Burundi

Burundi, one of Africa's most corrupt countries, has arrested a prominent anti-graft activist after he alleged judges were forced to pay bribes before being appointed, the campaigner's lawyer said. Faustin Ndikumana, head of the Burundi advocacy group PARCEM, told a news conference last week he had written to Justice Minister Pascal Barandagiye alleging that newly-appointed judges had told his organisation they were asked to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 in return for employment.

There are fears of a looming food shortage in Burundi after heavy rains damaged two successive harvests, say officials. 'More than half of the expected harvest was lost in flooding and siltation,' Methode Niyongendako, a consultant with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said. The rains peaked in mid-September and November, exceeding forecasts in terms of volume and frequency, and were the heaviest since October 1961, according to households questioned, added Niyongendako.

Burundi has made some progress in consolidating peace, but recent developments could reverse gains, according to the UN top envoy in the country. Karen Landgren told the UN Security Council that efforts to preserve the peace are being marred by human rights challenges and politically-motivated killings.

The Burundi Security Council has recommended that the president impose sanctions against media and civil society groups who made comments over September’s massacre in a Gatumban bar that claimed the lives of more than 39 people. 'We recommend the empowered authorities take remedial measures or sanctions against the media and civil society groups who violated the law,' said Major General Pontien Gaciyubwenge, the Burundian minister of defence.

Burundi government officials should halt their intensifying pressure on journalists, Human Rights Watch said. In the last few weeks, journalists have been summonsed by state prosecuting authorities for questioning with increasing frequency in response to radio broadcasts implicating state agents in alleged human rights abuses. Senior government officials, including three ministers, have stepped up public warnings against the media in recent days, threatening them with legal action.

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