Three Burundi schoolgirls face jail for doodling on President’s photo

The girls, who are all minors, were arrested last week and were on Monday charged with 'insulting the head of state,' according to the human rights group. They are on remand while they await trial for drawing on President Pierre Nkurunziza's face during one of their classes, Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch told CNN.A 13-year-old girl was released for being below the age of criminal responsibility while four others arrested alongside the schoolgirls were released.Mudge said textbooks in Burundi's school system are often passed in between classes and it is, therefore, difficult to know who scribbled on the President's image in the first place. "It's ridiculous that we're at a point where we even have to ask or interject this point in a conversation. These are schoolgirls that are being detained," he said.CNN was not immediately able to reach the Burundi government for comment on the case. School children in Burundi have previously been jailed in the past for similar offenses.In 2016, agents of the National Intelligence Service of Burundi arrested eight secondary school students for allegedly insulting Nkurunziza by writing phrases like "Get out" or "No to the 3rd term" on a picture of the President in a textbook, according to Human Rights Watch. The same year, hundreds of children were expelled from several schools for scribbling on the President's face in their books.President Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, was re-elected to a third term in 2015 despite massive protests and concerns over the legality of running beyond his second term.But Burundi's constitutional court ruled that he was eligible because he was picked by parliament, not elected by people, during his first term. Scores died in the violence that marred the 2015 vote.Burundi President registers to run for third term despite clashes Human Rights Watch said the case was "quickly becoming the benchmark for a crackdown of fOriginal Article

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