "P.A Amasekanya" group, which opposes the Arusha peace accords. The journalist was struck and arrested after refusing to hand over his reporting materials. He was detained for four hours at the First Battalion of Intervention station in Bujumbura, along with eight activists. Bonesha FM journalist Nibaruta was roughed up and humiliated by a police officer while covering the same demonstration, but was not arrested.

image 141 x 90 (JPEG) RSF recalled that Burundian journalists were often the targets of army repression in 2001. Several journalists were briefly detained or assaulted while trying to cover opposition activities, and had their cameras and video cameras confiscated.

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