Appeals Court Upholds 5-Year Sentence for Tony Germain Nkina
The decision in the Court of Appeal of Ngozi to uphold the conviction and five-year prison sentence for a lawyer who had been affiliated to a human rights group in Burundi was a travesty of justice, Human Rights Watch and five other international human rights groups said today. The following is their statement:
Shocking Decision as Appeal Court Upholds Conviction of Lawyer Tony Germain Nkina
Six international human rights groups – Amnesty International, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative, DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Human Rights Watch, Protection International Africa and TRIAL International – condemned the decision of the Court of Appeal of Ngozi on 29 September to uphold the conviction and five-year prison sentence of Burundian lawyer Tony Germain Nkina following an unfair trial.
“Tony Germain Nkina’s trial was a travesty of justice,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The decision by the Court of Appeal to keep him in prison, despite all the evidence about the unfairness of the trial, makes a mockery of the Burundian justice system.”
The groups believe that Nkina, a lawyer in Kayanza province, was arrested and convicted because of his former affiliation with the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues, APRODH), a leading human rights group in Burundi until 2015.
Nkina was APRODH’s representative in Kayanza until the government suspended the organization in 2015 as part of a crackdown on independent civil society. He has not worked for APRODH or any other Burundian civil society organization for the past six years.
Nkina was arrested on 13 October 2020 in Kabarore commune, where he was visiting a client for his professional work as a lawyer. In June 2021, a court in Kayanza found him guilty of collaboration with armed groups – a common accusation against perceived opponents and critics in Burundi – and sentenced him to five years in prison. His client, Apollinaire Hitimana, whom he had been advising on a land dispute, was found guilty of complicity in the same offence and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The Court of Appeal also confirmed Hitimana’s conviction and sentence.