Burundian human rights activist Germain Rukuki has been freed after spending four years in jail.
Rukuki was, in 2018, sentenced to 32 years imprisonment on trumpuped charges that included threatening agents of state security and being part of an insurrection during protests in 2015 against late President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Last week, a court of appeal in Bujumbura reduced the rights activist’s sentence to one year, paving the path for his eventual release.
Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice-President said after the rights activist’s arrest that he was “…tried behind closed doors within the Ngozi prison,charges brought last minute without investigation, lawyers prevented from accessing parts of the file,Germain Rukuki’s harsh sentence clearly illustrates the Burundian authorities’willingness to silence all human rights defenders in the country”
Last December, President Evariste Ndayishimiye acquitted four journalists who had spent a year in prison for ‘undermining state security’ under his predecessor, charges that they all denied.
After a year on power, President Ndayishimiye has been praised for positive moves toward human rights, press freedom and reviving the country’s international relations.
Although Ndayishimiye’s emergence raised hopes for better political engagements after many years of repression, the country’s opposition and other rights activists continue to decry the deplorable state of ongoing rights violations and political intolerance.