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Friday, March 24, 2023

    Burundi: Group Demands Release of Rights Activists

    Three human rights organisations have called on the government of Burundi to immediately and unconditionally release five human rights defenders arbitrarily arrested.

    Development Diaries reports that the five human rights activists – Sonia Ndikumasabo, Prosper Runyange, Sylvana Inamahoro, Audace Havyarimana and Marie Emerusabe – are accused of rebellion and of undermining internal state security and the functioning of public finances.

    It is understood that two of the detainees work for the Association of Women Lawyers in Burundi (AFJB) and three for the Association for Peace and the Promotion of Human Rights in Burundi (APDH).

    AFJB and APDH work on gender-based violence and land rights and are officially registered in Burundi. They help some of the most marginalised groups in Burundian society.

    The country’s Minister of Interior, Community Development and Public Security, Martin Niteretse, in February, accused the organisations of working with an international non-governmental organisation (INGO).

    ‘The arrests of the five human rights defenders and the serious charges brought against them signal a worsening climate for independent civil society in Burundi’, Africa researcher at HRW, Clémentine de Montjoye, said.

    ‘If working in partnership with or receiving funding from international groups is treated as a criminal offence and a threat to state security, the little space left for civil society to operate in Burundi will be closed’.

    According to AFJB and APDH, these arrests appear to be designed to punish the human rights defenders and their organisations for collaborating with an international organisation, obstruct their organisations’ activities, and intimidate other activists.

    Freedom House categorised Burundi as ‘not free’ in its 2023 Freedom in the World report of political rights and civil liberties, with the country earning 14 points out of a possible 100.

    Development Diaries calls on Burundian authorities to immediately release the rights defenders as international human rights law and standards permit these organisations to seek, obtain, and use financial resources, including from foreign and international sources.

    Source: HRW

    Photo source: Needpix

    Jesse Kolo
    Jesse Kolohttps://www.impacthouse.ltd
    Jesse Kolo is a communications enthusiast who devotes his time to writing, surfing the internet and learning new technology. He is a graduate of Physics from the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State.

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