Burundian intelligence service detains journalist one week without charge

Burundian authorities detained Gisa Steve Irakoze, a reporter for the independent Radio Buja FM on August 18, 2016, and released him without charge a week later, rights groups and the National Union of Journalists in Burundi reported.

Police arrested Irakoze in the town of Gatumba, some six miles (10 kilometres) outside the capital Bujumbura, held him overnight, and transferred him to the custody of the feared National Intelligence Service the following day, according to the chairman of the Burundi Union of Journalists, Alexandre Buja, who spoke with CPJ by telephone.

Eloge Willy Kaneza, a member of SOS-Media Burundi, a collective of journalists reporting from the country, told CPJ that security officials, who had earlier suspected Irakoze of “breaching internal state security,” told the journalist they were releasing him unconditionally and would not press charges. He was freed on August 25.

Irakoze’s arrest came on the heels of the disappearance of Iwacu reporter Jean Bigirimana. The journalist left his home in Bujumbura after receiving a phone call from the National Intelligence Service early in the afternoon of July 22, Iwacu reported. He has not been seen since and his family fears he is dead, CPJ reported at the time.

CPJ is aware of more than 100 journalists who have fled Burundi since Nkurunziza’s April 2015 decision to seek a third term. At least one journalist has been killed since then: Christophe Nkezabahizi, a cameraman for the state-run broadcaster RTNB was fatally shot with his wife and two teenage children during an October 2015 police raid of his neighborhood, CPJ reported at the time.