I welcome the decision of the Burundi Appeal Court of Ntahangwa to release of Human Rights Defender Germain Rukuki, who has been in detention since 13 July 2017. Since 2017, UN Special Procedures have written three communications to the Government of Burundi on Mr. Rukuki’s arbitrary detention and I raised his case with the Permanent Mission of Burundi. I’d like to acknowledge the positive outcome by the State in this case.
Mr. Rukuki is the former treasurer of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) and a member of the Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi (AJCB). His work focuses on the prevention of torture, the abolition of the death penalty and on the right to health.
Mr. Rukuki was arbitrarily arrested without a warrant, and sentenced to 32 years in prison for “rebellion, “breach of State security”, “participating in an insurrectionist movement” and “attack against the head of State”. His trial was characterised by irregularities in due process and lack of evidence to substantiate the accusations. In June 2020, his sentenced was finally quashed by the Supreme Court and handed to the Appeals Court for re-examination, which last week reduced his sentence to one year. Having served four years to date, he was released on 30 June 2021.