Repression in Burundi, arrest in the DRC

03.07.2017 ( Last modified: 07.07.2017 )

Journalist Egide Mwemero was tortured in the DRC for “crimes” committed in Burundi – a case that illustrates the silencing of media outlets in the region.

African Public Radio (RPA), one of the most popular media outlets in Burundi, has been in the government’s line of fire since the beginning of the crisis. Its headquarters were ransacked and many journalists had to flee the country. The director of RPA, Bob Rugurika, was also entangled in legal troubles.

But RPA journalists, even those living in exile, continued to make their voices heard. In October 2015, they created the program Humura so they could continue informing their fellow citizens. Thanks to a partnership with the Congolese station Le Messager du Peuple (the People’s Messenger) – which broadcasts from Uvira, a city close to the Congolese-Burundian border – listeners in Burundi can tune into Humura.

The right to inform comes at a high price

Egide Mwemero is a journalist and technician at RPA. Like many of his colleagues, he took refuge in Rwanda with his family. On 13 October 2015, he was sent to Uvira to resolve a technical failure. The day of his arrival, he was arrested without explanation.

For the next six months, Egide Mwemero was detained and tortured several times. He was never able to meet his lawyer. He was kept in detention for nearly a year. On 27 September 2016, he was finally released and able to go back to Kigali, where he was reunited with his wife and their baby.

“Justice for what I lived through”

Egide has still not obtained justice. That is why TRIAL International submitted a report to the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The aim of this submission is to spur an investigation and the prosecution of the perpetrators.

“I am only asking for justice,” explains Egide Mwemero. “I hope that the perpetrators will be prosecuted and punished for what they made me endure.”