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Germain Rukuki Detained

Status: 
Sentence upheld on appeal
About the situation

On 26 November Germain Rukuki appeared in court in Ngozi, Burundi before the Bujumbura Court of Appeal. The human rights defender is appealing his sentence of 32 years which was handed down on 26 April 2018. No decision was made during the hearing and Germain Rukuki continues to be held in prison.

On 26 April, 2018, the Ntahangwa High Court in Burundi sentenced Germain Rukuki to 32 years in prison on charges of “rebellion”, “breach of State security”, “participation in an insurrectional movement” and "attack on the head of state".

About Germain Rukuki

germain_rukuki.jpegGermain Rukuki is a human rights defender working for Association des juristes catholiques du Burundi – AJCB (Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi). He previously worked for Action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture – ACAT-Burundi (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) which fights for the respect of human dignity in Burundi, and particularly for the abolition of torture and the death penalty. ACAT-Burundi was suspended by the government in November 2015 as part of its clampdown on civil society organisations.

27 April 2018
Thirty-two-year sentence handed down to human rights defender, Germain Rukuki

UPDATE: On 26 November Germain Rukuki appeared in court in Ngozi, Burundi before the Bujumbura Court of Appeal. The human rights defender is appealing his sentence of 32 years which was handed down on 26 April 2018. No decision was made during the hearing and Germain Rukuki continues to be held in prison.

On 26 April, 2018, the Ntahangwa High Court in Burundi sentenced Germain Rukuki to 32 years in prison on charges of “rebellion”, “breach of State security”, “participation in an insurrectional movement” and "attack on the head of state".

Download Urgent Appeal

The human rights defender was arrested without a warrant on 13 July 2017 and held by the Service National de Renseignement - SNR (National Intelligence Service) before being transferred to Ngozi Prison on  26 July 2017, where he has been held since.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the charges against Germain Rukuki, as well as the lengthy sentence he has received, which it believes is due to his work in defence of human rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Burundi to:

1.  Drop all charges against Germain Rukuki as Front Line Defenders believes that he is being detained and charged solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Immediately and unconditionally release Germain Rukuki and ensure his liberty and security;

3. Cease targeting all human rights defenders in all circumstances so that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

13 April 2018
Charges reaffirmed

On 3 April 2018, a hearing was held for Burundian human rights defender Germain Rukuki at Ntahangwa High Court. With his lawyers present, the public prosecutor reaffirmed the charges against the human rights defender of having cooperated in "the assassination of soldiers, police and civilians", "the execution of an attack with the goal of changing the constitutional regime and to incite citizens to arm themselves against the authority of the State", "the destruction of public and private buildings" and "resistance of a ministerial order", as well as having directly assisted "in barricades, entrenchments or any other work designed to impede or halt the exercise of law enforcement" and having received funds from foreign organisations "which are likely to undermine the loyalty that citizens owe to the state and institutions of Burundi". The public prosecutor requested that Germain Rukuki be given a life sentence. The court will release a judgment within 30 days of the hearing.

The first hearing of the trial against the human rights defender took place on 13 February 2018. On 17 August 2017, the Ntahangwa High Court in Burundi confirmed that Germain Rukuki would remain in pre-trial detention.

21 August 2017
Court confirms pre-trial detention of Germain Rukuki

UPDATE: On 13 February 2018, Germain Rukuki appeared before Ntahangwa High Court, having been detained since 13 July 2017. The next hearing in the human rights defender's trial is scheduled for 27 February 2018.

On 17 August 2017, the Court of First Instance of Ntahangwa in Burundi confirmed that human rights defender Germain Rukuki will remain in pre-trial detention in connection with allegations of ‘breaching the internal security of the State’ and ‘rebellion.’

The Public Prosecutor reiterated the two charges of ‘breaching the internal security of the State’ and ‘rebellion’ which were announced at his initial hearing on 1 August 2017. Germain Rukuki has been held at Ngozi Prison since 26 July 2017. The human rights defender was arrested by police without a warrant on 13 July 2017 and held for two weeks by the Service National de Renseignement - SNR (National Intelligence Service).

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the continued detention and charges against Germain Rukuki, and urges authorities in Burundi to immediately and unconditionally release him, as it believes that he has been targeted due to his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights.

1 August 2017
Germain Rukuki Detained

On 26 July 2017, human rights defender Germain Rukuki was moved to Ngozi prison after being held for fourteen days by the Service National de Renseignement - SNR (National Intelligence Service) in Burundi without being informed of the charges against him.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

On the evening of 26 July 2017, Germain Rukuki was transferred from the SNR to Ngozi prison, without appearing before a magistrate to hear the charges against him. Ngozi prison reportedly has a reputation for holding political prisoners and for torture. Germain Rukuki had been held for fourteen days by the SNR following the search of his home and his arrest by police without a warrant on 13 July 2017.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the detention of Germain Rukuki which it believes is directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work as a human rights defender in Burundi.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Burundi to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Germain Rukuki, as Front Line Defenders believes that he is being targeted solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Germain Rukuki;

3. Ensure that the treatment of Germain Rukuki, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

4. Cease all targeting of human rights defenders in Burundi and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.