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Thursday, 16 January 2020 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Burundi, notably the freedom of expression

  Neena Gill (S&D). – Madam President, it pains me to follow that presentation, but I want to focus on Burundi and on Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi. They were journalists just doing their job, investigating and holding the government to account. Now they face up to 15 years in jail. They were arrested on charges of undermining state security, but really these attacks on media freedom are aimed at preventing the world from knowing about serious human rights abuses happening in Burundi.

So, my questions to the Commission. What will the European External Action Service (EEAS) do to pressure the government to release these four journalists? How will it use its leverage, such as the EUR 400 million allocated in the European Development Fund? And as elections approach in May, how will the Commission ensure that President Nkurunziza acts to protect what is left of freedom of expression in Burundi and that there are free and peaceful elections?

This is perhaps my last speech in this plenary and it has been an honour and a privilege to be able to speak up for those who are less able to do so; a platform that I’ve been able to use to speak against human rights abuses around the world.

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