On the eve of World Radio Day tomorrow, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Hassan Ruvakuki, a journalist who works for Radio France Internationale’s Swahili service and Bonesha FM, a Burundian radio station.
Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to heed a request by Ruvakuki’s lawyer for his release.
"Hassan Ruvakuki has a right to a conditional release,” his lawyer, Fabien Segatwa, told Reporters Without Borders. “If this request, submitted immediately after the appeal verdict, is not satisfied, we will take it to the country’s highest appeal court.”
The Reporters Without Borders petition for Ruvakuki’s release so far has 2,200 signatures. Sign the petition.
The campaign by RWB, RFI and French External Broadcasting for Ruvakuki’s release has won support from news media and press clubs all over Africa. They include:
- Burundi: Radio Bonesha FM, Iwacu Group, Radio Isanganiro, Net Press, the Burundian Journalists Union and Arib.Info
- Mauritania: Le Calame and Cridem
- Cameroon: Mutations (a daily)
- Comoros: the Association of Broadcast Journalists and Technicians (SOIWUTI), Radio Fédération Tsinimoichongo (RFT) and Al-Watwan
- Madagascar: Radio Tana, L’Observateur and La Gazette de la Grande Ile
- Gambia: The Point
- Niger: Radio-Télévision Saraounya (RTS) and the Niamey Press Club
- Burkina Faso: Norbert Zongo Press Centre and the African Publishers’ Forum
- Gabon: Gabonactu.com
- Chad: Le Temps (a weekly), Alwihda and Ndjaména-Hebdo
- Côte d’Ivoire: L’Inter
- Guinea: L’Aurore, Le Lynx, La Lance, Le Populaire and L’Observateur
- Nigeria: The News
Arrested in November 2011, Ruvakuki was initially given a life sentence in June 2012 on a charge of participating in “terrorist activity.” This was reduced to three years in prison on appeal on 8 January after the charge was changed to “participating in an association formed with the aim of attacking persons and property.”
Ruvakuki was arrested just for being an enterprising reporter and going to neighbouring Tanzania to cover the emergence of a new Burundian rebel movement based there.
Burundi is ranked 132nd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Photo : Hassan Ruvakuki (Alexandre Niyungeko)