Joint Press Release

The International Federation of ACAT (FIACAT) and Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture in Burundi (ACAT-BURUNDI) are deeply concerned by the arrest and ongoing detention of six Burundian human rights defenders.

Floriane IRANGABIYE, journalist with the online radio station IGICANIRO, has been detained for seven months. She was brought before a court on 8 September 2022 where she was accused of undermining the integrity of the state without being formally charged.

She was sentenced on 2 January 2023 to ten years' imprisonment without any legal basis and is currently detained in Muyinga prison. She was sentenced on the grounds of a fabricated report by the National Intelligence Service (SNR) claiming that she had admitted the charges against her.

On 14 February 2023, the SNR arrested five other human rights defenders, four of whom were arrested in the morning on their way to Bujumbura international airport to travel to Kampala (Uganda). They are Ms Sonia NDIKUMASABO, Ms Marie EMERUSABE of the Association of Women Jurists of Burundi (AFJB), Mr Audace HAVYARIMANA and Ms Sylvana INAMAHORO of the Association for Peace and Human Rights (APDH). Mr Prosper RUNYANGE, who also works for APDH, was arrested in the afternoon of the same day in Ngozi.

All arrested by SNR agents, these people are detained in the compound of SNR without access to their lawyers or their families.

They were brought before the Ntahangwa Prosecutor's Office in the afternoon of 16 February 2023. The charges brought against them by the prosecution include 'undermining the proper functioning of public finances', 'rebellion' and 'undermining state security'. All five are currently being held in Mpimba prison.

In a press conference held on 16 February 2023, the Minister of the Interior, Martin Ninteretse, stated: "the evidence we have at the moment shows that there is a high probability that there is a risk of terrorist financing through these funds...".

On 2 March 2023, the Ntahangwa High Court confirmed the pre-trial detention of the five human rights defenders. The Ntahangwa Court of Appeal confirmed this detention on 15 March 2023.

Human rights defenders in Burundi are regularly threatened with prosecution on charges of undermining state security. These charges have no other purpose than to intimidate and punish them. These imprisonments demonstrate that the criminalisation of the activities of human rights defenders is increasing, as it did in the aftermath of the 2015 crisis.

FIACAT and ACAT-Burundi recall in this regard that twelve other human rights defenders are under judicial warrants for carrying out their work (1) and that the Burundian authorities have disbarred several independent civil society organisations, including ACAT Burundi on 19 October 2016 (2).

FIACAT and ACAT-Burundi call on the government of Burundi to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release the six human rights defenders incarcerated for their work to promote human rights ;
  • Provide a fair trial with due process for the six human rights defenders and release them as soon as possible;
  • Ensure the safety and respect of all rights of the six human rights defenders;
  • Restore a good work environment for human rights defenders by opening up the civic space and stopping the judicial harassment of Burundian civil society activists.

Press contact:

ACAT Burundi

Anitha Gateretse, coordinatrice des projets

+45 65 74 12 73,


+33 1 58 64 10 47,