Burundi : intelligence agency holds another journalist

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demands the immediate release of Gisa Steve Irakoze, a radio journalist who was abducted by members of the National Intelligence Agency (SNR) yesterday evening in Gatumba, a town 10 km west of the capital.

Gisa Steve Irakoze, who works for Radio Buja FM, was taken from a bar in the Kajaga district of Gatumba. Witnesses said the SNR agents arrested him without giving any reason. After being bundled into a pickup, he reportedly spent the night in an SNR cell in Gatumba and was transferred to an unknown location today.

“Gisa Steve Irakoze, who has Rwandan and Burundian dual nationality, has been summarily arrested by SNR agents one month after the disappearance of Jean Bigirimana, a journalist with Infos Grands Lacs and Iwacu who was accused by the authorities of making too many visits to Rwanda,” RSF said. “Bigirimana cannot be found and the investigation into his disappearance has stalled. These repeated arbitrary arrests of journalists and the impunity with which intelligence officers act are unacceptable.”

Steve’s family told SOS Médias Burundi: “He has not eaten anything since yesterday and his health is fragile. He is diabetic. We fear for his health. Something serious could happen to him.”

The police spokesman today said that Steve was accused of “endangering state security.”

RSF appealed to President Pierre Nkurunziza on 11 August to hold the SNR to account over Bigirimana’s disappearance. There was no response to the appeal.

Burundi is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

Published on
Updated on 19.08.2016