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Friday, March 22, 2019

3 schoolgirls in Burundi risk being jailed for scribbling on the president's photo in their textbooks

3 schoolgirls in Burundi risk being jailed for five years for scribbling on President Pierre Nkurunziza’s photo in their textbooks, says campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

HRW said the three were arrested last week and are awaiting trial after being charged on Monday with insulting the Burundi head of state.

Last week, Burundi authorities arrested seven school children. Four of them, including a 13-year-old, were freed immediately. The remaining three, all under the age of 18, spent the weekend in prison and could face up to 5 years behind bars.

HRW director for Central Africa Lewis Mudge said the father of one of the girls said on Saturday they were "too scared to eat".

Mr Mudge added: "With so many real crimes being committed in Burundi, it’s tragic that children are the ones being prosecuted for harmless scribbles. Authorities should focus on holding perpetrators of serious rights violations to account instead of jailing school children for doodles."

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