Civicus fights for imprisoned Burundi writer

Monday February 19 2024

An illustration of jailed Burundian writer Floriane Irangabiye. PHOTO | X via CIVICUSfrancais


Global civil society alliance Civicus has added jailed Burundian journalist Floriane Irangabiye to its Stand As My Witness campaign, which advocates the release of wrongly imprisoned journalists, activists, dissidents and human-rights defenders around the world.

Irangabiye joins 19 other jailed individuals featured in the campaign, including Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi, leading Hong Kong activist Chow Hang-Tung and prominent Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez.

So far, 25 people featured in the campaign have been released, thanks to collective efforts by activists around the globe.

Civicus launched the Stand As My Witness campaign in 2020 to honour the legacy of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

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“Our decision to add Floriane Irangabiye to Stand As My Witness underscores the tragic and unjust nature of her imprisonment,” said Asma Darwish, Civicus campaigns officer. “We hope that bringing more attention to her case will hasten her release.”


SOS Torture Burundi, a Burundian human rights organisation based in Brussels, joined Civicus in calling on Burundi’s authorities to unconditionally free Ms Irangabiye.

“Floriane Irangabiye’s imprisonment does not serve Burundians nor the nation of Burundi, where the authorities must guarantee freedom of the press,” said Gervais Nibigira, Managing Director of SOS Torture Burundi. “We call upon the authorities in Burundi to take a positive step and release Floriane.”

In 2019, Irangabiye co-founded “IGICANIRO,” a Rwanda-based online radio station critical of Burundi’s government. On August 30, 2022, Burundi intelligence personnel arrested Irangabiye while she was in Burundi for a relative’s funeral. Authorities falsely charged her with endangering the integrity of the nation.

During her trial, the prosecutor presented no credible evidence, and the court later admitted that her initial interrogation violated proper procedures. Even so, a court convicted her on January 2, 2023 and ordered a ten-year sentence, upheld on first appeal. Now, Irangabiye sits in a cell in Bubanza Prison, where her health, already compromised by a longstanding medical condition, has deteriorated further.

Read: Author who fled Uganda arrives in Germany

On January 11, 2024, Irangabiye appeared before the Supreme Court’s Appeals Chamber, where her lawyers raised the irregularities in her case. This appeal is currently under advisement.

“Burundi’s authorities should show the world that they respect principles of justice by freeing Floriane Irangabiye,” said Paul Mulindwa, Africa Advocacy Lead at CIVICUS. “We look forward to either the Supreme Court ordering her release or the President of Burundi issuing a pardon so we can all celebrate Floriane’s freedom together.”

Civicus is the global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Established in 1993, Civicus has been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa since 2002, with additional hubs across the globe. Civicus is a membership alliance with more than 15,000 members in more than 175 countries.

SOS Torture Burundi is an organisation committed to the fight against torture and other human rights violations, the fight against impunity, and the promotion of the rule of law in Burundi since 2015 and is headquartered in Belgium. It is a member of the SOS Torture Network of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).