Annual Report: Burundi 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Burundi 2013

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  • In February, Faustin Ndikumana, President of the organization Words and Action for the Awakening of Conscience and the Evolution of Mindsets, spent two weeks in custody, solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, before being released on bail. He had made public comments to the media after he wrote to the Minister of Justice asking him to investigate and halt corruption in the recruitment of judges. In July, the Anti-Corruption Court found him guilty of making false statements and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 Burundian francs (approx. US$333). The judgement had not been enforced by the end of the year.

Draft legislation, if enacted in its current form, could threaten freedom of expression and association. A draft law on demonstrations and public meetings would give the authorities disproportionate powers to close down public meetings. A draft of the revised press law included new provisions introducing circumstances in which journalists must disclose sources, an increased number of possible press-related crimes, excessive state regulation of the press, and exorbitant fines for journalists who violate provisions of the law and the Penal Code.

>Prison conditions

Inmates were kept in extremely insanitary conditions and thousands were held in pre-trial detention.

President Nkurunziza passed a decree on 25 June granting pardon to prisoners serving a term of five years or less (excluding those sentenced for rape, armed robbery, armed robbery in organized gangs, illegal possession of firearms or threatening state security), pregnant or breastfeeding women, prisoners aged 60 and over, minors aged under 18 who have not been tried and prisoners suffering from terminal illness. All other sentences were reduced by half. In April, 10,567 prisoners were held in 11 prisons with a combined capacity of only 4,050. This number had decreased to 6,581 by the end of December.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Burundi in May.
  • Burundi: Free activist who spoke out – Faustin Ndikumana (AFR 16/001/2012) and further information (AFR 16/002/2012)
  • Burundi: Time for change – a human rights review: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (AFR 16/003/2012)
  • Burundi: Verdict in activist’s killing fails to deliver justice (PRE01/262/2012)