Burundi schoolgirls detained for scribbling on President Nkurunziza’s photo

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FILE PHOTO: Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza claps after signing the new constitution at the Presidential Palace in Gitega Province, Burundi June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza claps after signing the new constitution at the Presidential Palace in Gitega Province, Burundi June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana/File Photo

Authorities in Burundi have charged three schoolgirls for allegedly defacing the picture of the country’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, printed in school text books.

A spokeswoman for the country’s Supreme Court confirmed that the three girls were detained and a full trial will go on. They face up to five years in prison if found guilty of the offence.

The three girls were among seven students arrested in the northeast province of Kirundo last week. The other four, three girls and a boy, were subsequently released.

Local activists and Human Rights Watch condemned the incident.

“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,” Lewis Mudge of Human Rights Watch said.

This is not the first-time schoolchildren have been on the receiving end of the law for such offences.

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