Tag Archives: Burundi

Burundi: UN experts call for release of Burundi human rights defender Germain Rukuki

August 27, 2017

A group of United Nations experts* has called on the authorities in Burundi to release a human rights defender who has been detained since 13 July 2017 and faces serious charges including rebellion.

“We are concerned by the seemingly arbitrary detention of Germain Rukuki, which is evidently linked to his work in defending human rights,” the experts said.

“We are particularly dismayed by the decision of Higher Court of Ntahangwa to hold him in custody despite the lack of concrete indications of guilt, which the country’s criminal code sets as a precondition for keeping someone in preventative detention.

“We call on the Burundian authorities to release Mr. Rukuki, to guarantee his physical and psychological wellbeing, and to ensure that the proceedings against him are carried out with full respect for due process.”

Mr. Rukuki has been formally charged with attacking the internal security of the State, and with rebellion for having worked for the NGO Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT), where he is a previous treasurer. ACAT was banned in October 2016, along with four other Burundian organizations.

http://www.newkerala.com/news/fullnews-266916.html

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21997&LangID=E

http://protectioninternational.org/2017/08/04/statement-protection-international-insists-immediate-release-germain-rukuki/

https://www.fidh.org/fr/themes/defenseurs-des-droits-humains/burundi-transfert-de-m-germain-rukuki-poursuite-de-sa-detention (FRANCAIS)

https://www.fidh.org/fr/themes/defenseurs-des-droits-humains/burundi-detention-arbitraire-de-mr-germain-rukuki (FRANCAIS)

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Burundi: Public Statement – The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses deep concern about the disbarment of lawyers Vital Nshimirimana, Armel Niyongere, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and suspension of lawyer Lambert Nigarura in Burundi

February 24, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses deep concern about the disbarment of lawyers Vital Nshimirimana, Armel Niyongere, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and the suspension of lawyer Lambert Nigarura in Burundi.

Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana are Burundian human rights lawyers who are openly critical of the Burundian government’s human rights violations and have represented victims of such crimes before international courts.

Recently, these four lawyers contributed to a report on human rights violations in Burundi. This report was discussed during a session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture on July 28 and 29, 2016. Three of the four lawyers attended the session.

On July 29, 2016, the President of the Bar Association in Bujumbura, Burundi received a request from the Attorney General of the Court of Bujumbura, Burundi to disbar Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana. The lawyers were accused of non-compliance with professional ethics and several criminal offences, including “involvement in an insurrectionist movement” and an attempted coup. However, because no criminal case had been brought against the lawyers and no other justification for the requested disbarment existed, the President of the Bujumbura Bar Association, on September 27, 2016, decided to dismiss the Attorney General’s request and refused to sanction the four lawyers.

This decision was appealed to the Bujumbura Court of Appeal and overturned on January 16, 2017. Consequently, Vital Nshimirimana, Armel Niyongere and Dieudonné Bashirahishize were disbarred from the Bujumbura Bar Association, while Lambert Nigarura was suspended for one year and excluded from the Council of Bujumbura Bar for five years.

The Law Society is troubled by the arbitrariness of these sanctions, especially in light of the fact that the trial itself was reportedly replete with procedural irregularities, one of which was the Court of Appeal’s refusal to allow the lawyers to be represented by their counsel.

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/public-statement—the-law-society-of-upper-canada-expresses-deep-concern-about-the-disbarment-of-lawyers-vital-nshimirimana-armel-niyongere-dieudonne-bashirahishize-and-suspension-of-lawyer-lambert-nigarura-in-614721784.html

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503541 (FRANCAIS)

http://images.lexbase.fr/sst/CIB/lettre1_13.pdf (FRANCAIS)

Burundi: Représailles contre quatre avocats engagés dans la défense des droits humains

le 18 janvier, 2017

L’Observatoire pour la protection des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme (partenariat OMCT-FIDH) condamne fermement la décision de la Cour d’appel de Bujumbura qui a confirmé la radiation d’Armel Niyongere, Vital Nshimirimana et Dieudonné Bashirahishize du Barreau de Bujumbura. La Cour a également suspendu pour un an Lambert Nigarura et lui a interdit de siéger au Conseil de l’ordre pendant cinq ans.

Le 16 janvier 2017, la Cour d’appel de Bujumbura a décidé de radier de l’ordre des avocats de Bujumbura MM. Armel Niyongere, président de l’ACAT-Burundi et directeur de SOS-Torture/Burundi, Vital Nshimirimana, délégué général du Forum pour le renforcement de la société civile(FORSC) et Dieudonné Bashirahishize, vice-président de l’Association des barreaux de la Communauté d’Afrique de l’Est. La Cour a également décidé de suspendre pour une période d’un an M. Lambert Nigarura, président de la Coalition burundaise pour la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), et lui a interdit de siéger au Conseil de l’ordre pendant cinq ans.

Cette décision fait suite à la participation des quatre défenseurs à la session d’examen du Burundi par le Comité contre la torture (CAT) des Nations unies. Les quatre défenseurs avaient tous participé à la production du rapport alternatif soumis au CAT sur la pratique généralisée de la torture au Burundi, avec l’appui de l’OMCT. Ils sont accusés de « participation à un mouvement insurrectionnel », « tentative de coup d’Etat », « trafic d’images » et « prise de position en violation des règles déontologiques ». Le 29 septembre 2016, l’Ordre des avocats du Burundi avait déclaré « non fondée » puis classée sans suite la demande de radiation transmise le 29 juillet 2016 par le procureur général près de la Cour d’appel de Bujumbura.

 

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https://www.fidh.org/fr/themes/defenseurs-des-droits-humains/represailles-contre-quatre-avocats-engages-dans-la-defense-des-droits

Burundi: Bujumbura Court of Appeal disbars four lawyers

January 17, 2017

Kiyuku Salvator, chairman of Burundi Bar Association “We deplore the fact that the Court of Appeal refused the defense lawyers to represent their clients…..”

Bujumbura Court of Appeal decided on 16 January to disbar three lawyers from the Bujumbura Bar Association while another one is suspended for one year and excluded from the Council of Bujumbura Bar for five years. The chairman of Bujumbura Bar says the trial is characterized by many irregularities.

Lawyers Vital Nshimirimana, Armel Niyongere, Dieudonnee Bashirahishize were disbarred from the Bujumbura Bar Association while Lambert Nigarura was suspended for one year and excluded from the Council of Bujumbura Bar for five years . They were all accused of non-compliance with professional ethics.

“We were not surprised by this decision of the Court of Appeal of Bujumbura to ban us from the list of Bujumbura Bar lawyers. Given how the trial took place, there were many procedural violations and even the violation of the Basic Law in its Article 38 to refuse our defense lawyers to represent us in the trial, “says Armel Niyongere, one of the four lawyers disbarred.

He accuses the Government of taking harsh measures against them because of their involvement in the denunciation of human rights violations and in defending the victims of crimes committed in Burundi before international courts, in particular the International Criminal Court -ICC.

For Niyongere, this measure is a non-event. He says they will continue their struggle against impunity in Burundi and these reprisals strengthen them in their struggle.

“Even though we do not expect much from Burundi justice because it is not independent, we are going to respect all the appeal process internally, if need be, externally so that the international justice handles our case, “says Niyongere.

http://www.iwacu-burundi.org/englishnews/bujumbura-court-of-appeal-disbars-four-lawyers/

https://article.wn.com/view/2017/01/18/Burundi_Bujumbura_Court_of_Appeal_Disbars_Four_Lawyers/

https://www.fidh.org/fr/themes/defenseurs-des-droits-humains/represailles-contre-quatre-avocats-engages-dans-la-defense-des-droits (FRANCAIS)

Burundi: Armel Niyongere: A duty to protect the voiceless in conflict-ridden Burundi, even in exile

December 15, 2016

OMCT logo

Armel Niyongere loves the law. He became a lawyer because he cannot bear injustice. Living in war-torn Burundi were human rights violations occur on a daily basis, he decided to defend the voiceless victims. But this noble choice has a price: exile.

“Living outside the country with my family is difficult,” he said. “I see that they are in danger, that I am in danger.”

Harassed and threatened by the Burundian Government that also issued an international arrest warrant against him, Mr. Niyongere was forced to leave his home country in 2015 – and to take his family with him. Mr. Niyongere was among those who said it was unconstitutional for Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third presidential term in April 2015. The candidacy announcement sparked weeks of widespread demonstrations, a failed coup attempt, and the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators framed as “terrorists”.

This permanent state of violence, with killings and injury of protesters and police officers having become routine, takes place in a country that had already suffered two ethnically-based genocides and a 12-year civil war that had left some 300,000 dead. It raises concern over another looming civil war and humanitarian crisis fuelled by propaganda aimed at dividing the country along ethnic lines.

In this unrest, the anti-torture organization Mr. Niyongere heads, Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT Burundi), was quickly outlawed, as were many other civil-society organizations that had been monitoring the human rights situation in Burundi. Its funding was frozen, leaving it incapable of any action from inside the country.

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/statements/burundi/2016/12/d24116/

Burundi: Four lawyers face disbarment

October 27, 2016

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Lawyers Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana, are seriously threatened in the exercise of their profession, since the Burundi authorities have requested the disbarment of these lawyers.

The four lawyers were involved in drafting a report on human rights violations in Burundi. This report was discussed during a session of the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva on 28 and July 29, 2016. Three of the four lawyers attended the session.

The government delegation of Burundi did not appear on the second day of the session. On that same day, the President of the Bar Association in Bujumbura, Burundi, received a request of the Attorney General of the Court of Bujumbura to disbar the lawyers. The lawyers are accused of involvement in several crimes, including “involvement in an insurrectionist movement.” If these lawyers were disbarred, this would mean they cannot exercise their profession anymore.

L4L and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) addressed ajoint letter to the President of the Republic of Burundi which has highlighted the UN Basic Principles on the Rights of Lawyers. Lawyers should be able to perform all of their professional functions without fear of (administrative) sanctions.

Burundi Four lawyers face disbarment

Burundi: Government threatens reprisals and walks out during special review by UN Committee against Torture

August 12, 2016

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

Version française ci-dessous

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) strongly condemns the failure of Burundian authorities to provide adequate reassurance that four prominent lawyers will not face reprisals after providing testimony to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT). We also note with extreme concern the reluctance of the Burundian delegation to the United Nations to engage with the CAT in any meaningful way during the country’s special examination on 28 and 29 July 2016.

On 29 July, the Prosecutor General at the Court of Appeal of Bujumbura sent a letter to the President of the Burundi Bar Association asking to disbar Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize, and Vital Nshimirimana, for their alleged involvement in an insurrectionist movement and an attempted coup.

However, as the CAT notes in a letter to the Burundian delegation on this subject, the Prosecutor General requested sanctions, rather than an inquiry to establish the facts, “which raises concern with respect to presumption of innocence.” The CAT also drew attention to the timing of the request, which DefendDefenders believes was made due to their engagement to ensure perpetrators of rights violations in Burundi are held to account.

The four lawyers and the organisations they represent contributed to an alternative report, which was submitted to the CAT by 17 civil society organisations including DefendDefenders, ahead of its 58th session. The report describes the alarming situation in Burundi since its last review in 2014, and highlights the worsening situation in light of the 2015 political crisis. It documents numerous violations of the Convention against Torture, including an increase of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and an increase in extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. Three of the lawyers attended the 58th session of the CAT in Geneva.

Burundi: Government threatens reprisals and walks out during special review by UN Committee against Torture

http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2016/09/un-report-highlights-worsening-human-rights-situation-in-burundi.php