August 9, 2016
FOUR Burundi lawyers involved in the compilation of a report indicting the government of torture are facing reprisals.
Lawyers Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana, compiled the report for the United Nations Committee against Torture.
The committee has sent a letter to the Burundian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland seeking urgent reassurances that no member of Burundian civil society would be subject to reprisals for cooperating with the committee.
On 29 July, a Burundian prosecutor asked the President of the Bujumbura Bar Council to strike the lawyers off, alleging that they had committed several offences, including involvement in an insurrectionist movement and an attempted coup.
The UN committee’s letter, signed by Chair Jens Modvig and Rapporteur on Reprisals, Alessio Bruni, noted the prosecutor requested sanctions against the lawyers, rather than an inquiry to establish the facts.
This concern is stronger given that the prosecutor’s request came as the Burundian delegation, presided over by the Minister of Justice, indicated they would not be participating in the second session of dialogue with the committee, citing the alternative report by Burundian civil society.
The committee is due to publish its findings on Friday.