26 May 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the Ligue des Droits de la Personne dans la Region des Grand Lacs (LDGL) urge Burundian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa. He was arrested on 15 May 2014 on baseless charges of endangering state security following an interview on Burundian radio station, Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) on 6 May.
During the interview Pierre Mbonimpa noted that youth from Burundi were being armed and sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for military training and expressed concerns over the distribution of weapons to young people in Burundi. He was initially summoned by the police on 7 May and interrogated about the statements he made over radio. He was summoned again on 12 May and on 14 May. Pierre Mbonimpa was later charged with inciting public disobedience and endangering state security under Article 579 of the country’s constitution. He is currently being held at Mpimba Prison in Bujumbura.
“The arrest of Pierre Mbonimpa on trumped up charges is an affront to freedom of speech in Burundi and is symptomatic of a trend in which the authorities consistently harass, detain and intimidate those who promote the rights of the people of Burundi”, said David Kode from CIVICUS. “We urge his immediate and unconditional release.”
Pierre Mbonimpa is the president of the Association Burundaise pour la Promotion des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenue (APRODH), a human rights organisation based in Burundi which advocates for the rights of detained persons and provides assistance to victims of human rights violations in Burundi.
In their Universal Periodic Review submission on the state of human rights in Burundi in 2012, CIVICUS and LDGL expressed serious concerns over attacks and threats to civil society activists and in particular, judicial persecution of Pierre Mbonimpa because of his human rights activities.
CIVICUS and LDGL call on the government of Burundi to drop all charges against Pierre Mbonimpa and take appropriate steps to create an enabling environment for civil society activists and citizens in line with its constitutional and international human rights obligations.