April 28, 2018

BURUNDI: Human Rights Activist Sentenced For 32 Years Over Protests. 😦 They Freed 740 Prisoners Last Month For Taking Part In Protests Against The President In 2015. Now This!

Reuters News
written by George Obulutsa, Editing by William Maclean
Friday April 26, 2018

NAIROBI - A Burundian court jailed a human rights activist for 32 years late on Thursday, Amnesty International said, criticizing what it called a wrongful conviction based on fabricated charges.

Burundian government and judiciary officials were not immediately reachable for comment.

Amnesty said in a statement on Friday the charges against Germain Rukuki included “being part of an insurrection movement in 2015” during protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza.

“This conviction – built on an array of charges fabricated by the authorities - must be overturned, and Germain released immediately,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Burundi has been gripped by a political crisis since April of that year, when Nkurunziza announced he would stand for a third term, which the opposition said violated the constitution as well as a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war.
The Burundian president is trying to pull the same crap as the Guinea president bypassing term limits to force a dictatorship upon nation. (emphasis mine)
He won a vote largely boycotted by the opposition, but protests sparked a government crackdown that has killed more than 700 people, displaced over 400,000 to neighboring countries and left the economy moribund.

Amnesty said Rukuki, head of the Njabutsa Tujane community organization and an employee of the Burundian Catholic Lawyers Association, was arrested in July 2017 over involvement in the protests.

He was charged a month later with threatening state security and “rebellion” for being an employee of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT)-Burundi, Amnesty said.

“Germain Rukuki’s wrongful conviction and shockingly excessive jail sentence violate his rights and are an insult to justice,” Magango said. “He has committed no crime, but has rather been persecuted for daring to speak out against the human rights violations in Burundi.”
African Medias
written by AFP staff
March 16, 2018

Burundi on Friday freed 740 prisoners, most of whom had been imprisoned after taking part in protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015, the government announced.

The detainees were released from Bujumbura’s Mpimba prison — the country’s largest — after a ceremony presided over by Justice Minister Aimee-Laurentine Kanyana, with several western ambassadors in attendance.

Their release came in the wake of a presidential pardon at the turn of last year.

Of the 740 released, 450 had been “sentenced for taking part in the insurrectional movement of 2015,” Kanyana said, using the official term for protests that ran from late April to mid-June 2015.

A western diplomat who saw the ceremony said, “We heard that there would be many prisoners of opinion who were freed.”

“It’s good news if that’s the case,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We will check before speaking on an official basis.”

In 2015, the authorities released a number of opposition candidates, again in the context of a presidential pardon, but grassroots groups said the tally of those released was smaller than announced, and was followed by a wave of re-arrests.

The minister on Friday warned those released against committing “any re-offence,” saying this would lead to life imprisonment.

The governor of Mpimba prison said the release would help to ease conditions in the overcrowded facility.

Around 2,800 people, most of them convicted for common-law offences, have been released since the start of 2018 under the latest pardon.

The tiny central African state was plunged into political crisis in April 2015 when Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term which he went on to win.

Post-election violence claimed at least 1,200 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation.

The president has launched a campaign to hold a referendum on a new constitution, probably in May, that would set a limit of two seven-year presidential terms.

Doing so would enable Nkurunziza to stand again in 2020 and again in 2027.

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