Bujumbura: appearance of 5 human rights defenders

Bujumbura: appearance of 5 human rights defenders

The 5 human rights defenders were heared on Monday afternoon at the central prison of Bujumbura, called Mpimba. The Burundi’s penal code provides that a decision is expected this Wednesday. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

It is the court of Ntahangwa (north of Bujumbura) in the commercial city which heard them while itinerant. Judges motivated their hearing of the defendants in the prison, by a logistical problem.

The five activists were assisted by two lawyers, learned SOS Médias Burundi. The lawyer did not want to speak on this case, which is also less commented on by human rights organizations.

The concerned had been heard by a judge on February 16, two days after their arrest. They were interrogated on “acts of attack on the internal security of the State and the questionable use of their funds” in particular, a source close to the file told SOS Médias Burundi.

In a statement to the local press on February 16, the Burundian minister for internal affairs and security revealed the reasons behind the arrest of these human rights defenders.

“[…], these people work with an NGO which withdrew from Burundi during the 2015-2020 legislature, and unfortunately this NGO continued to work with approved and unapproved civil society organizations in Burundi”, Minister Niteretse said.

Doubtful source of funds

According to Martin Niteretse, this NGO grants funds to Burundian associations unofficially.

“The reports that these non-profit organizations produce and send to the Ministry of the Interior, Community Development and Public Security make no trace of this funding. So we gradually conducted investigations three months ago and curiously we concluded that these approved or not recognized non-profit organizations and obviously work with this foreign NGO, “added the Burundian official who said that the four people apprehended at the airport Bujumbura were going to Kampala for a meeting “scheduled by the same NGO as part of setting up a steering committee”.


“The results we have at the moment show us that there is a high probability of terrorist financing risk through these funds. We must be vigilant on all points so that nothing disturbs peace and public order,” he concluded.

The act of terrorism is punishable by prison time of ten to twenty years and a fine of two hundred thousand to one million Burundian francs, according to the penal code in force in Burundi. If the act results in the death of one or more persons, it is punishable by life imprisonment.

Since President Ndayishimiye came to power in June 2020, three activists, including one who was arrested after his inauguration, have been released. Before the arrest of the five human rights defenders, no activist was in prison in the small East African nation.

Previous North-Kivu : a hundred women victims of rape perpetrated by M23 rebels (civil society)
Next Bujumbura : watetezi watano wa haki za binadamu waripoti mahakamani