Burundian lawyer Tony Germain Nkina was sentenced to five years in prison on June 15, 2021 by the High Court of Kayanza province, in northern Burundi. He was arrested on October 13, 2020 while visiting a client in Kabarore commune, in Kayanza, shortly after armed attacks in the area. He was charged with endangering internal state security, and later convicted of “collaborating with rebels who attacked Burundi.” On August 12, 2021 Ngozi province’s Court of Appeal postponed the appeal hearing to September 2, 2021. Evidence presented by the prosecution indicates the charges against Tony Germain Nkina are motivated solely by his former human rights work. Amnesty International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
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I am concerned about the wrongful conviction of lawyer Tony Germain Nkina
to five years in prison on unfounded charges of “collaboration with rebels who attacked Burundi.”
Tony Germain Nkina was arrested on October 13, 2020 in the northern province of Kayanza, Burundi, accused of collaborating with the armed opposition group, RED-Tabara (Resistance for the Rule of Law), which the government has accused of being responsible for a series of armed attacks that had occurred in Kayanza province in early October 2020. Tony Germain Nkina was arrested while visiting a client in Kabarore commune – a locality that was attacked. He was interrogated and held at the office of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) in Kayanza, then transferred to police custody before being transferred on October 16, 2021 to Ngozi Prison, in Ngozi Province where he remains in detention.
On June 15, 2021 the Court of Kayanza sentenced Tony Germain Nkina to five years in prison and a fine of one million Burundian francs ($USD 500). On August 12, 2021 the Appeal Court of Ngozi postponed the appeal hearing to September 2, 2021 on Tony Germain Nkina’s request, to allow him and his lawyers to prepare for the appeal. The prosecution alleged that Tony Germain Nkina had travelled to Rwanda to give information to Burundian human rights defender, Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, founder and president of the Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues (APRODH), and to RED-Tabara, without any evidence to substantiate these allegations. Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa currently lives in Europe. Tony Germain Nkina was APRODH’s representative in Kayanza province, until the organization was suspended in 2015 as part of a crackdown on civil society groups involved in protests against the late President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term. Amnesty International believes Tony Germain Nkina is being prosecuted solely because of his former human rights work and connections with APRODH, in violation of his rights to freedom of expression and association.
In light of the above, I call upon you to instruct the Prosecutor General of the Republic to ensure that Tony Germain Nkina is immediately and unconditionally released and that all the charges against him are immediately dropped. Pending his release, I urge you to ensure that he has full access to his lawyers and family and is protected from torture and other ill-treatment.