On September 29, 2021 the Court of Appeal of Ngozi upheld the conviction and five-year prison sentence of Burundian lawyer, Tony Germain Nkina. He was arrested on October 13, 2020 and charged with endangering international state security. He was convicted on June 15, 2021 for “collaborating with rebels who attacked Burundi.” However, the evidence presented against him indicates that his prosecution is politically motivated and due to his previous human rights work. Amnesty International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
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I am shocked by the decision of the Court of Appeal of Ngozi on September 29, 2021 to uphold the conviction and five-year prison sentence against lawyer Tony Germain Nkina
. He had appealed against the Court of Kayanza’s verdict of June 15, 2021 in which he was wrongfully sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of one million Burundian francs ($USD 500). The appeal hearing, initially set for August 12, 2021 was postponed twice before it was finally held on September 20, 2021.
Tony Germain Nkina was arrested on October 13, 2020 in Kayanza province, northern Burundi, and accused of collaborating with the armed opposition group, RED-Tabara (Resistance for the Rule of Law). Since the Burundi 2015 crisis, following the late President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office, the government has accused RED-Tabara of being responsible for a series of armed attacks across the country, including attacks that had occurred in Kayanza province in early October 2020.
The arrest happened when Tony Germain Nkina was visiting a client in Kabarore commune – a locality that was attacked in October 2020. Tony Germain Nkina was advising the client on a land dispute case. The client has also been convicted on the same offence and handed a two- and half-year sentence. Before being transferred to the Ngozi prison on October 16, 2020, where he remains in detention, Tony Germain Nkina was interrogated and held at the office of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) in Kayanza, then transferred to police custody in the same province.
During the appeal hearing, the prosecution failed again to substantiate allegations that Tony Germain Nkina was linked in any way to RED-Tabara or produce any witness to support their case against the lawyer.
In a joint statement
issued on October 8, 2021 Amnesty International denounced the decision of the Court of Appeal and pointed to the fact that Burundi continues on a sad path of shrinking civic space despite multiple promises of a positive change in upholding its human rights obligations.
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.