Burundian authorities have charged four journalists on Saturday with a crime of undermining state security.
The journalists were arrested this week as Burundi’s government continues to clamp down on journalists and human rights groups.
According to local media reporting the journalists from a local news website outlet, Iwacu had travelled to report on violence in the northwestern province of Bubanza.
They were arrested on Tuesday during this trip together with their driver.
Radio journalist Christine Kamikazi, political reporter Agnès Ndirubusa, English-language journalist Egide Harerimana, photographer Térence Mpozenzi and driver Adolphe Masabarakiza had wanted to check on the situation in Bubanza.
But while conducting interviews with some civilians the journalists were arrested.
An editor of the news website the journalists work for, Pierre Emmanuel wrote on twitter that ” four journalists and their driver have just been transferred to the #Bubanza Central Prison.
A new Element: They are charged with Complicity in Undermining the Internal Security of State.”
#Burundi The 4 @iwacuinfo journalists and their driver have just been transferred to the #Bubanza Central Prison. A new Element: They are charged with Complicity in Undermining the Internal Security of State. #JeSuisIWACU #IAmIWACU @gijnAfrica @RSF_inter @CPJAfrica pic.twitter.com/ZhuvFywYvc
— Pierre Emmanuel (@pierremmanuel88) October 26, 2019
The news website outlet has launched an online petition to demand the release of the journalists.
There have been conflicting reporting on the ongoing violence in Bubanza with Security forces saying they killed 14 people in the province.
They claimed those killed had crossed the border from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
But there are also reports of rebel attacks and abductions of civilians. That triggered the said visit by journalists to the area.