Free Journalist Jailed Without Charge


Target: Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi

Goal: Free journalist wrongfully jailed for refusing to reveal his sources.

Investigative journalist Bob Rugurika has been threatened and harassed for years as a result of his work, but recently he was arrested for a report he aired on African Public Radio that dealt with the murder of three elderly Italian nuns. His right to freedom of expression has been violated, and his treatment while in custody has been unnecessarily harsh given the nature of the charges likely to be brought against him. Sign the petition and demand freedom for Bob Rugurika.

The report that prompted Rugurika’s arrest consisted of an interview with a source who claimed to be involved in the nuns’ murder and pointed the finger at high-ranking intelligence officials as well. Rugurika, in line with his rights as a journalist, has refused to name his source, which prompted his arrest. According to Amnesty International, he “is likely to be charged with complicity in the murder, obstructing the course of justice through violating confidentiality of a criminal investigation, harboring a criminal and lacking public solidarity.” Additionally, he was kept in isolation at the beginning of his imprisonment, a provision that was both unnecessary and cruel.

Journalists should only be compelled to reveal their sources in exceptional circumstances. If Rugurika is being pressured to reveal his source, he must be allowed to challenge this order before a court. He must also be allowed to carry out his work free from harassment and intimidation.

Freedom of expression is a universal human right and must be protected. Sign the petition below to demand that Rugurika be released from prison and his rights as a journalist be respected.


Your Excellency,

I am writing to urge the immediate release of Bob Rugurika, a journalist who has been imprisoned as a result of an investigative report he aired on the murder of three elderly Italian nuns. Although he has not yet been formally charged, he is likely to face a slew of charges, some of which carry long prison sentences, all for simply doing his job. I demand that the government of Burundi respect its citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and allow journalists the freedom to carry out their work unfettered.

Many of Rugurika’s charges stem from his refusal to name one of his sources, a man who claimed to have been involved in the murders and who also accused several high-ranking intelligence officials of involvement in the crime. If Rugurika is to be compelled to disclose his source, he must be allowed the opportunity to contest this order in court. Furthermore, the Burundian government must acknowledge and respect Rugurika’s right to freedom of expression, a right guaranteed under a number of international human rights treaties.

I urge you to do what is right: Release Bob Rugurika immediately while the charges against him are pending and ensure that any charges that are eventually brought against him are legally and ethically sound.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

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