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Startseite Urgent Actions 2021 08 Lawyer gets 5-year prison sentence
UA 092/21
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08.10.2021

Tony Germain Nkina’s appeal hearing was postponed first from 2 September then 13 September and finally took place on 20 September. We were hopeful for a good outcome but sadly Tony’s appeal was unsuccessful-  the court of appeal upheld his conviction on 29 September.

Here’s the joint statement we issued today on the decision:

English: see here

French: see here

We will be issuing a formal UA update next week, continuing to call for Tony’s immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you so much for your continued support and action.

Lawyer gets 5-year prison sentence

AI-Index: AFR 16/4636/2021

Burundian lawyer Tony Germain Nkina was sentenced to five years in prison on 15 June by the High Court of Kayanza province, in northern Burundi. He was arrested on 13 October 2020 while visiting a client in Kabarore commune, in Kayanza, shortly after armed attacks in the area. He was charged with endangering internal state security, and later convicted of «collaborating with rebels who attacked Burundi». On 12 August, Ngozi province’s Court of Appeal postponed the appeal hearing to 2 September. Evidence presented by the prosecution indicates the charges against Tony Germain Nkina are motivated solely by his former human rights work. Amnesty International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

APRODH was one of Burundi’s most active and best-known human rights organizations. Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, APRODH’s founder and president, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in 2015 with life-threatening injuries. Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa’s son and son-in-law were both shot dead in 2015. APRODH’s representative in Gitega province, Nestor Nibitanga, was arrested in 2017 and sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison on charges similar to those brought against Tony Germain Nkina. He was released in April 2021 as part of President Évariste Ndayishimiye’s pardon of more than 5,000 prisoners.

Another prominent human rights defender, Germain Rukuki, was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to 32 years in prison in 2018 on trumped-up charges related to his human rights work. His sentence was confirmed by the appeal court in 2019, but the appeal court’s decision was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court. The appeal court reduced his sentence to one year in June 2021. He was released the same month.

Burundi’s civil society and media organizations were among the first targets of the government repression in 2015. The government suspended or closed most independent human rights organizations and media outlets and drove them into exile. Despite some overtures by President Ndayishimiye towards the media in 2021, the Burundian government continues to view human rights work with suspicion, and severe restrictions on human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, remain in place.

Most independent human rights organizations have been unable to resume their activities in Burundi, especially as the Burundian authorities have issued arrest warrants for many of their leading activists in exile. 12 human rights defenders and journalists were among a group of 34 people sentenced to life in prison in absentia in June 2020 on accusations of involvement in an attempted coup in May 2015; the Supreme Court judgment was not made public until February 2021.

Arrest or detention as punishment for the peaceful exercise of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, is arbitrary and violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Burundi is a state party. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined that those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights must be immediately released.

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