Three female school children have inadvertently found themselves in hot water after they were arrested for insulting Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza after doodles on the president’s photo were found in their school books. The girls face up to 5 years in prison if they are convicted.
The three kids who are all below the age of 18 have been remanded in custody and on Thursday (today)a judge extended their pre-trial detention and ordered them to be transferred to the minor’s section of Ngozi central prison for women while investigations continue.
According to Human Rights Watch, the three were arrested last week and are awaiting trial after being charged on Monday with insulting the head of state.
The agency also said the authorities had initially arrested seven schoolchildren last week, but 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.
HRW director for Central Africa Lewis Mudge said
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 schoolchildren for doodles.
4/5 This is not the first time children are targeted with political repression in Burundi. In 2016 authorities also arrested schoolchildren for doodling on images of Nkurunziza.https://t.co/uUQKVElFcK pic.twitter.com/D0uGNTC7KV
— Lewis Mudge (@LewisMudge) March 20, 2019