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Three rights activists sentenced to 10 years in Burundi

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Three civil rights activists in Burundi accused of undermining security have been sentenced in their absence to 10 years in prison, judicial sources said on Friday.

Emmanuel Nshimirimana, Aime Constant Gatore and Marius Nizigiyimana, members of the campaign group Parcem, had been planning a human rights workshop, according to fellow activists.

“Our friends have not yet been officially notified but it is unfortunately confirmed,” Faustin Ndikumana, the head of Parcem said.

The sentence was confirmed by judicial sources.

They were arrested in June last year in possession of documents about the rights workshop, which the court said included comments from opposition activists but not government officials, Ndikumana claimed.

Judges at the court in Muramvya, in central Burundi, announced the verdict without representation from the defendants’ lawyers, an activist who asked not to be named said.

The prosecutor had requested between 20 and 25 years imprisonment for the trio who were accused of having “prepared actions likely to disrupt security”.

“This is the first time in history that members of a civil society group in Burundi have been sentenced in this way, a sign that power no longer tolerates civil society in our country,” Gabriel Rufyiri, a well-known activist in the country, said.

Burundi has been facing a serious political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 sought a fiercely contested third term in office.

The violence has claimed at least 1 200 lives and displaced more than 400 000 people between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation.

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PM Abiy reiterates Ethiopia’s decision over latest clampdown.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally spoken on ongoing anti-corruption and rights abuse clampdown stating that there was not going to be any backing down let alone retreat.

A statement from the Abiy’s office issued in Amharic tasked citizens to rally behind the development as a means of ridding the country of lawlessness and criminal elements.

State-affiliated FBC reported that the statement titled, ‘Let’s Fight (the) Cancer,’ said the government was bent on bringing people behind injustices to book.



The statement said the underlying objective of recent arrests was to get rid of Ethiopia criminals. “… criminals do not care about ethnicity, country, or morality; they only care for themselves.

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“The key to justice is to create a system for innocent citizens to live in freedom and dignity while criminals are held accountable and punished in accordance with the law,” the statement read in part.

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Since early this week, authorities have announced the arrest of over sixty former military and intelligence officials arrested in connection with rights abuse in prisons and gross corruption in the military run business conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation, MetEC.

A former head of MetEC, Kinfe Dagnew; and a former intelligence chiefs, Tekleberhan Woldearegay and Yared Zerihun have all been detained and put before courts in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Head of security at the state monopoly, Ethio Telecom, Gudeta Olana, has also been arrested as has head of the entity and brother of ex-MetEC boss, Essayas Dagnew.

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New Zealand denies refusing refugees with holiday visas entry.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, rejected allegations that the country’s government was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.



“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas,’’ he added.

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The country assessed all applications for visitor visas on a case-by-case basis. This applies regardless of a person’s country of origin or nationality.

The country is under pressure to transfer the remaining 30 children from the island.

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