Burundi security forces detained and beat a journalist on Sunday while he was covering the assassination of a top general in the capital, Bujumbura.
According to Media watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPG), Esdras Ndikumana, a correspondent for Agence France-Presse and Radio France Internationale, was detained for about two hours after he was found photographing the scene at which General Adolphe Nshimiramana was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Ndikumana said agents beat him on the back, legs, and soles of his feet, and then released him and sent him to a hospital for treatment. According to news reports, Ndikumana, who was accused of being a ‘journalist enemy’, was not charged.
CPJ’s calls to Philippe Nzobonariba, a government spokesman, were not answered. The body however condemned the attack and urged the Burundian authorities to launch a full and efficient investigation.
“The government in Burundi must allow journalists for local and international media to cover the news without any fear of arrest or violence,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “We call on authorities to investigate this attack on Esdras Ndikumana and hold the perpetrators to account,” he added.
Gen Nshimiramana was killed just a week after elections resulted in President Pierre Nkurunziza being declared the winner on July 24.The opposition condemned Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term and called it unconstitutional. Months of protests followed, as well as an attempted coup in mid-May.
Journalists have been attacked since the violence began. At least five radio stations were attacked during the attempted coup, and one newspaperstopped publishing after it received threats. Diane Nininahazwe, a correspondent for Voice of America, told CPJ assailants threw a grenade at her home on June 24. No one was hurt. She said she also received three threatening text messages. On June 4, authorities withdrew the accreditation of France 24 journalist Thaïs Brouck, saying he had he failed to cover the elections process according to the terms of his accreditation letter and that he was inciting the public to demonstrate. Brouck had reported on the protests against Nkurunziza, news reports said.