20/12/2018, Brussels – Protection International (PI) is taking part in the solidarity initiative with human rights defender Germain Rukuki, convicted to 32 years in prison and now awaiting the decision of the Bujumbura Court of Appeal, after his appeal hearing took place on 27 November 2018 in Ngozi. Germain’s sentence is an unprecedented one to a human rights defender in the country.
Protection International calls for Germain’s acquittal of all charges and, like last year, sends him a solidarity message: Germain #Rukuki, we are with you! PI encourages the international community, civil society organisations and individuals to relay the message on social media in all languages, to as many people as possible!
Germain was arrested in July 2017 and sentenced in April 2018 for “rebellion”, “attacking the authority of the State”, “participation in an insurrectionist movement” and “receiving contributions and funds from foreign organisations”. He appealed his conviction on 29 May and applied for bail on 26 June in order to receive medical treatment, after he fractured his anckle and injured his houlder in prison.
In his last World Report on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst expresses concerns about the severe crackdown that human rights defenders in Burundi have experienced on their fundamental freedoms since 2015. Emblematic cases are those of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, President of human rights organisation APRODH; Aimé Constant Gatore, Marius Nzigama and Emmanuel Nshimirimana, from rights-based organisation PARCEM; Nestor Nibitanga from APRODH; and Germain Rukuki, former employee of the Association of Catholic Jurists in Burundi (AJCB).