Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Burundi

Intimidation of Iteka members51

Intimidation, threats and harassment of Mr. Stany Mbazumutima

On 20 March 2004, when Mr. Stany Mbazumutima, a member of the Iteka League in Ngozi, was carrying out an enquiry on assassinations committed in Mubuga region by members of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for Defence of Democracy (Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces de la démocratie – CNDD-FDD), a rebel movement, the commander of the Ngozi public security police (police de sécurité publique – PSP), Mr. Emmanuel Ndayegamiye accused him of entering his district without prior authorisation and stated: "Even people working for the UN can be punished, imprisoned or even killed. If you do it again, I'll throw you in jail".

On 29 March 2004, when Mr. Mbazumutima requested that a young detainee who had just given birth be taken to the Ngozi hospital, a criminal investigation officer threatened to arrest him.

In July 2004, the Maranga brigade commander Appollinaire Bashirahishize ordered the immediate release of a man arrested for allegedly raping a young girl in Maranga commune. After the case was closed, Mr. Mbzumutima contacted Ngozi district commander Philippe Ndayishimiye in October 2004 to denounce the impunity granted to the people responsible for this situation. Mr. Ndayishimiye apparently replied: "people who work for the United Nations can be jailed and, if necessary, killed, without legal proceedings".

Intimidation of Mr. Christian Havyarimana

On 27 March 2004, Mr. Christian Havyarimana, member of the Iteka League in Kayanza, 70 km north of Bujumbura, was threatened and insulted by Mr. Marira, a prison guard in Matongo commune, when he came to inspect the detention facility and enquire about the detention conditions for prisoners. Mr. Marira refused to let him enter the prison.

After a new prison administrator was appointed, Mr. Havyarimana was finally able to visit the prison facility on 7 May 2004.

Arbitrary arrest and detention of Messrs. Pierre Claver Hajayandi and Célestin Nsavyimana52

The intelligence services arrested Messrs. Pierre Claver Hajayandi and Célestin Nsavyimana, respectively chairman and treasurer of the Trade Union Federation of Burundi (Confédération des syndicats du Burundi – COSYBU), on 24 September 2004 at the headquarters of their organisation in Bujumbura for "jeopardising national security". During the arrest, the officers confiscated two computers, three floppy disks and various documents on the draft interim Constitution53.

Their arrest occurred a week after the two union leaders had urged COSYBU members to sign a memorandum criticising the adoption of a new Constitution by the Burundi Parliament. The memorandum expressed concern over the impact that this new Constitution would have on the political stability of the country and the role that would be granted to institutions guaranteing the right to establish trade unions and the rights of the individual.

Messrs. Hajayandi and Nsavyimana were detained in the "national documentation" office (presidential police) without access to their lawyer.

They were released in the evening of 30 September 2004, a week after their arrest. Their electronic equipment was returned, but the intelligence services kept the floppy disks and the documents.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

51. See Annual Report 2003.

52. See Urgent Appeal BDI 001/0904/OBS 073.

53. The post-transition interim Constitution of the Republic of Burundi was adopted by the transitional National Assembly and Senate meeting as a Congress on 17 September 2004 and promulgated on 20 October 2004. This constitution will remain in force until a post-transition Constitution is adopted by a referendum.


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