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AFEX condemns the detention of journalist Sandra Muhoza

On April 14, 2024, journalist Sandra Muhoza with online media outlet La Nova Burundi was reportedly arrested by the police and later handed over to their national intelligence agency, Service National de Renseignement (SNR) in Bujumbura. The reason for Muhoza’s arrest is yet to be confirmed.

Prior to her arrest, Muhoza had responded to an interview invitation from an unnamed wealthy businessman affiliated with the ruling party, Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie – Forces pour la Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD).

According to La Nova Burundi, Muhoza had in the past reported on the dealings of this businessman.

Human rights defenders have raised concerns in the past concerning detention conditions in SNR’s jail in Bujumbura where Muhoza is presently held.

Burundi’s worsening human rights abuses and restrictions on press freedom has resulted in a large number of journalists fleeing the country since 2015. In 2023, Reporters Without Borders ranked Burundi 114 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom. Journalists in Burundi continue to live in fear of being threatened, attacked or arrested.

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) is concerned about the safety of Sandra Muhoza especially when no reason has been given for her arrest. AFEX urges state authorities in Burundi to unconditionally release journalist Muhozi to enable her return safely to her family.

AFEX further urges state authorities in Burundi to create an enabling socio-political environment that is tolerant of divergent views and also train security officers to protect the lives of journalists and other media persons.

AFEX urges the promotion of a free press environment to commence a re-establishment of the declined press environment in Burundi.

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